1. The subject matter of Is There Anything You Want is quite delicate, yet you handle it very sensitively. How did you achieve this?
I suppose by trying to approach it obliquely – not too head on – and by concentrating on thoughts and emotions rather than physical detail. It isn’t the illness which interests me so much as the effect of coping with it. I’ve been in touch with quite a lot of that, and observed different reactions.
2. What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
None. It all comes from listening and watching and speculating.
3. How do you think of characters for your novels? Do you base them on people you know or have met?
The characters just happen, often I wish I’d planned them, or chose different ones – it would make for a better novel.
4. In Is There Anything You Want? you convincingly write from the point of view of both male and female characters. Did you find this challenging?
Yes, of course. Trying to imagine myself into other people’s heads is what fiction is about – it’s the challenge that appeals.
5. How do you decide on the title of a novel?
In the case of this one, from the Raymond Carver verse at the front. Often I decide quite late, after I’ve finished it, but this one came at the beginning.
6. What is your favourite of all the books you have written and why?
Have the Men Had Enough? Is the novel, because I wrote it with a real passion. There was a point to it and it came nearest to succeeding. Daphne du Maurier is my favourite biography.
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