One Minute With: Stef Penney, novelist and film-maker

Interview,Boyd Tonkin
Friday 26 August 2011 00:00 BST

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my sitting room in east London, and outside I can see my filthy car – which is slightly embarrassing. I have a neighbour with a Chevrolet Camaro, which never goes anywhere but is always shiny.

What are you currently reading?

I always have about ten books scattered around the place, but now I'm in the middle of the 'Sea Trilogy' by William Golding, which I absolutely love. It's so much funnier than I expected.

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

JG Farrell. It's some of the richest writing I've come across. He makes history relevant, and creates wonderful characters. And he writes extraordinary set-pieces, which are absolutely hilarious. 'The Siege of Krishnapur' is one of the funniest books I've ever read.

Describe the room where you usually write

In a tiny office, a bit like a garden shed. I tend to follow the sun around, like a cat.

What distracts you from writing?

Not much, when I get going. But until I get going, pretty much everything.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

In a slightly aspirational way, Stephen Maturin [the naval surgeon from Patrick O'Brian's novels]. He's curmudgeonly and secretive. And we're both a devil with a sword.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

They're always good-looking, intelligent and have fantastic taste! Very varied – but I always feel awkward and embarrassed, and don't quite know what to say.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

All sorts of people have done incredible things – but I'd like to check out their personal life before assigning them hero status. So, I would say: almost anyone who retains their integrity and morality and cheerfulness throughout a life.

Stef Penney's new novel is 'The Invisible Ones' (Quercus)

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in