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" At the risk of sounding like Virginia Woolf, I could live on £700 a year. "
" Not being boring is quite a challenge. "
" One important theme is the extent to which one can ever correct an error, especially outside any frame of religious forgiveness. All of us have done something we regret - how we manage to remove that from our conscience, or whether that's even possible, interested me. "
" Now, I'm an atheist. I really don't believe for a moment that our moral sense comes from a god. "
" Politics is the enemy of the imagination. "
" True intelligence requires fabulous imagination. "
" Reading reviews makes you thin-skinned. It's like waves washing layers off your skin. "
" What is it precisely, that feeling of 'returning' from a poem? Something is lighter, softer, larger - then it fades, but never completely. "
" I wouldn't mind being the lead guitarist in an incredibly successful rock band. However, I don't play the guitar. "
" The end of secrecy would be the end of the novel - especially the English novel. The English novel requires social secrecy, personal secrecy. "
" My father's drinking was sometimes a problem. And a great deal went unspoken. He was not particularly acute or articulate about the emotions. But he was very affectionate towards me. "
" I apologize for being obvious, but every time I watch the curtain come down on even a halfway decent production of a Shakespeare play I feel a little sorrowful that I'll never know the man, or any man of such warm intelligence. "
" If I could write the perfect novella I would die happy. "
If I Could
" I'm quite good at not writing. "
" Novelists have to be adept at controlling the flow of information, and, most crucially, they have to be in charge of the narrative. "
" Scientists do stand on the shoulders of giants, just as do writers. Conversely, in the arts we do make discoveries. We do refine our tools. So I am arguing with, or at least playing with, the idea that art never improves. "
" I was an intimate sort of child who never spoke up in groups. I preferred close friends. "
" I think of novels in architectural terms. You have to enter at the gate, and this gate must be constructed in such a way that the reader has immediate confidence in the strength of the building. "
" Some people are tied to five hundred words a day, six days a week. I'm a hesitater. "
" You could say that all novels are spy novels and all novelists are spy masters. "
" When I began I thought that literature was contained within a bubble that somehow floated above the world commented upon by newspapers. But I became more and more interested in trying to include some of that world within my work. "
" You enter a state of controlled passivity, you relax your grip and accept that even if your declared intention is to justify the ways of God to man, you might end up interesting your readers rather more in Satan. "
" The moment you have children and a mortgage you want things to work; you're locked into the human project and you want it to flourish. "
" It should simply be an empirical matter whether the climate is changing or not and whether we're responsible. But the various sides of the debate have now become so tribal that it's no longer a matter of changing our views as more information comes in. "
" Something is missing in our culture. We can't quite celebrate the scientific literary tradition. "
" How often one reads a contemporary full-length novel and thinks quietly, mutinously, that it would have worked out better at half or a third the length. "
" A twenty-one-year-old writer is likely to be inhibited by a lack of usable experience. Childhood and adolescence were something I knew. "
" What I've discovered and really confirmed to myself is that opera really likes loud colours, and you need something bold, something savage, unpredictable, passionate. You can't really run a two-hour opera round some muted murmuring. "
" I actually find novels that are determined to be funny at every turn quite oppressive. "
" I want to live in a place where strangers rush to help someone in distress. "
" Atheists have as much conscience, possibly more, than people with deep religious conviction, and they still have the same problem of how they reconcile themselves to a bad deed in the past. It's a little easier if you've got a god to forgive you. "