I remember, as a child, a particular groan that my father would sound when he crawled from the bed in the morning. I hear the same groan now, precisely, every morning, when I emerge from my own lair. It's more than an expression of physical weariness - it's an aching of the soul. Even the groans get passed down.
In the early nineties, I was a cub reporter on a city newspaper in Limerick, and assigned to the courthouse there. One day, an old detective sergeant came and whispered to me in the press pit. He pointed out a young offender, a teenager who was up for stealing a car or something relatively minor, and said, 'See this kid? He'll kill.'
At one point I would read nothing that was not by the great American Jews - Saul Bellow, Philip Roth - which had a disastrous effect of making me think I needed to write the next great Jewish American novel. As a ginger-haired child in the West of Ireland, that didn't work out very well, as you can imagine.