Author Lionel Shriver opens up about her most precious possessions, from old watches to ‘goofy’ gifts…
I picked up this metal ring off the street in Norway when I was about 15, on our first family trip out of the us. I wore it as a ring for almost 20 years – I’ve now retired it to this little box.
I have had this old fashioned metal wind-up toy horse called Clippity since I was about nine. I keep it on my desk to remind me of both my humble beginnings and to stay humble.
I was in another relationship for nine years before I met my husband Jeff [Williams, jazz drummer] in 2002. These toys were part of a goofy stocking I gave my ex one Christmas. I’m a little sad that he left them behind, but they’re a warm reminder that we still care about each other, even if it didn’t last for ever.
I was so exasperated with the covers my publisher suggested for my novel The Post-Birthday World that I drew this one instead – it helped to move the design on to a cover I really liked.
This is one of many ceramic sculptures I have made. I call this one The Smoker – I like her sense of cool indifference. It looks robust, but it’s extremely fragile. From childhood, I was equally divided between writing and art. I treasure the physicality of sculpting – it’s something I do just for myself.
This glass tennis ball was a present from the editor of my book Double Fault. Tennis is important to me as my father Donald taught my brothers and me to play. I don’t care much for a proper game – I just like to hit the ball really hard, but within the lines.
I was an eccentric child and loved making up little projects, pulling things apart and putting them back together. This was my paternal grandfather’s watch – it had stopped working, so I redesigned it and added little messages to myself inside the clock face, such as ‘finish poster’, when I was about ten.
A framed copy of The Economist, with the cover line ‘We Need To Talk About Kim’, hangs on the door of my study. It gives me a great sense of achievement in a kooky way. My 2003 novel We Need To Talk About Kevin made my reputation, but my favourite book is So Much For That. It has a lot of feeling.
This was my elder brother Greg’s wallet, one of the few things of his I kept after he died in 2009. He made it himself – he liked things to be heavy and durable. I kept his hard hat and his power drill, too. We shared a great love for tools and making things.
Lionel’s new book Property: A Collection will be published by Borough Press on Thursday, price £14.99