AL Kennedy: 'I feel as though I never got the manual for girly chitchat'

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The Independent Online

Visual descriptions of me are never flattering It's never going to be if it involves my face. The whole point of being an author used to be that you had no visual recognition. Now you have to do all this promotional stuff.

People are hard-wired to believe in weird stuff I have more superstitious rituals than anyone I know. If I have to do something stressful, I have a particular way of tapping on objects around me. Partly it's because I've conditioned myself to feel calmer when I have tapped but it's ridiculous and doesn't in any way affect what happens.

I failed to meet any convincing psychics while researching 'Blue Book' [about a romance between two stage mediums] – though there was one I met who was very manipulative. Another told me a lot of stuff about my future, but when he walked out of the building, he tripped and nearly fell under a van, which he didn't even see.

JK Rowling now runs 23 per cent of the universe I think that's the correct figure. Her face will be on coinage soon. I read one of her books and it just wasn't my cup of tea; my main sense of it was that the Harry Potter series are not that type of children's books you can go on to read as an adult, unlike, say, Philip Pullman's novels.

Climbing up mountains or going kayaking stops my mind racing I like to visit this beautiful, tiny island called Sark in the Channel Islands and climb up and down the cliffs. After the first week I get profound anxiety that I'm not working but then something goes pop in my head and my body remembers its OK to loll about, and I can relax.

Girly chitchat makes me very alarmed I feel as though I never got the manual for that stuff. It seems like you have to constantly say, "Isn't he gorgeous!" There are very few people I fancy, so my usual reply is, "Not really."

I do love random chat People tell you amazing stuff if you pay attention. I had a great talk with a cab driver the other day who revealed he had previously been a lady; he told me all about the surgeries he needed to make it happen.

AL Kennedy, 45, is an award-winning writer and a stand-up comedian. Her latest novel, 'Blue Book', is published by Jonathan Cape, priced £16.99