Alan Hollinghurst last night explained the journey from writing his first poem, at the age of nine, to the 'benign and transforming effect' of winning last year's Man Booker prize. 'To the writer who's not already widely known, the more sustaining aspect of winning [the Booker] is the sense of a wider welcome, of being given a hearing, a readership that might otherwise always have eluded him,' Hollinghurst told an audience of 270 at Hong Kong University. 'It gives the writer a kind of buoyancy of mood.' But despite his new fame - 16 years after the publication of the first of his four novels - the wait to begin his next book left him with a feeling of dread, Hollinghurst said during the Man Booker Prize Distinguished Lecture, part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. 'The mental space one is in as a writer appears by turn to be both a haven and a prison cell,' he said. 'For me, increasingly with each book, the supposedly happy phase of bringing the thing to its conclusion is shadowed and then overwhelmed by a kind of depression.' In a talk based around the theme 'Becoming a Writer', Hollinghurst, 50, described how his ability as a young man to write poems 'with appalling ease' evaporated when he was offered the chance to publish a collection. 'Faber and Faber have been kind enough not to ask for their #100 back,' the Londoner said in the Rayson Huang Theatre of the Pokfulam campus. The best poetry is usually written by young people, he said. 'A young novelist is likely to grow out of his novel long before he's had the chance to finish it, whereas a poem may crystallise the experience of a moment.' After an early obsession with P.G Wodehouse and J.R.R. Tolkien, Hollinghurst developed a passion for architecture and music. Both play significant roles in his writing. Music is the highest art form, he said. 'Youthful and uneducated experiences of music can have an almost tactile quality. The music seems to have a physical presence. 'Anything I do as a writer is inevitably of a lesser order than that ideal subject that I might have done if I had a musical gift proportionate to my increasingly keen and needy appetite as a listener.'