'Writing is dreams caught in butterfly nets. It’s falling in love for the first time. It’s adventures my knees are too old to have. And mysteries my brain is too dull to solve. Writing is my escape. My means of coming back to myself. I write because I love it.'
'Poetry provides some unique satisfactions; the epigrammatic click of a word locking a couplet, the exact phrase that nails a sound, texture, colour or movement. A little like completing a crossword. (Actually, I don't do crosswords; I work on a sonnet.)'
'So, if not books, what am I thinking of when I write? Why do I think I am doing it? It seems to me that I am bringing my attention to lived experience — be that my own or how I imagine that of others to have been. I’m focussing on shades of experience, '
'Like Dorothy Parker, I love ‘having written’. Sometimes, when I sit down to write, despondent because my mind feels empty, as though nothing worthwhile can emerge, the magic happens anyway. As if my hand is guided by an unseen force.'
'Wipeout is a leap of faith, propelling you down a near-vertical drop until you’d spark if you weren’t drenched. Corners, twists, turns, at death-defying speed, until you’re flung like spent flotsam into the churning waters below. Wipeout is for tough kids.'
'I was brought up in a loving working-class family. This instilled a level of safety that allows me to investigate the darker side of life, exploring another person’s pain and injustices. But there’s always humour: the co-existence of darkness and light. '
'These were generally a few foolscap pages, folded in half and held together with now-yellowing Sellotape. There’d be a jacket design, a title, an ornate declaration of authorship, a blurb on the back, table of contents, and often not a lot in between.'
'I left home the day I left school, began a new life in a bedsit. I lived on glucose tablets, Saveloy sausages and chips. I wrote stories and poems. I was very happy. If I’d had to sum it up – the motive behind my writing – I might have said ‘freedom’.'
'Most – and not all, but most – of those artists I met when I was a boy shared one thing in common. They wanted to create more than they wanted to do anything else. Initially I didn’t find that certainty inspiring. If anything, it was off-putting...'
'I had no idea anyone else would ever read what I had written, let alone publish my story, so nothing about it mattered, giving me complete creative freedom. Writing a book now has become a different experience, more satisfying and more terrifying. '