5 Minutes With Vinay Patel

What was the last book you read?

The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

What’s next on your reading list?

Night Theatre by Vikram Paralkar

Which writer would you have loved to have met and why?

I’ve just read his letters so I’m going to say Anton Chekhov. I have a lot of questions.

Which great novel have you tried to read but failed?

Sorry Middlemarch, it’s me not you.

You are stranded on a desert island. What three books would you want with you?

Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and Middlemarch by George Eliot because now there will be no excuses.

Which is your favourite bookshop or e-bookstore and why?

I went to university in Exeter and there was a Waterstones right on the cathedral green which I loved. Not so much because it was an amazing bookstore but because, as a boy from the London suburbs, it felt a bit magic.

Go on, let us know your musical guilty pleasure.

Hmmm I’m not so brave as to tell you specific songs, but I have a habit of finding something really lame and listening to it on repeat through the privacy of my headphones and feeling so pleased that nobody knows what I’m experiencing.

And your one from the world of fiction?

I guess my extensive collection of X Wing Star Wars spin-off novels but I’ve come to embrace them.

When did you first realise you wanted to work in publishing?

I haven’t yet!

What would be the title of your autobiography?

I Told You I’d Be A Terrible Doctor

What was your first job?

Customer Service Assistant at Virgin Megastore, Bluewater. Still probably my favourite job!

What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?

My cat, more often than not.

Tell us about a passion you have outside the business.

I’m a keen photographer and in another life its the direction I would’ve gone in.

Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?

My grandparents. They’ve already done the impossible across their lifetimes. Every challenge I have is comparatively a piece of cake and I find it helpful to remind myself of that.

What distracts you from writing?

My cats, a new episode of my favourite TV drama, shiny objects, Q&As.

What was the first book that made you cry?

I can’t remember for sure, but I once cried with joy as a child at all the wonders in the Argos catalogue if that counts?

What are the most common traps for aspiring writers?

Worrying about their career more than making good work, not finding critical friends

If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Finish what you start.

What was your favourite childhood book?

The Secret Island by Enid Blyton

If you could bring a fictional book character to life for one day to hang out with, whom would it be?

Philip Marlowe. That man needs a hug.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Play football, go to the cinema and – seemingly, over the last few years – attend weddings.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

It rarely happens these days, but I try to work office hours, with two hour blocks of writing at a time.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Put your bum in the chair. Keep writing. Don’t worry if it’s terrible (to begin with).

Do you have a favourite book adaptation you would recommend?

I think the movie version of ‘American Psycho’ is one of the most fascinating studies in adaptation you’ll find. A hyper-masculine novel made into a film written and directed by women that finds new angles of critique and sloughs off the excess to expose fresher layers of satire.

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