It's very shocking, I think, for people caring for the dying to realise how unsaintly they feel, how much anger is mixed up with their grief. In fact, often I think the anger that they feel is a form of grief; it's a kind of raging against what's happening.
I think some people wished I'd kept myself out of the book. But I kind of insist on it because I want the reader to share my engagement with the material, if you like, not pretend that I'm doing it completely intellectually.
It's a terrific privilege to be able to see into somebody else's life.
We were in a great, seething moment in the 1970s. There was a new Labour government and everything seemed full of hope… But, as we got older and we saw how much women's behaviour contributed to what was wrong, we stopped being able to see ourselves purely as.
I think that there must be a point of self-immersion in a story that is a point of no return. You get far enough in that the story has really touched you to the core and deeply troubled you and made you unhappy and fearful, and then how do you get out of that? I'm a writer, so my way of getting out of that is to write.
I just… my childhood seems, when I look back, to be largely composed of reading, lying on the bed. I mean, my mother was always shouting, 'Go outside!' But she shouted it at all of us. I think I was just kind of… rather an introverted child, probably.
While I was writing 'The Spare Room,' I thought, 'I'm going to look really bad in this book – there's no redeeming this kind of awful, ugly emotion', and I thought, 'I'm not going to change it. I'll call the character 'Helen' and admit to those feelings.' I think this is a reason why people write.
I used to feel an obligation to invent things. I felt I was a failure because I didn't do massive great novels about Australia or the outback or something. I just don't feel that any more.
Life's fairly excruciating. Painful things happen. Every now and then, you drag yourself out of the stream and stand on the bank gasping for air. I think that's how I work.
Courts are supposed to be places of reason. But this, of course, is a fantasy. I mean, there is reason being used as a technique. But courts, in fact, are baths of emotions.
I tell you one thing that makes me feel I haven't wasted my life, and that is I've got some grandchildren. You can't overestimate the kind of opening to the future that gives a person, I think.
As in all matters involving love, which has so many different meanings, you find that the feeling that we label 'love' is not a simple feeling, it's a very complex one. Under the heading 'love' can come all sorts of rage and desperation.
I don't believe that anything's totally invented… If you're completely inventing a story, there wouldn't be an urge to tell it.
Janet Malcolm's probably the writer I most admire and who's most influenced me.
Now, I – for several years while I was researching this book, I felt quite obsessed by thoughts about sentencing, punishment, how judges arrive at their decisions.
Well, I'm at some kind of crossroads in my life and I don't know which way to take. It's not about money, I mean, because I'm established enough now as a writer to get a reasonable advance if I wanted to do fiction.
The rain began again. It fell heavily, easily, with no meaning or intention but the fulfilment of its own nature, which was to fall and fall.
That's the best thing that's ever happened to me, bar none, is having grandchildren and living by them and being part of their lives.
There's only one thing I know what to do, so I'm pretty much otherwise unemployable. The idea that you can make a living from exercising your only skill is wonderful. And it's wonderful to be read. It's a really exciting and happy thing to be read.
I don't understand my own sporadic collapses into passivity. Perhaps I never will.
At the time it seemed like a natural development of my interest in what was going on around me in society.
It's disturbing at my age to look at a young woman's destructive behaviour and hear the echoes of it, of one's own destructiveness in youth.
Maybe this is pathetic, but I still dread producing a book that doesn't earn back its advance. I hate obligations that are financially foggy.
It's much more interesting for me to think that taking a chunk of experience and mushing it up together with other things that are inventible, remembered from some other time or stolen from other people's stories… and see if I can make it into something that works, an object, a little machine that runs.
People demand a lot of the justice system and they demand things that it can't deliver.
That's one of the things I hope that the book can do, is to restore some dignity to Joe Cinque.
The only thing that I was equipped for with my very mediocre college Arts degree was to get a job in teaching.
But I now think what I was doing, in a completely unconscious way, was getting off the turf where my husband and I might be rivals. We were both working in fiction… so I look back and I see that I consciously vacated the contested ground.
I suppose there must be idiots who dream of signing deals with publishers while fully intending to drink martinis in cool bars or ride around on skateboards. But the actual writers I know are experts in neurotic self-torture. Every page of writing is the result of a thousand tiny decisions and desperate acts of will.
Writers seem to me to be people who need to retire from social life and do a lot of thinking about what's happened – almost to calm themselves.