One Minute With: William Boyd, novelist
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, and is currently judging the Aesthetica Magazine new writing prize.
Friday 17 February 2012
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
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Transformers 4 named highest-grossing movie of 2014 ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever