Literary pets? Always first: a ripper story. Beyond that, that intangible extra sensation — it’s like an elongated sharp intake of breath. Yes, I want to be entrapped within the worlds that writers create. Yes, I want to read stories that convince and transfix and unsettle me from start to finish, and which leave me awed and envious. Yes, I want to read books that I’m still thinking about weeks and months later. But none of that really captures the sensation of that indefinable ‘extra’.
Favorite novellas? I love Carson McCullers’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951). I re-read it recently for the first time in ages and was surprised all over again by how seriously good, weird, funny, sad it is. It’s truly her own. Others that stick with me, and which I go back to again and again, include: Saul Bellow’s The Bellarosa Connection; David Malouf’s ‘The Valley of Lagoons’ (maybe that’s a long short story) from his collection Every Move You Make, which I think is one of Malouf’s two or three best books; Marguerite Duras’s The Lover; Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (or is that a short novel?); Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop (I suppose that’s definitely a small novel); and so on …
Why do you get up in the morning? I get up in the morning in the hope (usually futile) that I’ll squeeze some fiction writing in before my 4-year-old daughter wakes up.
What else are you involved in? I’m juggling so many writing, reviewing and editing tasks I can’t bring myself to list them. The epic saga that is my second novel is drawing to a close … I think, I hope. It’s so close to finished I can smell it. I have another novel, a screenplay, and a couple of novellas in various states of disarrary.