Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm in my sitting room in east London, and outside I can see my filthy car – which is slightly embarrassing. I have a neighbour with a Chevrolet Camaro, which never goes anywhere but is always shiny.
What are you currently reading?
I always have about ten books scattered around the place, but now I'm in the middle of the 'Sea Trilogy' by William Golding, which I absolutely love. It's so much funnier than I expected.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him
JG Farrell. It's some of the richest writing I've come across. He makes history relevant, and creates wonderful characters. And he writes extraordinary set-pieces, which are absolutely hilarious. 'The Siege of Krishnapur' is one of the funniest books I've ever read.
Describe the room where you usually write
In a tiny office, a bit like a garden shed. I tend to follow the sun around, like a cat.
What distracts you from writing?
Not much, when I get going. But until I get going, pretty much everything.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
In a slightly aspirational way, Stephen Maturin [the naval surgeon from Patrick O'Brian's novels]. He's curmudgeonly and secretive. And we're both a devil with a sword.
What are your readers like when you meet them?
They're always good-looking, intelligent and have fantastic taste! Very varied – but I always feel awkward and embarrassed, and don't quite know what to say.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
All sorts of people have done incredible things – but I'd like to check out their personal life before assigning them hero status. So, I would say: almost anyone who retains their integrity and morality and cheerfulness throughout a life.
Stef Penney's new novel is 'The Invisible Ones' (Quercus)Reuse content