One Minute With: Susan Greenfield, scientist & broadcaster
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 02 March 2012
Where are you now and what can you see?
I'm travelling from Oxford to Exeter for an event at the university about creativity. We're in Devon and I can see classic English countryside – rolling hills with patches of woodland.
What are you currently reading?
I recently finished Sebastian Faulks's 'A Week in December'. I'm not usually keen on novels set in modern times but I did like this – he's a very good writer.
Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him
Philippa Gregory: I enjoy all her historical novels, not just those about Tudor times. It's paradoxical, but as a scientist I don't really like reading science books. Her novels have just the right level of escapism while remaining interesting.
Describe the room where you usually write
My study at home. Each of the rooms in the house has a different colour, and the study is red: carpets, walls and ceiling.
What distracts you from writing?
Being hungry. Otherwise, very little. I have a day job, so it's such a luxury to take a day off and work at home.
Which fictional character most resembles you?
In an idealised way, Prince Tancredi in Lampedusa's novel 'The Leopard' - with his line that "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." Not that I'm in any way male, Italian or aristocratic!
What are your readers like when you meet them?
I suppose that they do belong to predictable categories: the intelligentsia, for want of a better word. People who are interested in ideas.
Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?
Vivienne Westwood. She's sui generis. Not only do I like her clothes, but I admire her as a woman: feisty, stylish, creative and fun.
Susan Greenfield will speak at the 'Independent' Bath Literature Festival on Tuesday 6 March; her book 'You and me: the neuroscience of identity' is published by Notting Hill Editions
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