One Minute With: Tim Lott, novelist


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my office, looking out of the window. It's in somebody else's home. I can see other people's gardens. From my last office, I could see David Cameron's garden.

What are you currently reading?

'The Art of Fielding' by Chad Harbach. It's good, but not as good as everyone says it is.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him

JG Farrell. My [writing] heroes are always funny and profound at the same time. I like the way Farrell's prose never goes quite where you'd expect it to. There's a controlled randomness about it that feels very much like life.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's an upstairs room in a house that has a music studio so I see Kasabian and Badly Drawn Boy as I come in. I'm the man in the attic. The best thing is the double bed. I never want to be in an office without a bed.

What distracts you from writing?

Hunger, quite often. Noise, sometimes, from the music studio.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

[Updike's] Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom, who is depressingly suburban at heart, a little bit venal, sometimes inappropriately lecherous, but trying to be better than he is. He's very honest with himself, and he's trying to escape the banality of his life. I grew up in working-class West London suburbia, trying to escape my reality.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

A lot are elderly women who read my first book, 'The Scent of Dried Roses', about my mother who committed suicide. As time's gone on, I've got some younger readers too.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Alan Wilson Watts, who was a mystical-sounding Zen teacher. For a year and a half, I was completely obsessed with him. He had a very English take on Eastern mysticism. He was also incredibly articulate and funny, and my next novel is based around him.

Tim Lott's new novel, 'Under the Same Stars', is published by Simon & Schuster