I've read plenty of J.G. Ballard, but I'm not really a Ballardian. I've met Ballardians, and I know when I can't compete. I like Ballard in his relatively unchallenging apocalyptic mode: 'Vermilion Sands,' 'The Drowned World,' 'The Burning World,' 'The Crystal World.'
Growing up in the '70s and '80s, science fiction and especially fantasy had such a stigma attached to them. I felt so punished and exiled for being devoted to these things.
I got my first whiff of what big-time adult literature was all about when I was in 8th grade. I got it from Mark Linn-Baker. You know - the guy from 'Perfect Strangers.'
It's no longer possible to simply build English country houses out of words, because they've already been so thoroughly described that all the applicable words have been used up, and one is forced to build them instead out of words recycled and scavenged from other descriptions of other country houses.
I've drunk Amazon's free Diet Coke. Nothing makes more sense to me than a company trying to make bookselling into a profitable business. I'm not anti-Amazon, and I'm not pro-publishers either. I'm pro-books.
I love rare books. Not that I own a lot of them, mind you. You couldn't quite call me a rare-book collector. But I did once work in a rare-books library, and I wrote a novel about a rare book.
I started thinking about the endings of novels not because I think endings are so important, but because I think they're actually not as important as they're sometimes given credit for.
How often have I met and disliked writers whose books I love; and conversely, hated the books and then wound up liking the writer? Too often.
When it comes to true humility in the face of history, nothing beats complete silence.
I'm not a Dickens guy. In grad school I had to take at least one course on the Victorians, so I took The Later Dickens, because that was what there was.
It seems to me that the novel as a medium has a very low signal-to-noise ratio. By which I mean: there are a lot of novels published, but the vast majority of them don't represent major contributions to the medium.
The year after I graduated college I had a job in a library. When people underlined passages in the library books, or made notes in the margins, the books were sent to me. I erased the lines and the notes. Yes, that was my job.
More than fantasy or even science fiction, Ray Bradbury wrote horror, and like so many great horror writers he was himself utterly without fear, of anything. He wasn't afraid of looking uncool - he wasn't scared to openly love innocence, or to be optimistic, or to write sentimentally when he felt that way.
Which is the healthier kind of literary diversity: an un-gate-kept self-published book world, run substantially through Amazon? Or our current book world, which is part-gate-kept, part-not, with many different publishers and retailers and platforms? I'm not smart enough to figure it out, but if I had to guess I'd guess the latter.
My specialty as a collector is books that almost have value. When I love a book, I don't buy the first edition, because those have become incredibly expensive. But I might buy a beat-up copy of the second edition, third printing, which looks almost exactly the same as the first edition except that a couple of typos have been fixed.
When I left college I thought - based on a staggeringly inadequate understanding of how the world worked - that I might like to go into book publishing.
What surprised me about 'The Casual Vacancy' was not just how good it was, but the particular way in which it was good.
A lot of young-adult authors, great ones, have tried their hands at literary fiction, and not a lot of them have succeeded. Not even Roald Dahl could switch-hit, and not for lack of trying.
It's not really possible to open 'The Casual Vacancy' without a lot of expectations both high and low crashing around in your brain and distorting your vision. There's no point pretending they're not there.
Hating a book is not unlike hating a person; in fact it's tempting to just go ahead and hate the author personally, by proxy, qua human being, except that I know that would be a mistake.
When I got to college I simply decided that I could speak French, because I just could not spend any more time in French classes. I went ahead and took courses on French literature, some of them even taught in French.
I ought to at least be able to read literature in French. I went to an enlightened grade school that started us on French in fifth grade, which meant that by the time I graduated high school I had been at it for eight years.
Even though I have spent literally years of my life trying to learn another language, any other language - and even though I have in the past claimed in several key professional contexts that I speak other languages - I am in fact still trapped inside the bubble of English.
There is really no end to life's little humiliations.
It's time to live with what we have and mourn what we lost.
That was the thing about the world: it wasn't that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn't expect.
Magic is wild, dangerous stuff. You never realize how useful limitations are until it's much too late.
You're all so obsessed with other worlds, you're so convinced that this one is crap and everywhere else is great, but you've never bothered to figure out what's going on here!
Don't take anyone's writing advice too seriously.
It didn't matter where you were, if you were in a room full of books you were at least halfway home.
I love playing with the conventions of fantasy, and breaking rules, and crossing lines.
The process of learning is a nonstop orgy of wonderment.
You don't learn about yourself by being alone, you learn about yourself from other people.
I'm a fantasy writer. I don't do SF. This is important to me. If you're not clear on what genre you're in, everything gets muddled, and it's hard to know which rules you're breaking.
You didn't get the quest you wanted, you got the one you could do.
If there's a single lesson that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so.
I loved fantasy, but I particularly loved the stories in which somebody got out of where they were and into somewhere better - as in the Chronicles Of Narnia, The Wizard Of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.
He who completes a quest does not merely find something. He becomes something.
The main advantage of being a reviewer is that you read a lot. A lot of books get sent to you, and you have an amazing vantage point from which to observe what's going on in contemporary fiction - not only genre stuff, the whole spectrum.
The danger would be going back, or staying still. The only way out was through. The past was ruins, but the present was still in play.