One Minute With: William Nicholson, novelist & screenwriter

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my study in Sussex and I can see the pond out of my window.

What are you currently reading?

A book my son urged me to read by one of Obama's advisors, Samantha Power, called Chasing the Flame about Sergio Vieira de Mello, who worked for the United Nations and who died in Iraq. It asks the question "can we solve the world's problems through idealism and the right dose of pragmatism?"

Choose a favourite author and say why you like him/her

Henry David Thoreau who wrote Walden. He was an utterly original thinker who tried to discover how to live well and believed that giving your entire life to work to live made no sense at all. To live well, he thought we had to make our financial demands as small as possible, so experimented with living in the woods for two years in utter simplicity.

Describe the room where you usually write

My study is a converted garage which is largely lined with bookshelves and cardboard boxes filled with manuscripts of my film scripts, plays and books. On the walls, there are posters of the films I have worked on, so I have a big one of Gladiator.

What distracts you from writing?

The phone ringing, emails pinging and looking out of the window to see squirrels digging in the lawn so that I run out and shout at them.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Pierre from War and Peace – not physically but psychologically – he is trying to work out how to live and how to make sense of life.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Of the two novels I have just published, they almost entirely tend to be middle-class, well-educated women who are interested in what I would say is the life of the emotions.

Who is your hero or heroine from outside literature?

Muhammad Yunus, who founded the Grameen micro-credit movement for women.

William Nicholson's novel, 'All the Hopeful Lovers'', is published by Quercus