The 5-minute Interview: Michèle Roberts, Writer

'Lots of women smile but that doesn't mean they don't have a mind'
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The Independent Online

The feminist author Michèle Roberts, 58, was the poetry editor of 'Spare Rib' magazine from 1975-77 and went on to write novels. In 1992, she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for 'Daughters Of The House'. She won the WH Smith literary award a year later. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia and a judge of the Booktrust's John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. For details, visit www.booktrust.org.uk

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Writing or cooking for friends.

A phrase I use too often ...

"That's wonderful dear" – it's such a cliché.

A common misperception of me is ...

That because I smile and am nice to people I am not intelligent. Lots of women are interested in people and smile but that doesn't mean they don't have a mind.

I wish people would take more notice of ...

Each other and be more public-spirited. The most wonderful thing about living here is you can have a chance conversation with a complete stranger.

The most surprising thing to happen to me was ...

When I won the WH Smith literary award. They gave me £10,000 so, with a wodge of cash in my back pocket, I bought my first house in France.

I am not a politician but ...

I believe people need to get involved in politics to make the world better.

I'm good at ...

Being a friend and listening, loving, cooking and enjoying myself.

I'm very bad at ...

Being a good housewife. I'm a part-time slut. I never do housework unless my mother or friends are coming round.

The ideal night out is ...

A walk by the river with someone I love and lots of conversation. I think London restaurants are so over-priced so we would go home, cook and eat by candlelight.

In weak moments I ...

Cry, write my diary, ring my best friend and drink a glass of Muscadet – the wine I was brought up with in Normandy.

You know me as a writer but in another life I'd have been ...

It is impossible to imagine a life without writing. Writing has made my life make sense and has made my life worthwhile.

The best age to be is ...

You have to cherish the age you are, otherwise you admit to having regrets and that is terrible.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this ...

Don't lie on your deathbed and have regrets. Do it now.

Charlie Francis-Pape

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