First thing: The way they start their day 15. Michael Dobbs author, lives in west Dorset

I generally wake up between 6.30 and 7.30am, but if I'm late, there's always the possibility that one of my kids will bring me up a cup of tea to get me going. They're always up before I am, and my wife, 'o-Sel Nyima, will probably be off seeing to her horses by this time. After that she will probably be in her office, because in March she will be ordained as a Buddhist lama, and she's having to do a tremendous amount of work for that.

I then have to have my cup of tea, my bowl of muesli, and then my shower, in that order - otherwise I'm not fit to participate in human life. I have an old-fashioned shower which sends a great deluge of water down from the ceiling, and that's always very invigorating - much better than these modern showers, which tend to be far too delicate.

In winter, one of the first jobs is to light the wood-burning stove, which the kids will help me with. We'll bring in the wood, throw it on the stove and light it, and the kids always fight over who's going to be the one to light the match. Slowly, the house will fill with the pleasant smell of wood smoke. It's an old farmhouse, parts of which date back 350 years, and the scent of a wood fire is essential to the character of the place.

It's always chaos when we get up, because we have three dogs, all of whom go wild to be fed, while at the same time the children - William, who's nine, and Michael Joe, who's seven - are getting ready for school. The postman, too, always comes between 7 and 7.30am, and so there's always plenty of action first thing. But there may also have been a lot of action during the night, because we live right in the heart of the countryside. The nights, unlike in London, are pitch black, unless there's a moon, and there are always noises, usually of animals hunting - the screams of owls, of foxes, and of rabbits being torn apart. One of the more interesting things in the morning is to wander around the garden and see where the buzzard has caught the rabbit, or where badgers have been digging.

I always listen to the Today programme on Radio 4, and I find I'm often dashing out of the shower in indignation at or with enthusiasm for something I've heard. There are days, however, when I refuse to have anything to do with the news, and I will listen to a local radio station which has nothing but music. I very rarely read newspapers first thing in the morning, too, because newspapers are only delivered a third of a mile away at the bottom of the lane, and it requires quite an effort to go and get them.

If I'm going to be at home all day, just before lunchtime I may go to the gym, or for a run, and so I shall be putting on a track suit when I dress. On the other hand, if I've got to go into London, as I do very frequently, I will dress differently, trying to decide if I'm being a semi-political figure that day, or an author - whether I should be wearing a suit, or something rather more colourful.

As soon as I've come downstairs, I will go through the post, which is usually a foot high. I wear a number of different caps - I have a political hat, and I do a lot of public speaking, as well as being an author - and so the post can comprise a number of different items. But if I'm working on a book, I don't want to be disturbed with that, so I will get straight into my office and start writing. I will have gone to bed the previous night thinking of what I will be writing the following day, and so the only thing that really matters to me is getting to the computer and getting it done. But, at around 11am, it becomes very important to me to take a break, and go through the whole process of making a good cup of tea. And, by that stage, I reckon I ought to have done at least half a day's work.

Michael Dobbs's latest novel, `Goodfellowe MP', is published by HarperCollins, price pounds 16.99.

Interview: Scott Hughes

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent