One Minute With: William Boyd, novelist

 

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my study in my house in Chelsea and I can see Radnor Walk where it goes up to the King's Road... behind is the spire of St Luke's, where Charles Dickens got married.

What are you currently reading?

'The Last Stand' by Nathaniel Philbrick. It's about General Custer and the battle of Little Big Horn... I'm obsessed by the battle... I'm also reading Robert Douglas-Fairhurst's 'Becoming Dickens', which looks at how Dickens invented himself. It's an interesting angle.

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

My current fan worship is for Anton Chekhov's short stories... In Russia, he is revered as a short story writer who wrote a few plays... As a writer, he is faithless, stoical, humane and honest.

Describe the room where you usually write

In my study, which is a complete shambles of a room with 2,000 stacked books... It's chaotic but I can find anything I need in two minutes.

What distracts you from writing?

I don't get distracted by interruptions. I can switch on and off... Maybe it's because I used to write in libraries in Oxford with other people around, and so you learn to concentrate.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I would go back to Chekhov and to Dr Astrov in 'Uncle Vanya'. He is essentially a decent man who is struggling with life's frustrations. Almost anyone can identify with him.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

There's no clan or clique. They are all ages and both sexes ... It's a complete cross-section.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Currently, David Hockney... He is tirelessly inventive and life-enhancing... He's also a nice man, a straightforward Yorkshireman with a very likeable bluntness in him.

William Boyd will be appearing at the Independent Bath Literature Festival on Saturday 3 March. His novel, 'Waiting for Sunrise', is published by Bloomsbury

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