One Minute With: Tom Benn, crime writer


Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm at home, at my desk. I see my laptop keyboard – four keys missing and counting.

What are you currently reading?

I've started Matt Thorne's Prince biography, and I'm also re-reading Jane Austen's 'Emma'.

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

Dashiell Hammett... I love the Continental Op's narration – it's stylish, unsentimental and deadpan-funny. His best mysteries have aged better than Chandler's... less heroic, more cynical.

Describe the room where you usually write

I write a lot in the library at the University of East Anglia... The walls are covered in undergrad graffiti (literary quotes, exam-time SOS's).

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Generally, I'm not interesting or uninteresting enough to be a recognisable character. But the last time I was single I may or may not have resembled Kenny from Richard Price's 'Ladies' Man': anxious, priapic, self-deluding.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Does Quentin Crisp count as "outside literature"? He refused to change for the world and waited for the world to change for him. And it did.

Tom Benn's new Bane novel, 'Chamber Music', is published by Cape