I couldn't have children, so that's the bad side. But compared to everything else I have, it's not all that terribly bad. I count my winners rather than my losers.

I'm mainly an airport author, and if you're trying to take your mind off the journey, you're not going to read 'King Lear.'

Most people, once the money started getting bigger, thought we would buy a millionaire's house looking out at the sea - but what would two middle-aged people do that for? We were sensible enough when we got it.

I realized that you didn't have to make self-deprecating remarks or turn yourself into the butt of some unspoken joke. I also discovered that being big didn't deter possible suitors.

We are all the heroes and heroines of our own lives. Our love stories are amazingly romantic; our losses and betrayals and disappointments are gigantic in our own minds.

If you don't go to a dance, you can never be rejected, but you'll never get to dance, either.

My brother married young, and his is the best marriage I know.

I once got a huge, expensive flower arrangement from a person I didn't like, who sent it out of pure guilt. It had a hideous bird-of-paradise in the middle, and I thought it would never fade and die. I hated it.

Always write as if you are talking to someone. It works. Don't put on any fancy phrases or accents or things you wouldn't say in real life.

My family life reads a bit like 'Little House on the Prairie.' I was big sister to Joan, Renee, and brother William, and we grew up in Dalkey, a little town 10 miles outside of Dublin. It was a secure, safe and happy childhood, which was meant to be a disadvantage when it comes to writing stories about family dramas.

I think I was dealt a good hand. I have happy genes.

I wore miniskirts in the days when no fat girls should have, and with total delight.

I've seen a lot of people buy my books and then fall asleep on the plane soon afterwards.

My mother was a trained nurse, and she'd tell me that patients would fight as they were administered anaesthetic, grappling to get the gas mask off their face.

I am a big, confident, happy woman who had a loving childhood, a pleasant career, and a wonderful marriage. I feel very lucky.

I suppose, to be fair, I don't miss the energy of youth very much - because I was never fit. So it doesn't matter not being able to walk miles, striding the countryside, taking deep breaths and enjoying the scenery. That was never on my agenda.

There are no makeovers in my books. The ugly duckling does not become a beautiful swan. She becomes a confident duck able to take charge of her own life and problems.

You don't wear all your jewellery at once. You're much more believable if you talk in your own voice.

My memory of my home was that it was very happy, and that there was more fun and life there than there was anywhere else.

We're nothing if we're not loved. When you meet somebody who is more important to you than yourself, that has to be the most important thing.

I never wanted to write. I just wrote letters home from a kibbutz in Israel to reassure my parents that I was still alive and well fed and having a great time. They thought these letters were brilliant and sent them to a newspaper. So I became a writer by accident.

In my books, there is no 'ugly duckling turning into a beautiful swan' syndrome because if you look at the Hansel and Gretel syndrome, it was a mistake. It wasn't a duckling, it was a cygnet, and that's why it turned into a swan. The duckling should with any luck turn into a nice clucking duck and get on with its life. Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!

All I ever wanted to do is to write stories that people will enjoy and feel at home with.

My mother hoped I would meet a nice doctor or barrister or accountant who would marry me and take me to live in what is now called Fashionable Dublin Four. But she felt that this was a vain hope. I was a bit loud to make a nice professional wife, and anyway, I was too keen on spending my holidays in far flung places to meet any of these people.

Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look.

Nobody ever wins by the cavalry coming to rescue you. It isn't a question of you're happy if you get married, or you get thin, or you get rich, because I've known lots of thin, rich, married people who are absolutely miserable.

When my sister Joan arrived, I asked if I could swap her for a rabbit. When I think what a marvellous friend she's been, I'm so glad my parents didn't take me at my word.

I'm an escapist kind of writer.

I was the big, bossy older sister, full of enthusiasms, mad fantasies, desperate urges to be famous, and anxious to be a saint - a settled sort of saint, not one who might have to suffer or die for her faith.

When I was teaching Latin in girls' schools before I became a writer, I didn't much like it if parents would come in and say, 'We'll have less of the Ovid and Virgil and more of the grammar, please.' After all, I was the one in charge. That's how I feel about doctors. You should trust them to do their job properly.

We asked our friends and relations to lend us their children, and, because we lived in London, children loved to come and stay for their half-term holidays.

I think I'm brave because I've made decisions based - I hope not entirely selfishly - on what I think is right for me to do next.

I had a very happy childhood, which is unsuitable if you're going to be an Irish writer.

I'm pleased to have outsold great writers. But I'm not insane - I realize I am a writer people buy to take on vacation.

Everybody is a hero in their own story if you just look.

If I had my life to live all over again, I really think I would have been a fit person. Looking around me, I realise that the men and women who walked and ran and swam and played sport look better and feel better than the rest of us.

My father went to work by train every day. It was half an hour's journey each way, and he would read a paperback in four journeys. After supper, we all sat down to read - it was long before TV, remember!

If you woke up each morning, and immediately dwelt on your ills, what sort of a day could you look forward to?

An English journalist called Michael Viney told me when I was 25, that I would write well if I cared a lot what I was writing about. That worked. I went home that day and wrote about parents not understanding their children as well as we teachers did, and it was published the very next week.

I have been blessed with friends who do things rather than buy things: friends who will change books at the library, take a bag of your old clothes to a thrift store, bring you cuttings and plant them in a window box, fill the bird feeder in your garden when you can't get out.

I think you've got to play the hand that you're dealt and stop wishing for another hand.

I have been lucky enough to travel a lot, meet great people in many lands. I have liked almost everyone I met along the way.

If you're going on a plane journey, you're more likely to take one of my stories than 'Finnegan's Wake.'

I'm a great will maker. I've made my will every year since I was 21.

I do realize that I am a popular writer who people buy to take on vacation. I'm an escapist kind of writer.

I have been luckier than anyone I know or even heard of. I had a very happy childhood, a good education, I enjoyed working as a teacher, journalist and author. I have loved a wonderful man for over 33 years, and I believe he loves me, too.

Women who start out as ugly ducklings don't become beautiful swans. What they mainly become is confident ducks. They take charge of their lives.

I didn't get excited by weight loss, and since I was already happy being fat, I couldn't see the point of it all. I'm 6 ft. and weigh about 18 st. or 19 st., but weighing myself is not something I do with much pleasure.

Success is not like a cake that needs to be divided. It's more like a heap of stones - a cairn. If someone is successful, they add a stone to the cairn. It gets very high and can be seen from all over the world. That's how I see it.