I think better of our behaviour as individuals than I do when we see ourselves as members of a group. It's when people start forming groups that we have to watch our backs.

I have a very poor record at multiple choice questions.

Sigmund Freud was a novelist with a scientific background. He just didn't know he was a novelist. All those damn psychiatrists after him, they didn't know he was a novelist either.

I write the last line, and then I write the line before that. I find myself writing backwards for a while, until I have a solid sense of how that ending sounds and feels. You have to know what your voice sounds like at the end of the story, because it tells you how to sound when you begin.

Whatever I write, no matter how gray or dark the subject matter, it's still going to be a comic novel.

I take people very seriously. People are all I take seriously, in fact. Therefore, I have nothing but sympathy for how people behave - and nothing but laughter to console them with.

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.

There's no reason you should write any novel quickly.

I've always preferred writing in longhand. I've always written first drafts in longhand.

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 never know when I finish the novel I am writing which will be the next novel out of the station.

Your memory is a monster; you forget - it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you - and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!

When I love a novel I've read, I want to reread it - in part, to see how it was constructed.

You've got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.

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.

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.

I get up early. I like to read a little before anyone but the dog is up. I also like to read at night, not in bed but just before I go to bed.

The principal event of my childhood was that no adult in my family would tell me who my father was.

I do know where I'm going and it's just a matter of finding the language to get there.

I think there is often a 'what if' proposition that gets me thinking about all my novels.

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.

Sometimes that's a year, sometimes it's 18 months, where all I'm doing is taking notes. I'm reconstructing the story from the back to the front so that I know where the front is.

And I find - I'm 63, and my capacity to be by myself and just spend time by myself hasn't diminished any. That's the necessary part of being a writer, you better like being alone.

If I have any advantage, maybe, as a writer, it is that I don't think I'm very interesting. I mean, beginning a novel with the last sentence is a pretty plodding way to spend your life.

I have pretty thick skin, and I think if you're going to be in this business, if you're going to be an actor or a writer, you better have a thick skin.

I suppose I'm proudest of my novels for what's imagined in them. I think the world of my imagination is a richer and more interesting place than my personal biography.

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 believe in rules of behavior, and I'm quite interested in stories about the consequences of breaking those rules.

You know, people think you have to be dumb to skip rope for 45 minutes. No, you have to be able to imagine something else. While you're skipping rope, you have to be able to see something else.

I sometimes think that what I do as a writer is make a kind of colouring book, where all the lines are there, and then you put in the colour.

I believe in plot, in development of character, in the effect of the passage of time, in a good story - better than something you might find in the newspaper. And I believe a novel should be as complicated and involved as you're capable of making it.

You don't want to dwell on your enemies, you know. I basically feel so superior to my critics for the simple reason that they haven't done what I do. Most book reviewers haven't written 11 novels. Many of them haven't written one.

Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties.

I believe that, in any novel of mine, the principal objective is the construction of the whole.

I'm not writing non-fiction. I don't feel anything about me as a kid was unique. Except that I had more interest in being alone and using my imagination.

I grew up around books - my grandmother's house, where I lived as a small child, was full of books. My father was a history teacher, and he loved the Russian novels. There were always books around.

I lived five years in the Midwest, and I loved it. The people were so nice. The people were so open.

Half my life is an act of revision.

I'm not a twentieth-century novelist, I'm not modern, and certainly not postmodern. I follow the form of the nineteenth-century novel; that was the century that produced the models of the form. I'm old-fashioned, a storyteller. I'm not an analyst, and I'm not an intellectual.

I don't read anything electronically. I don't write electronically, either - except e-mails to my family and friends. I write in longhand. I have always written first drafts by hand, but I used to write subsequent drafts and insert pages on a typewriter.

I've always been a fan of the 19th century novel, of the novel that is plotted, character-driven, and where the passage of time is almost as central to the novel as a major minor character, the passage of time and its effect on the characters in the story.

To each other, we were as normal and nice as the smell of bread. We were just a family. In a family even exaggerations make perfect sense.

So, I don't work in terms of real time. I don't work in a timely fashion.

'The Fourth Hand' was a novel that came from twenty years of screenwriting concurrently with whatever novel I'm writing.

No adult in my family would ever tell me anything about who my father was. I knew from an older cousin - only four years older than I am - everything, or what little I could discover about him.

More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.

There's no reason you shouldn't, as a writer, not be aware of the necessity to revise yourself constantly.

There's a lot of ignorance about how long it takes to write a novel. There's a lot of ignorance about how long a novel is in your head before you start to write it.

You can't learn everything you need to know legally.