Owen Sheers, novelist: One minute interview

Sheers is the author of the novel 'I Saw a Man'

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

Sitting beside the fire in our living room at home in Wales. Through the French windows I can see our slightly wild garden, bold with leaf and blossom, and a bench we were given for our wedding. The windows are thick but the dusk birdsong is still clearly audible.

What are you currently reading?

Colm Tobin's study of Elizabeth Bishop and Ben Macintyre's book about Kim Philby, A Spy Among Friends.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire them

Off the top of my head, James Salter, especially his earlier work. He's hewn from the same literary rock as those other pared-back, overtly masculine American writers, but the weight of his sentences are lighter, defter and burst into lyricism at just the right moments. His style is almost pointillist – building impressions and characters though subtle accumulation of detail and action.

Describe the room where you usually write

I've been something of a nomadic writer and there's a trail of cafes behind all my books. Now though, at last, I've built a writing shed in the garden. So far I've read there a lot, edited a lot, and written one poem. Let's see what comes next...

Which fictional character most resembles you?

That's one for others to answer. I'm not sure how much self-knowledge we really have.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

There are many, and all share the same quality – kindness. Follow that, and you can't go far wrong. But recently, because I just read about her, the incredible campaigner for Aboriginal rights and carer for the disposed, Shirley Collen Smith, also known as Mum Shirl. I'd love to have met her.

Owen Sheers's novel 'I Saw a Man' is published by Faber & Faber (£14.99)