Conflict and character are the heart of good fiction, and good mystery has both of those in spades.
I don’t plot the books out ahead of time, I don’t plan them. I don’t begin at the beginning and end at the end. I don’t work with an outline and I don’t work in a straight line.
I have no objection to well-written romance, but I’d read enough of it to know that that’s not what I had written. I also knew that if it was sold as romance I’d never be reviewed by the ‘New York Times’ or any other literarily respectable newspaper – which is basically true, although the ‘Washington Post’ did get round to me eventually.
I read all the time. People ask, ‘Do you read while you work?’ And I say, ‘I better.’ I take two or three years to finish one of my enormous books, and I can’t go that long without reading.
I work late at night. I’m awake and nobody bothers me. It’s quiet and things come and talk to me in the silence.
People assume that science is a very cold sort of profession, whereas writing novels is a warm and fuzzy intuitive thing. But in fact, they are not at all different.
Well, I can’t remember not being able to read. I was told I could read by myself very well at the age of three.
What underlies great science is what underlies great art, whether it is visual or written, and that is the ability to distinguish patterns out of chaos.
When you’re reading, you’re not where you are; you’re in the book. By the same token, I can write anywhere.