One of the things that struck me about the 1870s, which we still haven't nearly addressed, is what to do about the male-female divide. One of the forbidden topics is when men own up to the omnivorousness of their sexual interest and how to square that with being in love with an individual woman.
Most books are surplus to the world's requirements, and I am going to sound very conceited here, but I am trying to write books that aren't just using up trees.
'The Crimson Petal and the White' is a book, and it will win or lose the trust of each reader when they begin reading its pages. That relationship will go on.
Art is head space that is very exclusive: it shuts people out; other people cease to exist.
I'm constantly listening to music and thinking about it and compiling my own cassettes and CDs in obsessively specific order. I have quite lunatic agendas for what I want to achieve. They won't make sense to anyone other than me, but it is what I've spent most of my life doing.
The privileged Victorians who did most to improve the lives of the poor were not ashamed of their pious intent: they were superiors seeking to help inferiors.
'A Christmas Carol' is an extravagantly symbolic thing - as rich in symbols as Christmas pudding is rich in raisins.
When we ask bureaucrats to identify who is responsible for fixing anything, they reassure us that there are 'procedures in place.'
A text may be superbly written, exquisitely subtle, deeply meaningful, but still seem like a luxury extra, something we add to the already well-stocked store of our reading experience.
All my novels are about people who strive to heal and evolve.
For years, I was quite a militant atheist. I wanted to burn down all the churches or turn them into second-hand record emporiums.
I am open-eyed about what poverty does to people.
I get increasingly respectful of people who have faith and increasingly creeped out by them.
I had been attempting novels since I was 14 but always ran out of steam. High hopes, poor craftsmanship.
I tend to process emotional stuff very, very slowly.
I think I have written the things I was put on Earth to write.
I was disinclined to have the status of a writer.
I'm a loner and always have been.
I'm still tremendously proud of 'Crimson Petal.' I'm still very emotionally involved with these characters. I still care about them.
If someone's a cartoon villain, you can dismiss them, but if they behave despicably but you kind of like them, they really get under your skin.