Adam and Eve are like imaginary numbers, like the square root of minus one... If you include it in your equation, you can calculate all manners of things, which cannot be imagined without it.
And before I'd got to the end of the first paragraph, I'd come up slap bang against a fundamental problem that still troubles me today whenever I begin a story, and it's this: where am I telling it from?
Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.
It takes long practice, yes. You have to work. Did you think you could snap your fingers, and have it as a gift? What is worth having is worth working for.
Being in love was like China: you knew it was there, and no doubt it was very interesting, and some people went there, but I never would. I'd spend all my life without ever going to China, but it wouldn't matter, because there was all the rest of the world to visit.
If we all gave all our goods to the poor, the church would fall apart. If we all hated our father and mother, as Jesus told us to, there'd be an end of the church's emphasis on the family as being the one important thing holding the whole society together. There are all sorts of ways in which the church's teachings contradict directly what Jesus says in the Gospel.
I have stolen ideas from every book I have ever read.
Just finished 'Secrecy' - truly enthralling both as a love story and as a tale of suspense - but much more than both.
I don't see any sign of God in this world, in the place where we live and things we know. It can all be explained to my mind perfectly satisfactorily without God. But in the great darkness beyond this little spark of light where I live, of course there may be all kinds of things. There may be a god. So I'm really an agnostic.
I have maintained a passionate interest in education, which leads me occasionally to make foolish and ill-considered remarks alleging that not everything is well in our schools. My main concern is that an over-emphasis on testing and league tables has led to a lack of time and freedom for a true, imaginative and humane engagement with literature.
This is the value for me of writing books that children read. Children aren't interested in your appalling self-consciousness. They want to know what happens next. They force you to tell a story.
All stories teach, whether the storyteller intends them to or not. They teach the world we create. They teach the morality we live by. They teach it much more effectively than moral precepts and instructions.
The way you speak of the characters in your story shows what you think of the values of conservatives"š or evolution, for example. It shows where your moral center is. So you are in the message business whether you like it or not.
I had passed through the entire British education system studying literature, culminating in three years of reading English at Oxford, and they'd never told me about something as basic as the importance of point of view in fiction!
The best way to get kids to read a book is to say: 'This book is not appropriate for your age, and it has all sorts of horrible things in it like sex and death and some really big and complicated ideas, and you're better off not touching it until you're all grown up. I'm going to put it on this shelf and leave the room for a while. Don't open it.
If you want something you can have it, but only if you want everything that goes with it, including all the hard work and the despair, and only if you're willing to risk failure.
We don't need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do's and don'ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.
I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are.
You cannot change what you are, only what you do.
One curious thing about growing up is that you don't only move forward in time; you move backwards as well, as pieces of your parents' and grandparents' lives come to you.
We feel cold, but we don't mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn't feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It's worth being cold for that.
True education flowers at the point when delight falls in love with responsibility.
Maybe sometimes we don't do the right thing because the wrong thing looks more dangerous, and we don't want to look scared, so we go and do the wrong thing just because it's dangerous. We're more concerned with not looking scared than with judging right.
I don't know where my ideas come from, but I know where they come to. They come to my desk, and if I'm not there, they go away again.
As Jane Austen might have put it: It is a truth universally acknowledged that young protagonists in search of adventure must ditch their parents.
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
Well, I have an idea, usually a visual image of some sort. A setting. A particular, I don't know, urban scene, a particular time of day. Something that grips my imagination for some reason.
Even if it means oblivion, friends, I'll welcome it, because it won't be nothing. We'll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass, and a million leaves; we'll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze; we'll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world, which is our true home and always was.
All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don't get plumber's block, and doctors don't get doctor's block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?
One of the ways in which writers most show their inventiveness is in the things they tell us about how they write. Generally speaking, I don't like to make a plan before I've written a story. I find it kills the story - deadens it, makes it uninteresting. Unless I'm surprised by something in a story, the reader's not going to be surprised either.
I'm for open-mindedness and tolerance. I'm against any form of fanaticism, fundamentalism or zealotry, and this certainty of 'We have the truth.' The truth is far too large and complex. Nobody has the truth.
If a coin comes down heads, that means that the possibility of its coming down tails has collapsed. Until that moment the two possibilities were equal. But on another world, it does come down tails. And when that happens, the two worlds split apart.
The e-book revolution has made it very easy to pay writers a good deal less than what their work is worth. I do strongly believe that we writers ought to hold out for much better royalties.
I write almost always in the third person, and I don't think the narrator is male or female anyway. They're both, and young and old, and wise and silly, and sceptical and credulous, and innocent and experienced, all at once. Narrators are not even human - they're sprites.
I am a strong believer in the tyranny, the dictatorship, the absolute authority of the writer.
I think it's perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don't know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away. Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it's because he's ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they're responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I'd want nothing to do with them.
I'm superstitious about the paper that I use, for example. I've written all my novels on a paper of a particular size with lines of a particular distance apart and with two holes in the paper for the folder clip.
That's the duty of the old, to be anxious on behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.
You don't win races by wishing, you win them by running faster than everyone else does.
The state of mind which I put myself when I tell a story is one in which superstition flourishes very easily. And I welcome that because it helps me.