|Occupation||Writer and novelist|
I think that we are all much closer to our childhood selves than we often think, so when we read about childhood, it can surprise us how immediate or moving it is, when perhaps those feelings are just there, waiting to be accessed all the time.
I'm never happy with what I've written. You imagine, before you start, there's a cathedral, and the moment it starts on the page, it's a garden shed. And then you just try to make it the best shed you can.
Art is inspiring. Walking into a gallery, or when the lights go up on a stage; that thrill of getting something that has nothing to do with acquisition.
We feel the pull of nature very strongly, relating – even unknowingly – feeling in ourselves to bulbs being stirred in frozen ground, or to the branches of dead trees. Perhaps this indivisibility from nature is an important thing to recognize as we go about our business in the world.
My father is from Jamaica, and as a child I spent many holidays there. I remember the weight and drenching wetness of that hot rain, as I experienced it in my childhood, not only for itself, but for what it represented for me.
I think if you write about human relationships, you're always exploring the psyche and the soul. I don't separate certain – perhaps more extreme – things that people do from others.
When I was a child, I wanted to raise horses in Wyoming or be a cabin boy on a pirate ship.
I love writing on trains. The joy of being a writer is it's all in your head; you don't need materials apart from the laptop. It's like taking your work home with you, so you can feel grounded in your own insane writerly realities wherever you are.
If I think about the writers I love or might be influenced by, I can't write at all, so I pretend there aren't any.
I don't eat when I'm working. If I start to fridge-raid, I'm in trouble.
I remember people saying: 'You look funny, your hair is so black, you have a flat nose,' but I didn't think of it being racism, and I still don't. But there was a sense of difference, of being an outsider.
When I'm writing, I spend all my time in The Grocer on Elgin buying ready-made meals; I think they are the only reason my husband and kids haven't left me.
You wouldn't know it, but I'm no good at recognising people; I have face blindness.
In England, rain was thin and cold, and made you hunch up inside your coat, walking home from the bus stop. In Jamaica, it was wide and thick and invited you to step into it, and see how wet you could get, and be thrilled that it was warmer than the sea and warmer than your skin; it was abandon.
I don't get distracted until the weight of other things left undone finally tips the balance; my mind is flooded with calls, bills, supermarkets, letters, and I have to stop and sort things out.
I have a study now – I used not to. I also love working in cafes; ignoring noise is good for concentration.
Remove all the traffic lights, yellow lines, one-way systems and road markings, and let blissful anarchy prevail. I imagine it would produce a kind of harmony.
I try not to picture a reader when I'm writing. It's like trying to make a great table but not picturing anybody sitting at it.
My favourite author as a child and teenager, and who I still re-read now, is K. M. Peyton. She writes very truthfully; sometimes I'm not sure if I've actually done things or just experienced them in her books.
I like to come into my workspace and feel it's a living environment and not frozen, which is why I often change or add to the pictures on the wall.
I've always thought it was important not to attach too much superstition to the space where you're writing, because once you get into the mindset that you can only do it a certain way in a certain place, your creativity can get blocked.