One time, two years ago, I took a draught of morphia, meaning to end my life. My mother found me before the life was ended, the doctor drew the poison from my stomach with a syringe, and when I woke, it was to the sound of my own weeping. For I had hoped to open my eyes on Heaven, where my father was; and they had only pulled me back to Hell.
My story is the story of many postwar British families. Upward mobility. A council house and then new affluence.
I was encouraged to be imaginative and read, and it was a great childhood for a budding writer because I had the time and the freedom to go into a world of my own.
When theatre works, it's like nothing else, and when it doesn't, which is often, it's excruciating. It's perhaps not so excruciating when a novel goes wrong, but there is a kind of magic that can and should happen.
I've ended up feeling fonder of 'The Paying Guests' than of any of my other novels.
My parents were the first in our family to go to grammar school. My grandparents were in service.
I've never managed to get very far with Henry James.
The early '20s were like the waist of an hourglass. Lots of things were hurtling toward it and squeezing through it and then hurtling out the other side.
I love research. Sometimes I think writing novels is just an excuse to allow myself this leisurely time of getting to know a period and reading its books and watching its films. I see it as a real treat.
My nan was a nursery maid. Most people weren't in big houses. They were maids of all work.
Ours is a world which feels so unsettled and dangerous in large ways, whether it's terrorism or global financial meltdown or climate change - huge things that affect us deeply, and yet things about which we can do, individually, very little.
I knew I'd always be a second-rate academic, and I thought, 'Well, I'd rather be a second-rate novelist or even a third-rate one'.
Sometimes I think I'd be perfectly happy to go on rewriting 'Tipping the Velvet' forever because it was so much fun.