One Minute With: Tim Waterstone, novelist and entrepreneur

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm at my computer in my tiny study at the top of my house, gazing out contentedly at Holland Park trees and gardens. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world.

What are you currently reading?

[Thomas Mann's] 'Buddenbrooks' (for the umpteenth time in my life, and I hope I will still have time to fit in a couple or so more.

Name a favourite writer and say why you like him/her

Dickens - in some ways preposterous: all those clunking coincidences, all those appalling 'child women'. But for richness of narrative, characterisation, atmospherics and sheer humanity there is nobody like him. Except for Tolstoy.

Describe the room where you usually write

Right here, perched up in this tiny study, computer on the desk, surrounded by cats, books and my daughter's A-level essays. Bliss.

What distracts you from writing?

Not much. Apart from bouts of unbearable affection and longing for my wife.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Pass - though I would like (too modest) to say Pierre in 'War and Peace'.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Totally delightful: intelligent, perceptive people.

Who is your hero/ heroine from outside literature?

Clem Attlee, perhaps - a fabulously effective Prime Minister, and a superbly understated man. Alternatively President Eisenhower, above all for this quote of his: "Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it."

Tim Waterstone's new novel is 'In for a Penny, In for a Pound' (Corvus)