Lincoln College, 1993

“It can sometimes take time to put together the life that you want,” says author Naomi Alderman. After reading PPE at Lincoln, Naomi worked at a law firm but found that “it wasn’t for me. I was writing in my spare time, and in fact went down to four days a week when I moved to New York, specifically in order to spend more time writing.”

But it was witnessing the collapse of the World Trade Center first hand that pushed her to pursue a full-time writing career. “Certainly 9/11 was an encounter with mortality; which really does sharpen one’s mind wonderfully,” she says. “I left the law firm because I felt, increasingly, that there had probably been people in the World Trade Center who had been thinking exactly what I was thinking: “I'll just do this for another few years and then I'll take time off to write that novel I’ve always meant to write”. Someday is now, because you never know which day will be your last.”

Alderman’s first novel Disobedience was published in 2006 and earned her a clutch of accolades, including the Orange Award for New Writers. The book focuses on the Orthodox Jewish community in north west London in which she grew up, and the complex and rigorous traditions that govern this culture. She is no longer Orthodox and says: “the change of identity brings both joys and regrets, I find myself pleased and puzzled by the fracture-line down my own history.”

Crossing genre lines of a different kind, Alderman is currently working on a science fiction novel. She cites the hit US TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as an important influence on her literary fiction. “For me, Buffy is a show with such brilliant writing, such expert characterisation, such subtlety of motives and, of course, such an exciting feminist standpoint that I think many writers would benefit from a close study of it.”

Earlier this year Alderman was named on the prestigious Granta List of Best of Young British Novelists, but says she doesn’t let the pressure to somehow ‘define her generation’ influence her work. “It felt good to be on the list. But one must only ever write the book one wants to write – to focus on anything else is to lose the thing that made you want to do it in the first place.”