Most people like to read about intrigue and spies. I hope to provide a metaphor for the average reader's daily life. Most of us live in a slightly conspiratorial relationship with our employer and perhaps with our marriage.
There are some subjects that can only be tackled in fiction.
In the last 15 or 20 years, I've watched the British press simply go to hell. There seems to be no limit, no depths to which the tabloids won't sink. I don't know who these people are but they're little pigs.
America has entered one of its periods of historic madness, but this is the worst I can remember.
When you are brought up as a frozen child, you go on freezing. It wasn't until I had my four sons, who have brought me immense joy, that I began to thaw. That I realised how utterly extraordinary my childhood was.
I mean, I'm in the business of storytelling, not message making.
But there is a big difference in working for the West and working for a totalitarian state.
History keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But she has one secret that I will reveal to you tonight in the greatest confidence. Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose.
The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous. But neither, in my experience, do we ever reach a plane of detachment regarding our parents, however wise and old we may become. To pretend otherwise is to cheat.
I don't think it is given to any of us to be impertinent to great religions with impunity.
I grew up in a completely bookless household. It was my father's boast that he had never read a book from end to end.
The creation of George Smiley, the retired spy recalled to hunt for just such a high-ranking mole in 'Tinker, Tailor,' was extremely personal. I borrowed elements of people I admired and invested them in this mythical character. I'm such a fluent, specious person now, but I was an extremely awkward fellow in those days.
I've had nothing to do with the intelligence world since I left it, in any shade or variety.
It is my writing dilemma. The world of spying is my genre. My struggle is to demystify, to de-romanticise the spook world, but at the same time harness it as a good story.
Fools, most linguists. Damn all to say in one language, so they learn another and say damn all in that.
I remain terrified of the capacity of the media, the capacity of spin doctors, here and abroad, particularly the United States media, to perpetuate false lies, perpetuate lies.
I do believe very much in movie as a one-man-show. I think that where I've watched movie go wrong, it's usually because the dread committee has been interfering with it.
Well, certainly I don't think that there are very many good writers who don't live without a sense of tension. If they haven't got one immediately available to them, then they usually manage to manufacture it in their private lives.
Once you've lived the inside-out world of espionage, you never shed it. It's a mentality, a double standard of existence.
Until we have a better relationship between private performance and the public truth, as was demonstrated with Watergate, we as the public are absolutely right to remain suspicious, contemptuous even, of the secrecy and the misinformation which is the digest of our news.
In every war zone that I've been in, there has been a reality and then there has been the public perception of why the war was being fought. In every crisis, the issues have been far more complex than the public has been allowed to know.
During the Cold War, we lived in coded times when it wasn't easy and there were shades of grey and ambiguity.
My definition of a decent society is one that first of all takes care of its losers, and protects its weak.
You have no idea how humiliating it was, as a boy, to suddenly have all your clothes, your toys, snatched by the bailiff. I mean we were a middle-class family, it's not as if it was happening up and down the street. It made me ashamed, I felt dirty.
Writing is like walking in a deserted street. Out of the dust in the street you make a mud pie.
I think that where I've watched a movie go wrong, it's usually because the dread committee has been interfering with it.
I was quite able at the insignificant work I did in MI6, but absolutely dysfunctional in my domestic life. I had no experience of fatherhood. I had no example of marital bliss or the family unit.
A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it.
I suffer from the same frustration that every decent American suffers from. That is, that you begin to wonder whether decent liberal instincts, decent humanitarian instincts, can actually penetrate the right-wing voice, get through the steering of American opinion by the mass media.
More particularly, having a largely German-oriented education has made me very responsive to 19th-century German literature.
It's part of a writer's profession, as it's part of a spy's profession, to prey on the community to which he's attached, to take away information - often in secret - and to translate that into intelligence for his masters, whether it's his readership or his spy masters. And I think that both professions are perhaps rather lonely.
The Secret Intelligence Service I knew occupied dusky suites of little rooms opposite St James's Park Tube station in London.
People who've had very unhappy childhoods are pretty good at inventing themselves. If nobody invents you for yourself, nothing is left but to invent yourself for others.
I grew up in a completely bookless household. It was my father's boast that he had never read a book from end to end. I don't remember any of his ladies being bookish. So I was entirely dependent on my schoolteachers for my early reading with the exception of 'The Wind in the Willows,' which a stepmother read to me when I was in hospital.
'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' was the work of a wayward imagination brought to the end of its tether by political disgust and personal confusion.
Remember Graham Green's dictum that childhood is the bank balance of the writer? I think that all writers feel alienated. Most of us go back to an alienated childhood in some way or another. I know that I do.
It's necessary to understand what real intelligence work is. It will never cease. It's absolutely essential that we have it. At its best, it is simply the left arm of healthy governmental curiosity. It brings to a strong government what it needs to know. It's the collection of information, a journalistic job, if you will, but done in secret.
But I think the real tension lies in the relationship between what you might call the pursuer and his quarry, whether it's the writer or the spy.
The longing we have to communicate cleanly and directly with people is always obstructed by qualifications and often with concern about how our messages will be received.
I think bankers will always get away with whatever they can get away with.
If there is one eternal truth of politics, it is that there are always a dozen good reasons for doing nothing.
By the age of 9 or 10, I knew that I had to cut my own cloth and make my own way.
Every writer knows he is spurious; every fiction writer would rather be credible than authentic.
The merit of 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold,' then - or its offence, depending where you stood - was not that it was authentic, but that it was credible.