An Interview with Peter Benson
To celebrate the release of The South in Winter, Peter Benson’s latest novel, we’ve been chatting to him; check out the interview below! We’ve also got 50% off the latest two books – scroll down to find out more…
Q. How old were you when you first started writing?
I was about eleven. I used to write short stories and plays, and once I’d started, I knew I’d found my vocation.
Q. What was the inspiration behind The South in Winter?
I’ve always wanted to write a book about travel – not a travel book, because that implies a degree of autobiography – and I’d attempted it before after a journey around Czechoslovakia. That one failed – this succeeds because I think I spread my net wider, and focused on how travel and writing are pollutants.
Q. Did you do much in the way of research for your novel, or is it mainly imagined/from memory?
I stayed in all the places where my character stayed, and followed his route around Italy, so I researched people and places – beyond that, the work is pure imagination.
Q. Out of every book you’ve ever written, which was your favourite and why?
My books are like my children – I love them all equally, but for different reasons.
Q. What is your favourite book?
It depends on my mood. At the moment it’s Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.
Q. Your books are often lauded for their dry humour – would you say you’ve been particularly influenced by any other writers?
The biggest influence on my approach to writing was Richard Brautigan. When I first read his work I realised that I had permission to write a novel.
Q. If you could give one piece of advice to a young writer, what would it be?
Read. And don’t listen to advice.
Q. Do you have a special place in which you write?
It’s all done in my head.
Q. If you could organise a dinner party to be attended by characters from books, which three guests would be at the top of your list?
Mary Magdalene, Bartleby (the Scrivener) and Maggie Tulliver.