Inspirations Novelist: Helen Zahavi

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The Independent Culture
The music

For years I've been listening to Edith Piaf, especially "Je ne regrette rien". It always lifts my spirits, even though it's not true in my case. I regret everything.

The place

I spent several years in Brighton, which inspired Dirty Weekend.

It has those three essentials for an interesting life: Regency architecture, a listed pier, a thriving underworld. It's cultured, vibrant, seedy, romantic.

The film

The Godfather II is the movie I find most hypnotic and disturbing. I knew a man who shared the methods and guile of Al Pacino's character. Every time I watch, I feel a shiver of recognition.

The artwork

When I was seven I was given a book of Van Gogh. I have never forgotten the Cafe Terrace at Night. I wanted to sit in that pool of soft light; so I moved to Paris. Then I discovered he painted it in Arles.

The play

Joshua School's Ghetto, for its emotion and spectacle, and because that night I rekindled a broken friendship. We happened to take adjacent seats, and all was forgiven.

`Donna and the Fatman' is published by Anchor