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Anna Quindlen was born in Philadelphia in 1952. She studied at Barnard College, New York before becoming a journalist for the New York Post and the New York Times. Her NYT column “Public and Private” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. She is the author of seven novels, eight non-fiction books and two children’s books. She lives in New York.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?

The Shortcut Man series by PG Sturges.

What books are currently on your bedside table?

Someone by Alice McDermott; Andrew’s Brain by EL Doctorow and Ian Rankin’s Saints of the Shadow Bible.

What is your daily writing routine?

I have breakfast, read the papers, powerwalk for an hour, talk to my best friend on the phone. Those are the routines I have developed not to write. Then I run out of things to do, and go upstairs and sit down for a few hours. Lunch, and then a few hours more.

Where do you write best?

At my desk, of course. Writers need routine as badly as toddlers do.

What music helps you write?

Stephen Sondheim, Rosanne Cash, the Who, Adele and Kacey Musgraves

What do you snack on while you write?

Nothing. Last week I spilled San Pellegrino on the keyboard and fried my MacBook. So now I won’t even hydrate while writing.

Which literary character most resembles you?

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Well, not really, but a girl can dream.

Who are your literary influences?

Dickens, Austen, Wharton, Faulkner, Yeats.

Who would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party?

Idris Elba.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Idris Elba. Idris Elba is the answer to all life’s questions.

When were you happiest?

The other night when everyone was over for dinner and my daughter and prospective daughter-in-law cooked and the guys cleaned the kitchen.

When do you feel most free?

Walking around the streets of New York. The city and I are in perfect sync.

If you could own any painting, what would it be?

Chagall’s “Over the Town”.

What would you go back and change?

I would have my mother live a rich full life instead of a truncated one.

How do you relax?

I watch TV and needlepoint. Downton Abbey, Sherlock.

Anna Quindlen’s latest novel, ‘ Still Life with Breadcrumbs’, is published by Hutchinson/ Random House

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