Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer prize-winning novelist: One minute interview

Olen Butler is the author of The Star of Istanbul

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

Through my hotel window, I see Telegraph Pass in the Footlands of Yuma, Arizona, where tonight I give a reading at a Deco era theatre on Main Street.

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading Dead Wake by Erik Larson, about the sinking of the Lusitania. It is all so familiar: in writing my second Christopher Marlowe Cobb novel, The Star of Istanbul, I myself spent some harrowing time with Cobb on that fateful voyage.

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

Graham Greene. He separated his novels into serious literature and "entertainments" and then proceeded to write both with equal depth and brilliance. He was no doubt himself slyly aware of that irony.

Describe the room where you usually write

In a writing cottage separate from my antebellum plantation home in northern Florida. I write on an iMac on a massive table made of repurposed antique oak planks, surrounded by stacks of books, and with two bichon frises asleep at my feet. Nearby is a cabinet full of talismanic artifacts from past books, including a verdigris-covered tin box full of pocket watch parts recovered from the Lusitania. The cottage air is full of the smell of fresh ground and brewed coffee.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

The love child of Christopher Marlowe Cobb and Don Quixote.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

The nameless man who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square.

Robert Olen Butler's latest book, "The Star of Istanbul", is published by No Exit Press (£8.99)

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