‘Only we know how deeply we felt those words, how hard we clung to the belief that they would one day find a shelf in a library or bookshop. And our characters! We cannot turn them out of the house. In any case, no word is ever wasted, we’re told. ‘
'If I’ve put in enough hours, if I’ve proved to the Muse that I am dedicated and loyal, there comes a time when she does arrive, unexpectedly and unannounced, in all her golden glory. And when this happens I don’t have time for inspirational quotes. '
'How do you get your ideas?’ If this seems a silly question to you: try not to say that. Think ahead and make up a reason. You’re a creator! Invent. And if your audience is bijou — shall we say — involve them.'
'I come from a long line of home-grown storytellers. At extended family gatherings my mother would cook big pots of fragrant Indian food and suddenly stories about our beloved farm close to the Himalaya would spring into the conversation.'
'Why is rejection inevitable?’ I eventually came up with my game-changing theory. It’s called the Rejection is Actually an Essential Part of the Process theory. I’m aware that the name needs some work.'
'The time I should have devoted to producing academic papers had been spent writing poetry. I managed to publish three collections alongside my academic career but had been too busy working and caring to build on my writing achievements.'
'I came to writing late in life, having never for a moment thought I would become a published novelist. It simply never occurred to me that I could or ever would become a writer. My working-class roots put it well beyond any horizon of mine.'
'It was impossible for me to go into a stately home (a treat for a seven year old) and not enquire whether there had been any blood shed, or bones found in the priest hole. Becoming a crime journalist and then a crime novelist was always on the cards. '
'As pilgrims we were captivated by the landscape as it changed around us, concerned with basic facts of where we would eat and sleep, and charged with the encounters and conversations that shaped each day. I had no desire for a fictional world.'
'There was no one in the once-a-monastery-now-a-restaurant but us — maybe the festival had booked the whole restaurant, which didn’t strike me as out of keeping with the general oddness of this globetrotting cohort of writers and translators.'