Author portrait © Alex Baker

Fay Weldon was born in 1931 and published her first novel The Fat Woman’s Joke in 1967. She has since written over thirty novels, the autobiography Auto da Fay (2002), numerous TV dramas, several radio plays, five full-length stage plays (plus a few short ones), five collections of short stories and innumerable articles. She lives in Dorset and is a professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her latest novel The New Countess completes her ‘Love and Inheritance’ trilogy.


Where are you now?
At my desk.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?

Sitting at my desk.

If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?
I like to have a cup of coffee.

Full-time or part-time?


Pen or keyboard?

How do you relax when you’re writing?
I check hurricane and volcano websites, consult Metcheck to see if it’s going to stop raining; play computer games – I enjoy empire-building.

How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?

The New Countess – the book I’ve always wanted to write and finally have: all they wouldn’t let me put in Upstairs Downstairs scripts.

Who do you write for?
You – the reader.

Who do you share your work in progress with?
No one.

Which literary character do you wish you created?
Becky Sharp.

Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
One of my own [from Auto da Fay]: “Nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then all of a sudden everything happens.”

1936 Viking edition of The Story of Ferdinand

1936 Viking edition of The Story of Ferdinand

Which book do you wish you’d written?
Aldous Huxley’s After Many a Summer.

Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.

What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
Novel entries for this year’s McKitterick Prize – best first novel for writers over 40.

Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
The Last Man by Mary Shelley.

Which book/s do you treasure the most?
A copy of Ferdinand the Bull which my father gave me when I was six.

What is the last work you read in translation?
Nabokov’s collected short stories.

Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
Chekhov, Philip K. Dick, Helen  Simpson, all masters of the form – and Edith Wharton’s are surprisingly forthright.

What will you read next?
M. Suddain’s Theatre of the Gods (600 pages).

What are you working on next?
A novella called (at the moment) The Revenant.

Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
Cole Porter, Petronius, Kurt Vonnegut, Gore Vidal, Mae West, Colette, Nancy Mitford, Tama Janowitz.

If you weren’t writing you’d be…
Asleep in bed.


The New Countess is published by Head of Zeus in hardback and eBook, along with new eBook editions of Fay Weldon’s earlier novels Down Among the Women, Growing Rich, Little Sisters, Praxis, The Cloning of Joanna May and The Rules of Life. Each book in the ‘Love and Inheritance’ trilogy is also available on CD or as a digital download from Macmillan Audio. Read more.

Listen to a reading by Katherine Kellgren from The New Countess: