As a novelist, where do you go to tap into memories, and impressions, and sensations? It’s usually, in my experience, your early life, before you started thinking of yourself as a writer, because somehow those experiences are unadulterated.
At a time when there’s younger writers starting up and it’s inevitable that you’re becoming less fashionable, at a time when the industrial pressures apply more and more to books, how do you keep a book you wrote 28 years ago selling well year on year? Because it really is getting harder.
Do we change every time we have a new encounter? Are we endlessly mutable? I think these are fascinating questions: it’s a rich vein to tap, and I don’t think I have exhausted it fully yet.
Even though I’ve been an avid consumer of contemporary music since my early teens, the world of rock music has always been at something of a distance – I listen to it, read about it, I talk about it, but I’ve had little or no contact with its denizens.
Film is a medium of clear lines and broad strikes – which can be fantastic – but compared to the subtleties and nuances of a novel, it doesn’t even get close.
Human beings are interested in the human condition.
I can bore for England on the subject of James Bond. But I knew I couldn’t do it frivolously; I had to take it very seriously, however much fun I was having. And I had to make myself, you know, absolutely steeped in Bond and in Fleming and that world.
I don’t think they’ll ever make a retro Bond.
I have always thought if you are going to make a film, it’s much better to have an original script that will play to film’s strengths.
I have this lock of hair that keeps falling across my forehead. It drives me mad.
I know many older writers who were very successful and whose books are now out of print, so you have to go to antiquarian booksellers to buy their fifth or eighth novel or whatever it is.
I let people off the hook too easily.
I tend to admire dead people more than the living. All too often, human reality diminishes the glowing reputation.
In some ways, you could argue, television is doing far more interesting work than the movies. It’s more fulfilling.
In the broad spectrum of the arts, two worlds rarely overlap – the literary world and the world of rock music.
It’s strange; when I was younger and people would ask, ‘Where are you from?’, I’d say, ‘West Africa’, which was odd because I’m obviously not African, but it was my home.
My novels are often about people who are in love or attracted to each other.
The last thing you know about yourself is your effect.
There is a disconnect between the film Bond and the literary Bond which is their contemporaneity. I don’t suffer from that.
There’s a sense in all my novels that nothing is certain.
To live as an artist requires hard work or some extraordinary good fortune to come your way.
What’s important to me is that all of my books are in print – and, in a way, that becomes the challenge, not winning this prize or getting that review. It’s that the work is there, and you can walk into many bookshops throughout the world and buy it.
When you experience bereavement at a youngish age, you suddenly realise that life is unjust and unfair, that bad things will happen, and you have to take that on board.
With film, you have very limited tools to convey subjectivity – voiceover, the camera’s point of view, good acting – but even the very best actor in the world is crude by comparison with what you can do in a written paragraph.