Criminality being partially preordained may seem to let culprits off the hook. Yet it also makes the proclivity seem ineradicable and suggests that reform is unlikely: once a baddie, always a baddie.

February is for curmudgeons, whinge-bags, and misanthropes. You can't begrudge us one month of the year or blame us for being even crabbier, it's so short. There is nothing good about it, which is why it's so great.

As individuals are best off believing they control their behaviour, the judiciary is best off imputing that control - barring powerful extenuating factors such as mental illness.

Tory supporters are not spontaneously ashamed; they have been made to feel ashamed. British leftists fiercely believe they are right - in the sense of correct but also in the sense of just. Conservatives likewise believe they are right-as-in-correct. Yet Tories are less confident about whether their politics are right-as-in-just.

I have buckets of sympathy for the obese, often subject to cruelty, ridicule, denunciation, and contempt.

I owe thanks to a thoughtful, sophisticated readership hungry for challenging subject matter, for honest portrayals of parenthood, and for fiction whose meaning is neither obvious nor morally pat.

Some of the best scenes in drama take almost no time - helping to illustrate that life-changing events in real life often occur in a split second, after which nothing is ever the same.

I do occasionally encounter a British business that delivers what and when, and for exactly the price, they promised. But commercial paragons in the U.K. are rare.

Happiness isn't a position. It's a trajectory.

Set a good example as parents, since the most convincing argument that a girl can become a computer coder is that her mother is one.

Hungry for both fantasy and inspiration, readers crave protagonists who, after overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, triumph at the end of the day.

Conservative supporters might either have the courage of their convictions or, if truly ashamed, revise them, but they should at least refute the proposition that defending your own interests is only acceptable if you're broke.

During the protracted tooth-and-nail tussle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries, I was one of those fierce partisans desperate for the first black candidate with a serious shot at the White House to win the nomination.

As any traveller knows, heading elsewhere is one thing, getting back quite another.

Formal declarations of mistrust, pre-nups are emotionally unfortunate. They overtly plan for failure, and thus involve a jarring cognitive dissonance.

We vainly fancy ourselves above the ugly informing and paranoia of the right-wing McCarthy era, but in the 21st century, the Left has fashioned a mirror image.

However unattractive, pre-nups are at least a way round a law that dictates simply because you love someone and share their bed, that person has a claim on everything you own.

The dumbest childhood vow I ever made was to finish every book I started.

By stereotyping my work's audience as self-involved and prissy, women-only packaging also insults my readers, who could all testify that trussing up my novels as sweet, girly, and soft is like stuffing a Rottweiler in a dress.

I guess I understand a public intellectual to be somebody who moves public discourse forward: someone who either says something new or says something that everybody knows to be true but is afraid to express.

For storytellers, financiers make ideal rogues. The easiest way to make characters unappealing is to make them rich - shorthand for spoiled, picky, superior, and cold-hearted.

In the perfect world, no one would need pre-nups. But all too often, a misty-eyed romancer at the altar transforms into a vengeful, avaricious fiscal predator when the marriage goes south.

In Shaker Heights, Ohio, one of America's first planned communities, order and harmony are prized.

Most books are three-thirds rubbish.

Novelists are too often assumed to write veiled autobiography.

Trump is not charismatic. He is artless and politically clumsy and wears his egotism on his sleeve.

For the left-leaning, political identity is liable to be closely intertwined with personal identity. The left is collusive, if not presumptuous: should you get on well with leftists at a party, they will blithely assume that you share the same views on the invasion of Iraq, even if all you've talked about is the canapes.

A Trump presidency feels as if we've crawled between the covers of a really crummy book.

Awful film adaptations follow novelists for the rest of their lives. An atrocious movie of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' could have stigmatised the book, aggrieved the novel's fans, and blighted my reputation forever.

Edith Wharton was a natural story-teller. As plots do in real life, hers flow directly from character. Her prose is so effortlessly elegant that you're rarely aware as they purl by that the sentences are so pretty. More concerned with what is put than how it is put, she also understood that you only say anything at all when you say it well.

Dieting is odious and can require years of determination and sacrifice. I entirely understand the impulse to say, 'Screw it,' and have another piece of cake.

The sign that I don't like the book I'm reading is finding myself watching reruns of 'Come Dine With Me.'

I was terrified of growing up to become the anti-me, maturing into a woman whom I would not recognise and who wouldn't recognise her younger self.

When Truman Capote wrote from the perspective of condemned murderers from a lower economic class than his own, he had some gall. But writing fiction takes gall.

Few Amazon punters will explore a book with the depth of an 800-word review.

As a child, I was always a sucker for anything in miniature, and it didn't have to be a dress: a desk, a Matchbox truck. Perhaps a childhood attraction to shrunken but compellingly realistic facsimiles is commonplace, if only because children themselves are compellingly realistic facsimiles of the giants who rule their world.

Laws to protect 'public health' are potentially infinite, especially once they no longer have to be supported by any research whatsoever.

Oddly, for a book to do well merely because people like it is surprisingly rare.

Expectations are dangerous when they are both too high and unformed.

Weight having become politicised, anyone with a profile in the media who either subscribes to or departs from the template of tininess implicitly represents a constituency, whether they want to or not.

Writers who take on polarising issues are apt to step on a few toes.

Trump can't string a single grammatical sentence together, and at the podium, he is lumpen and awkward.

I'm sometimes asked if I get bored with talking about 'Kevin,' and of course, the short answer is yes. Nevertheless, after a long slog in the literary trenches, I never take a single reader for granted and always remind myself that for new readers the unfolding story is fresh.

I am bowled over by the massive number of remarkable people who face down the fact that no, they are not going to be film directors, famous artists, or billionaire entrepreneurs and still come out the other side as cheerful, decent, gracious human beings.

The financial industry may not be synonymous with economics, but it does control a large enough sector of the global economy to sink us all, as was unnervingly demonstrated in 2008.

Ultimately, Hillary and Obama are on the same side.

I might defend the reviewing trade, but a handful of haughty hired hands no longer having the last word on books is not a bad thing.

As a woman, I'd be uneasy about being given the power to determine what is insulting to women in general.

Reality doesn't have to be plausible. Reality can be as preposterous as it pleases.