'Commonly, a writer is driven by heartbreak, fury or the desperate need for money. A friend was so incensed at being sacked from a newspaper that she was inspired to write a novel which became a bestseller. ‘It was pure hatred which drove me’, she said. '
'A friend once gave me a very elegant ladies writing desk. It is made from walnut with curved legs and lots of useful little compartments. But it was designed for a time when ladies sat down with a crisp sheet of writing paper and little else. '
'I tried, really I did. I meditated in a prayer circle, attended a book reading, ate an expensive organic breakfast and forced myself to smile. But the smugness of the crowd grated. They were all so pleased with themselves.'
'Our 'not up to much' has within it the seed of something useful, and a rewrite can lead to something not bad... It's the unrealistic expectation — if not outright fantasy — that we can write a dazzling first draft which keeps us inert.'
'A grounding in contextual fact transformed my own book, and Beryl Bainbridge went on to be shortlisted for the Booker in 1998 for Master Georgie, the novel she was writing at the time of our conversation.'
'My mind wasn't really on the job. Within six months of my arrival in San Francisco, I was married to a gay man who I would later nurse, as he died of AIDS. I was twenty-two.'
'It is my habit to circle a piece of writing warily for as long as possible, looking for the entry point, a way in, the lever, which will bring on the flood; this can take hours, days or weeks.'
'A devout Catholic, mother of seven, kindly confidante and prodigious drinker and smoker of fags, Alice Thomas Ellis was both my literary midwife and fairy godmother, and I adored her.'
The novelist Anna Haycraft (Alice Thomas Ellis) died of lung cancer in 2005. Deborah Bosley, who along with Beryl Bainbridge, Shelley Weiner and Caroline Blackwood was one of Anna’s literary protégés, recalls a life rich in letters, love, children and faith. At the centre of it all was Anna’s profound domesticity, heady with books, booze, family and fags. And it revolved round the kitchen table.