Mez Packer

Born in Essex, Mez Packer was a student at Warwick University in the 80s and travelled in Europe and Asia. She experimented in alternative lifestyles in the 90s and travelled to India, Nepal and Thailand. She lives with her partner (a veteran of Coventry 2 Tone days) and her two children in Leamington, Warwickshire.

How long have you been a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was a child, poems and short stories, but I still resist calling myself a writer, even though I do it every day.

What inspires you to write?
Is it inspiration or compulsion? I’m not sure – everything inspires/compels me I suppose, but the things I find particularly interesting are nuances in the interactions between people, the natural world, death, religion, race and prejudice, arbitrariness, love, hatred, altruism…. The fact that time slips away so quickly gives me a sense of urgency too – I need to ‘get it all down’.

Who is your favourite writer/s?
So many, but a selection of contemporary writers I go back to again and again are: Cormac McCarthy, John McGahern, E Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, JM Coetze. 19th and 20th century novelists such as Dostoevsky, Lawrence, Turgenev, Nabakov, Dickens, Tolstoy etc. all continue to inspire me.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently writing a novel about a middle-aged, mixed race man in search of his ‘identity’. I am also working on a collection of short stories with an ‘animal’ theme.

What are you reading at the moment?
Moral Disorder (Short Stories) by Margaret Atwood and Home by Marilynne Robinson.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Give yourself time to think. Write when you can. Make sure you have a comfortable chair.

What book has made you laugh?
Not enough books make me laugh but most recently Kate Atkinson’s, When Will there be Good News? raised a chuckle.

What book has made you cry?
Many make me cry (a beautifully constructed sentence can do it). Most recently Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates had me weeping freely.

What book would you recommend to a friend and why?
I tend to recommend what I’m enjoying at the time I’m asked. But I’ll often recommend Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth – at 600 or so pages it is huge, historical, brilliantly observed, entertaining, harrowing and beautifully written – or The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, who expertly and lovingly describes the vanities of a man, and his inevitable decline.

What was the last book you borrowed from the library?
Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins (I have geekish tendencies)