All my books are made up of other books. They're all deeply structured on other fiction, because I was a student in fiction and I didn't have much actual living to draw on. I suspect a lot of other people's novels are like that, too, though they might be slower to talk about it.
It's difficult to tell the truth about how a book begins. The truth, as far as it can be presented to other people, is either wholly banal or too intimate.
As far as I'm concerned, if you want to find out about the last day of WWII or the roots of the Indian Mutiny, get thee to a books catalogue.
I have an ambition to write a great book, but that's really a competition with myself. I've noticed that a lot of young writers, people in all media, want to be famous but they don't really want to do anything. I can't think of anything less worth striving for than fame.
Cambridge was a joy. Tediously. People reading books in a posh place. It was my fantasy. I loved it. I miss it still.
First rule of writing: When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
I don't keep any copies of my books in the house - they go to my mum's flat. I don't like them around.
I like books that don't give you an easy ride. I like the feeling of discomfort. The sense of being implicated.
I like books that expose me to people unlike me and books that do battle against caricature or simplification. That, to me, is the heroic in fiction.
If you're going to write a good book, you have to make mistakes and you have to not be so cautious all the time.
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