I don't hang out with the glitteringly successful people; I hang out with people who've been friends for many years, and to some extent I feel my worldly success is a bit uncomfortable for them.
There's something peculiar about writing fiction. It requires an interesting balance between seeing the world as a child and having the wisdom of a middle-aged person. The further you get from childhood and the experience of the teenage years, the greater the danger of losing that wellspring.
We always like to keep our children in a kind of bubble and censor the bad news about the world. We like to tell them the world is full of benevolent, nice people.
I do feel part of that generation of people who were rather idealistic in the '70s and became disillusioned in the '80s. Not just about social services issues, but the world.
I'm always trying to make something that is impossible to film. Why would somebody just read a novel when they can see it on TV or in the cinema? I really have to think of the things fiction can do that film can't and play to the strengths of the novel. With a novel, you can get right inside somebody's head.
This is the big question that we all have about our children: How much, how soon, do we tell our children the less comfortable facts about the world they're going to inherit?
Even though I spent the first five years of my life in Nagasaki, going to Japan can be really difficult. Even if they know I've been brought up in the West, they still expect me to understand all the subtleties of their culture, and if I get it wrong, it matters much more than if a British person gets it wrong. I find it intimidating.
I'm not at all interested in the brave who fight against the odds and win. I am interested in those who accept their lot, as that is what many people in the world are doing. They do their best in ghastly conditions.
Why would somebody just read a novel when they can see it on TV or in the cinema? I really have to think of the things fiction can do that film can't and play to the strengths of the novel. With a novel, you can get right inside somebody's head.
There's something very misleading about the literary culture that looks at writers in their 30s and calls them 'budding' or 'promising', when in fact they're peaking.
When you're lucky enough to have a good film made of your novel - and 'Never Let Me Go' is, believe me, a heartbreakingly good film indeed - you get wonderfully talented individuals each focusing on their special area.
To some extent, at least, you have to shield children from what you know and drip-feed information to them. Sometimes that is kindly meant, and sometimes not.
My wife is the most savage critic. She doesn't feel intimidated by my reputation. As far as she's concerned, she's just criticising a boyfriend who'd recently had a go at fiction. She can tell me to abandon whole novels.
When I write a novel, I want it to be completely different from a screenplay. I'm very conscious of the difference, and I want novels to work purely as novels. Otherwise I don't see how they'll survive - why don't we just all go to the movies or watch television.
And what made these heart-to-hearts possible-you might even say what made the whole friendship possible during that time-was this understanding we had that anything we told each other during these moments would be treated with careful respect: that we'd honor confidences, and that no matter how much we rowed, we wouldn't use against each other anything we'd talked about during those sessions.
Because maybe, in a way, we didn't leave it behind nearly as much as we might once have thought. Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and no matter how much we despised ourselves for it-unable quite to let each other go.
As I say, I have never in all these years thought of the matter in quite this way; but then it is perhaps in the nature of coming away on a trip such as this that one is prompted towards such surprising new perspectives on topics one imagined one had long ago thought throughly.
I think there is a huge difference between writers who have very big sales, and writers who have small sales. Even writers with very high reputations, even Nobel prize winners, often sell in very low figures.
You're always in a rush, or else you're too exhausted to have a proper conversation. Soon enough, the long hours, the traveling, the broken sleep have all crept into your being and become part of you, so everyone can see it, in your posture, your gaze, the way you move and talk.
But then, I suppose, when with the benefit of hindsight one begins to search one's past for such 'turning points', one is apt to start seeing them everywhere.
Everything might scatter. You might be right. I suppose it's something we can't easily get away from. People need to feel they belong. To a nation, to a race. Otherwise, who knows what might happen? This civilisation of ours, perhaps it'll just collapse. And everything scatter, as you put it.
As with a wound on one's own body, it is possible to develop an intimacy with the most disturbing of things
You need to remember that. If you're to have decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you, every one of you.
Don't you wonder sometimes, what might have happened if you tried?
You have to accept that sometimes that's how things happen in this world. People's opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process.
What is pertinent is the calmness of beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.
After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?
I'm interested in memory because it's a filter through which we see our lives, and because it's foggy and obscure, the opportunities for self-deception are there. In the end, as a writer, I'm more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.
"It's hard to appreciate the beauty of a world when one doubts its very validity".But I've long since lost all such doubts, Ono,' he continued. "When I am an old man, when I look back over my life and see I have devoted it to the task of capturing the unique beauty of that world, I believe I will be well satisfied. And no man will make me believe I've wasted my time.
As a writer, I'm more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.
What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one's life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.
Memory, I realize, can be an unreliable thing; often it is heavily coloured by the circumstances in which one remembers.
Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don't go along with that. The memories I value most, I don't ever see them fading.
She always wanted to believe in things.
I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it's just too much. The current's too strong. They've got to let go, drift apart. That's how it is with us. It's a shame, Kath, because we've loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can't stay together forever.
If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.
The book was at a reasonably high position on the New York Times... before I was in the country. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see if my presence here would push it up or down.
The Booker triumph of Graham Swift's moving, effortlessly profound Last Orders is a vindication of the quiet, much-misunderstood path this fine writer chose to take after the brilliance of Waterland more than ten years ago.
Its was one of those events which at a crucial stage in one's development arrive to challenge and stretch one to the limit of one's ability and beyond, so that thereafter one has a new standard by which to judge oneself.
Perhaps one day, all these conflicts will end, and it won't be because of great statesmen or churches or organisations like this one. It'll be because people have changed. They'll be like you, Puffin. More a mixture. So why not become a mongrel? It's healthy.