One important theme is the extent to which one can ever correct an error, especially outside any frame of religious forgiveness. All of us have done something we regret - how we manage to remove that from our conscience, or whether that's even possible, interested me.
I always used to deny this, but I guess what I'm really saying is that I was writing to shock... And I dug deep and dredged up all kinds of vile things which fascinated me at the time.
True intelligence requires fabulous imagination.
It's good to get your hands dirty a bit and to test how you see things at a given point. And it's very pleasing after writing something like 'Atonement' or 'On Chesil Beach,' which are historical, to get involved in some plausible re-enactment of the here and now.
Now, I'm an atheist. I really don't believe for a moment that our moral sense comes from a god.
One has to have the courage of one's pessimism.
The end of secrecy would be the end of the novel - especially the English novel. The English novel requires social secrecy, personal secrecy.
Atheists have as much conscience, possibly more, than people with deep religious conviction, and they still have the same problem of how they reconcile themselves to a bad deed in the past. It's a little easier if you've got a god to forgive you.
It is not the first duty of the novelist to provide blueprints for insurrection, or uplifting tales of successful resistance for the benefit of the opposition. The naming of what is there is what is important.
I wouldn't mind being the lead guitarist in an incredibly successful rock band. However, I don't play the guitar.
You can spin stories out of the ways people understand and misunderstand each other.
I think of novels in architectural terms. You have to enter at the gate, and this gate must be constructed in such a way that the reader has immediate confidence in the strength of the building.
It should simply be an empirical matter whether the climate is changing or not and whether we're responsible. But the various sides of the debate have now become so tribal that it's no longer a matter of changing our views as more information comes in.
What I've discovered and really confirmed to myself is that opera really likes loud colours, and you need something bold, something savage, unpredictable, passionate. You can't really run a two-hour opera round some muted murmuring.
Perhaps the greatest reading pleasure has an element of self-annihilation. To be so engrossed that you barely know you exist.
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