It takes me three months of research and nine months of work to produce a book. When I start writing, I do two pages a day; if I'm gonna do 320, that's 160 days.

I started out when I was 29 - too young to write novels. I was broke. I was on unemployment insurance. I was supposed to be writing a Ph.D. dissertation, so I had a typewriter and a lot of paper.

A book must have moral purpose to be any good. Why, I don't know.

I was going to be the best failed novelist in Paris. That was certainly not the worst thing in the world that one could be.

When I went to prep school in New York City, I had to ride the subway and learned how to do homework on the train. I can work and read through anything.

I would have loved to have another 10 Eric Ambler books.

People know accuracy when they read it; they can feel it.

The 1930s was a funny time. People knew they might not live for another six months, so if they were attracted to one another, there was no time to dawdle.

I basically wrote five books with 'Night Soldiers,' called them novellas, and came in with a 600-page manuscript.

You can't make accommodations in crucial situations and be heroic.

I chose a time in the century which had the greatest moments for novels - the late '30s and World War II.

I have a very serious censorship office inside my head; it censors things that I could tell you that you would never forget, and I don't want to be the person to stick that in your brain.

Seattle's support system got me through those early, difficult years. It was a very funky, very friendly, very relaxed place that had it all for a writer.

For something that's supposed to be secret, there is a lot of intelligence history. Every time I read one book, two more are published.

When you move a border, suddenly life changes violently. I write about nationality.

Once you have your characters, they tell you what to write, you don't tell them.

I read very little contemporary anything... I don't think I read what other people read, but then why would I, considering what I do?

I'm not really a mass market writer.

I wrote out little mysteries in longhand, and my mother typed them out on an old Remington.

I never got any training in how to write novels as an English major at Oberlin, but I got some great training for writing novels from anthropology and from Margaret Mead.

Good people don't spend their time being good. Good people want to spend their time mowing the lawn and playing with the dog. But bad people spend all their time being bad. It is all they think about.

I've always liked lost, old New York.

I've never lived in Eastern Europe, although both my wife and I have ancestors in Poland and Russia - but I can see the scenes I create.

If you read the history of the national Socialist party, they're all people who felt like life should have been better to them. They're disappointed, vengeful, angry.

The best Paris I know now is in my head.

I've evolved in my writing to tell a more emotional story - my publisher, Random House, has urged that.

Le Carre's voice - patrician, cold, brilliant and amused - was perfect for the wilderness-of-mirrors undertow of the Cold War, and George Smiley is the all-time harassed bureaucrat of spy fiction.

The idea that someone is going to write me, and I'm not going to answer - I was just raised not to do that. We are the result of our upbringing, and my upbringing was very much to meet obligations... You just didn't let things go.

I don't really write plots. I use history as the engine that drives everything.

I think I honestly invented my own genre, the historical spy novel.

Romantic love, or sex, is the only good thing in a life that is being lived in a dark way.

I had the experience of a monk copying documents, applying myself assiduously to my work. And I thought whatever happened, happened - this is just what I do in my life.

I'm basically an Upper West Side Jewish writer.

We're the roughest people in the way we play and live, and that is because Americans come from people who all got up one morning and went 5,000 miles, and that was a time in the 19th century when it wasn't so easy to do.

I like to say I sit alone in my room, and I fight the language. I am wildly obsessive. I can't let something go if I think it's wrong.

Anthony Powell taught me to write; he has such brilliant control of the mechanics of the novel.

I just became what I call an 'anti-fascist novelist.' There is no word that covers both the fascists and the Communists, which mean different things to people, but of course they're the same: they're tyranny states.

I look for the dark story, where something secret was done. I read and read and pick up the trail of a true story. I use nothing but true stories. They are so much better than phony ones.

Yes, I'm a reasonably good self-taught historian of the 1930s and '40s. I've never wanted to write about another time or place. I wouldn't know what to say about contemporary society.

Moscow had this incredible, intense atmosphere of intrigue and darkness and secrecy.

When I get asked about novelists I like, they tend to be white, male, and British, like Graham Greene. They write the kind of declarative sentences I like. I don't like to be deflected by acrobatics.

My grandmother, whom I adored, and who partly raised me, loved Liberace, and she watched Liberace every afternoon, and when she watched Liberace, she'd get dressed up and put on makeup because I think she thought if she could see Liberace, Liberace could see her.

You have to have heart's passion to write a novel.

Let me put it this way: I don't plan to retire. What would I do, become a brain surgeon? I mean, a brain surgeon can retire and write novels, but a novelist can't retire and do brain surgery - or at least he better not.

The only way you can handle big kinds of questions is to simply state briefly what the truth was. What am I going to tell you about the Holocaust? Would you like three pages about it? I don't think you would... I don't think anything different than you think - it was horrible.

For me, Anthony Powell is a religion. I read 'A Dance to the Music of Time' every few years.

What you get in the Cold War is 'the wilderness of mirrors' where you have to figure out what's good and what's evil. That's good for John le Carre, but not me.

I love Paris for the million reasons that everybody loves the city. It's an incredibly romantic and beautiful place.

If you can live in Paris, maybe you should.