The author, 78, was quoted in the Barcelona-based daily La Vanguardia as saying: "The year 2005 was the first in my life when I did not write a single line.

"I haven't sat before a computer. And besides, I have no prospect or prospects to do it. I had never stopped writing, this is the first year in my life I haven't done any writing.

"I used to work every day from 9am to 3pm. I used to say that it was to keep my arm warm, but it really was because I had nothing else to do in the morning."

However, Garcia Marquez said there might be another book in him - if inspiration strikes, but he is not optimistic, according to the newspaper.

"If tomorrow a new novel occurred to me, that would be fantastic. With the practice I have, I could write another novel without further problems, but people notice when one has not put the guts in it."

Slowed output

Often described as the father of magical realism, he is best known for One Hundred Years of Solitude - which earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982 - Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and News of a Kidnapping.

"Fame nearly ruined my life, because it disrupts the sense of reality such is the power"

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

But in recent years Garcia Marquez's output has slowed considerably.

In 2002, he published Living to Tell the Tale, the first volume of an autobiography, and kept his fans waiting 10 years for his last novel, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, which tells the story of a 90-year-old man who wants to celebrate his birthday by taking the virginity of a teenage girl. The book came out in 2004.

Dangerous fame

Garcia Marquez was quoted as saying he had been trying to finish the second instalment of his memoirs, but he said he probably would not write it.

He said that influence and fame could be dangerous.

"Something very pleasant for a writer, but you have got to know how to keep it at bay. Fame nearly ruined my life, because it disrupts the sense of reality, such is the power. It condemns you to loneliness, it creates a problem of communication that isolates you," he said.

One reported reason for the writer's silence has been his fight against lymphatic cancer.