With every book, you go back to school. You become a student. You become an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it's like to live in someone else's shoes.
Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!
As many times as I've seen 'The Merchant of Venice,' I always take Shylock's side. For all the hatred that guy is shown, he has a reason to hate in return. He's treated cruelly. And it's tragic that he learns to be intolerant because of what others do to him.
I think there is often a 'what if' proposition that gets me thinking about all my novels.
You don't want to dwell on your enemies, you know. I basically feel so superior to my critics for the simple reason that they haven't done what I do. Most book reviewers haven't written 11 novels. Many of them haven't written one.
If you presume to love something, you must love the process of it much more than you love the finished product.
To each other, we were as normal and nice as the smell of bread. We were just a family. In a family even exaggerations make perfect sense.
If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.
Good habits are worth being fanatical about.
I write the last line, and then I write the line before that. I find myself writing backwards for a while, until I have a solid sense of how that ending sounds and feels. You have to know what your voice sounds like at the end of the story, because it tells you how to sound when you begin.
I grew up without a father, who was kept a mystery to me. There was a sense of uprootedness, things being one day here and the next day not; a sense anything could happen. Then, all of a sudden, my mother met my stepfather, and her life became happier, and my life changed, my name changed.
Titles are important; I have them before I have books that belong to them. I have last chapters in my mind before I see first chapters, too. I usually begin with endings, with a sense of aftermath, of dust settling, of epilogue.
You can't learn everything you need to know legally.
It's not very interesting to establish sympathy for people who, on the surface, are instantly sympathetic. I guess I'm always attracted to people who, if their lives were headlines in a newspaper, you might not be very sympathetic about them.
Of all the things you choose in life, you don't get to choose what your nightmares are. You don't pick them; they pick you.
I'm not writing non-fiction. I don't feel anything about me as a kid was unique. Except that I had more interest in being alone and using my imagination.
I grew up around books - my grandmother's house, where I lived as a small child, was full of books. My father was a history teacher, and he loved the Russian novels. There were always books around.
I suppose I try to look for those things where the world turns on you. It's every automobile accident, every accident at a party, you're having a good time until suddenly you're not.
And I find - I'm 63, and my capacity to be by myself and just spend time by myself hasn't diminished any. That's the necessary part of being a writer, you better like being alone.
I have a very poor record at multiple choice questions.