My cultural life: Stella Duffy

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What is your favourite film and why? The Sound Of Music, because it has a part for women of every age, from five to 75.

What is your favourite film and why? The Sound Of Music, because it has a part for women of every age, from five to 75. I saw it when it first came out, when I was three years old, sitting on my father's knee in the cinema. According to my dad I didn't move once. I also love All About Eve – Bette Davis is my favourite actor of all time.

The piece of music that means the most to you? I'm very fond of The Beatles' 'Blackbird'. Both my parents (now dead) have come to be associated with blackbirds, and so I feel very warm towards them. My dad, when his father died, looked out of the window and saw a blackbird on the balcony looking at him. When his mother died about 10 years later, there was a female blackbird with a male blackbird looking in. On the day of my father's funeral I was at my mother's house and I looked out of the window and there, between a brown blackbird and a black blackbird flew in another black blackbird, so I thought, that's my dad. When my mother died the same thing happened.

The best performance you've ever been to? Most recently, Carlos Acosta at Sadler's Wells was utterly transcendent. I love ballet – in my head, I was meant to be a ballet dancer but my body wouldn't let me. It got rather too round too soon. Carlos Acosta was just astonishing, and he was performing with a lot of other dancers from Cuban National Ballet, and he was terribly generous. Even though it was his show, they got to show off as well.

The book you have read more than once? Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker. I first read it when I was about 18. It uses a post-apocalyptic sort of English language that is totally adulterated. It's mind-blowing. It was an astonishing thing to read at that age. I've bought it for other people and I've probably read it about four times. I recently started getting into directing, and I would love to adapt it for the theatre.

The fictional character whose life you'd like to lead? I wouldn't mind being Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair (on a good day) for a little while – before things got sour anyway. She goes through lots of metamorphoses in her life, and when she's on the up, scanning lots of people, behaving badly and having a good time, I think it would be fantastic to be her. When she's in Bedlam and has lost all her money, I don't think it would be so good.

Your idea of classic TV? The West Wing, Studio 60, Thirtysomething, NYPD Blue and the ensemble show that started it all – Hill Street Blues. Basically anything that Steven Bochco and Aaron Sorkin have ever written. It's something about the way Americans do ensemble series that we haven't quite achieved yet in Britain. I loved State Of Play a few years back though.

Your favourite work of art? The murals in the Rothko Room at Tate Modern. I could sit there for hours. Mark Rothko painted them for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York, and when he finished he didn't want them to go there. I live quite close to Tate Modern so I often go there. To a lot of people the paintings feel depressing and gloomy but to me, they feel calming, inspiring and uplifting.

Prediction for the star of the future? There are about half a dozen great new performers I've worked with in the past few years at the National Youth Theatre. All brilliant in their own way, and – if fate is with them – they will, hopefully, get where they want to go.

Essential website? It has to be Radio 4. I need to listen to the Today programme anywhere I am in the world.

The entertainment gadget you can't live without? TV. Usually American, usually ensemble series, usually with the schedules so badly mucked about that you have to follow a series into the middle of the night on alternating weeks but, every now and then, still worth it. It remains the only form of entertainment readily available to the mass of the people, which is why it's so important, and so very sad when it's bad.

Stella Duffy's latest novel, The Room Of Lost Things, is published by Virago in March. Duffy will be appearing at Pitlochry Festival Theatre (01796 484 626) as part of the Winter Words festival on January 26 at 11.45am

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