Born in Boston in 1956, Meg Rosoff moved to the UK in the late 1980s. She studied at Harvard University and Central Saint Martins College of Art before embarking on a career in advertising. At 46, Rosoff left her job to write full-time. Her first novel, How I Live Now, won the 2004 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and a film adaptation, starring Saoirse Ronan, has just been released.
Which books are on your bedside table?
William Maxwell’s Time Will Darken It, Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.
What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?
James Thurber’s story “The Dog that Bit People”. It’s about an Airedale terrier who is the worst pet in the entire world.
What are you scared of?
I am terrified of the universe, galaxies, eternal emptiness. I can’t look at stars.
Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
The actor Simon Russell Beale. He would be very funny and would entertain me with renditions of strange Shakespearean characters.
Which literary character most resembles you?
The Cat in the Hat. He’s a complete anarchist – and I am too. I hate rules. I hate anyone telling me what to do. He’s one of my earliest literary heroes. I love that he has a complete lack of conscience.
Which book changed your life?
How I Live Now, which I wrote. I had been working for 15 years in a career that I absolutely loathed and it allowed me to quit advertising and be a full-time writer.
What would you change about yourself?
If I had enough money to stop writing books, I would. I find it difficult to write. I love finishing books but the process of writing and finding out what to write next can be agonising.
Who are your literary influences?
Really bad stuff that I read because I think I have a moral responsibility to do better than that. There is so much rubbish masquerading as good writing. I’m definitely spurred on by that.
If you could own any painting, what would it be?
George Stubbs’s “Whistlejacket”.
What does it mean to be a writer?
Agony, misery, anxiety, despair and then occasionally absolute, pure happiness.
Meg Rosoff’s latest novel is ‘Picture Me Gone’ (Penguin)