Psychologist and Royal Society-prize-shortlisted author, Charles Fernyhough takes the stage for London Book & Screen Week’s 5-minutes with…

What was the last book you read?
I have been re-reading Edna O’Brien’s extraordinary 1972 short novel, Night. Mary Hooligan lies alone in a four-poster bed, trying to sleep. The novel is a bracing, language-rich, unfailingly honest account of a woman’s search through memory for love, connection and meaning.

And what did you read it on?
An old-fashioned paperback; a copy that I’m guessing I bought second-hand in the 1990s.

What’s next on your reading list?
One of the gaps in my reading has been Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and I’m happily rectifying that. More indecent Middle English words than you can slip into most conversations.

What is your favourite book to screen adaptation?
One that didn’t ruin a beloved book was Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 Lolita.

Where is the best place to read in London?
I don’t live in London but I’m there a lot. One of the things I love about the city is how much reading you see going on; on trains, on the Tube, in parks, in cafés, and work canteens. I’m lucky enough to be involved in a project called Hubbub, which holds a residency at Wellcome Collection in Euston. Our hammock in the Hub on the fifth floor is the perfect spot.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure…
1970s progressive rock. It is hardly possible to explain to the unenlightened how the best of this music challenged, invented, delighted and transcended like almost no other musical form.

What would be the title of your autobiography?
A Novel Ate My Life.

What was your first job?
Paper boy delivering the Yellow Advertiser in Brentwood, Essex. I also held the title of Grumpiest Barman in Cambridge for a couple of years.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I can’t imagine that a dinner party could be anything other than a horror. I’ve spent my life trying to get away from these people. Plus I live in the sticks and I have no friends.

Where would you most like to be right now?
I’m doing pretty well where I am; sitting by the stove in my study, looking out over the twinkling River Wear.

Follow Charles on Twitter @cfernyhough and join him at Second Home on Monday 11 April 2016. But HURRY – tickets are selling out very fast!


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