I've ended up feeling fonder of 'The Paying Guests' than of any of my other novels.
Sometimes I think I'd be perfectly happy to go on rewriting 'Tipping the Velvet' forever because it was so much fun.
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'.
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.
My nan was a nursery maid. Most people weren't in big houses. They were maids of all work.
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.