‘I remember thinking his waning vitality could be used to my advantage’

As a 17-year-old student about to go to college, Ottessa Moshfegh approached a famous male writer for advice. He was willing to give it – in exchange for veneration… and sex

• Read a Q&A with Ottessa Moshfegh: ‘I wanted to tell a story in which I wasn’t a victim’

The day before I left home for college, I made a phone call to the publishing house of a writer I’ll call Rupert Dicks. Dicks had a reputation as one of the most audacious and brilliant minds in literature in the last century, and his work represented everything I held as sacred at the time – he was innovative, unapologetic and dedicated to the craft of honest prose. At 17, I knew I was a writer, and I wanted to know what Rupert Dicks knew. I was determined to get him to tell me.

“I’m calling because I’m a student ...