Ruth Rendell, novelist: "Fictional characters are never as complex as a real person"


Thursday 27 November 2014 18:40

Where are you now and what can you see?

I am on what I refer to as the balcony, which is in fact a small internal veranda with a balcony railing overlooking the main sitting room. I am sitting at my computer, surrounded by books piled up into three bookcases. I can see my cat Archie curled up on the blue sofa, where he has been for at least several hours.

What are you currently reading?

Robert Harris' Imperium, which I am very much enjoying. I have read all his books of the classical period and think they are very well written.

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

I get asked this a lot and although I don't have a favourite, I do like Louise Doughty. I always admire the works of somebody who writes as well as she does – and she has very good plots, very good characterisation and is very good at storytelling.

Describe the room where you usually write

In the room at the top of the house. It's very small, full of computers and piles and piles of papers. There's nothing particularly exciting in the room except a small table with a cloth on it that is about 120 years old – which was passed on to me by my aunt. Archie sits on it, which I think my aunt would be very disapproving of.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I don't think there is a fictional character who resembles me because fictional characters are not real! We, people, are so very, very complicated that no matter how well drawn a fictional character is, they can't get anywhere near as complex as a real person.

Who is your heroine/hero from outside literature?

Desmond Tutu – because he's such a good man – and he's had a hard life and he always looks so happy. A Christian who is happy is a very good thing and I admire goodness as a characterisation in a person.

Ruth Rendell's latest novel is 'The Girl Next Door' (Hutchinson)

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