I never know when I finish the novel I am writing which will be the next novel out of the station.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t, as a writer, not be aware of the necessity to revise yourself constantly.
I don’t really set out to explore grand themes. I set out to tell a story. And one I have to be able to imagine right through.
You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.
Anybody can do research. The plotting of the novel, writing the ending before you write anything else, which I always do – I don’t know that everybody can do that. That’s the hard part.
I don’t think I’ve had a very interesting life, and I feel that is a great liberation. That gives me great freedom as a fiction writer. Nothing that happened holds any special tyranny over me.
I don’t begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don’t mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey.
My first attraction to writing novels was the plot, that almost extinct animal. Those novels I read which made me want to be a novelist were long, always plotted, novels – not just Victorian novels, but also those of my New England ancestors: Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
I wasn’t afraid of anything until I had a kid. Then I was terrified because immediately I could imagine a hundred ways in which I could not protect him.
I grew up in a family where, through my teenage years, I was expected to go to church on Sunday. It wasn’t terribly painful. I thought some of the stories were neat; I liked some of the liturgy and some of the songs.
One of the humbling things about having written more than one novel is the sense that every time you begin, that new empty page does not know who you are.
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.
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.
When I was still in prep school – 14, 15 – I started keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my day and what happened to me, but I described things.
I think there is often a ‘what if’ proposition that gets me thinking about all my novels.