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Born in Wales in 1975, Cynan Jones has worked as a teacher, copywriter and wine presenter. His debut novel, The Long Dry (2006), won the Betty Trask Award in 2007; he is also the author of Everything I Found on the Beach (2011), and a retelling of the Welsh Peredur myth, Bird, Blood, Snow (2012). He lives in Aberaeron, Wales, where he runs a flower and wine shop called Hand Picked.

Who is your perfect reader?

Someone who turns their phone off to read.

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

Colin McAdam’s Some Great Thing. Specifically the sentence: “Ever cracked your head on your spine by jumping on your heels?”

Which books are on your bedside table?

The Count of Monte Cristo [by Alexandre Dumas]. For the first time. I’m 400 pages in.

When did you know you were going to be a writer?

Now, pretty much. Four novels published and 10 years after I made the decision to properly give it a go.

Where do you write best?

I have a room at home, and a shed. Sacred ground. I need to be left alone to write.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?

I can’t say without spoiling the book I’m on at the moment but it involves some rope and a pair of tights.

Who are your literary influences?

Everyone I read, for better or worse. If I don’t make notes while reading, it’s usually a sign the book isn’t strong.

When do you feel most free?

When I’m on my own. That could be when I’m left alone to read, cook. Walking somewhere or out on a kayak. Being left alone to write counts, too.

What is the best piece of advice a parent gave you?

“Never stand behind a horse.”

What novel would you give a child to introduce them to literature?

I have godchildren, nieces and nephews. They’re too young now, but I already think about which novel to give them when they’re ready for it. The beautiful thing is, it will depend on who they turn into.

What does it mean to be a writer?

Not what people think it means.

Cynan Jones’s new novel is ‘The Dig’ (Granta)

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