Sebastian Faulks’ sweeping novel Where My Heart Used to Beat tells the story of an English doctor who has lived through the best and worst of the 20th century and, holed up on a small island off the south coast of France, is challenged by his host to confront his past. We ask what makes him tick.
Where are you now?
In a better place.
Where and when do you do most of your writing?
At home, from ten till six.
If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?
The Times crossword.
Full-time or part-time?
Pen or keyboard?
How do you relax when you’re writing?
I don’t. You can’t. You mustn’t.
How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?
Who do you write for?
The reader, the ones who write to me enclosing plays they have written based on the characters in Human Traces. For myself. For my late parents. And for the sake of the book itself.
Who do you share your work in progress with?
My inner critic.
Which literary character do you wish you created?
Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.
Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
“Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen…”
From the sonnet ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ by John Keats.
Which book do you wish you’d written?
Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch
What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
Tokyo by Nicholas Hogg, The Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard.
Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
Scouting for Boys.
Which book/s do you treasure the most?
Seamus Heaney signed a copy of Field Work to me.
What is the last work you read in translation?
The Search Warrant by Patrick Modiano.
Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
Richard Yates, Complete Stories.
What will you read next?
Dynasty by Tom Holland. It’s about the Caesars, not Joan Collins, I think.
What are you working on next?
My golf handicap.
Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
Gargantua and Pantagruel, Jo the Crossing Sweeper, Ivan Denisovich, Robinson Crusoe, Humbert Humbert, Mr Pooter, Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters.
If you weren’t writing you’d be…?
Sebastian Faulks’ books include A Possible Life, Human Traces, On Green Dolphin Street, Engleby, Birdsong and the number one bestseller A Week in December. Where My Heart Used to Beat is published in hardback by Hutchinson and in eBook and audiobook by Cornerstone. Read more.