Biographies are no longer written to explain or explore the greatness of the great. They redress balances, explore secret weaknesses, demolish legends.
Books that change you, even later in life, give you a kind of electrical shock as the world takes a different shape.
I acquired a hunger for fairy tales in the dark days of blackout and blitz in the Second World War.
As a little girl, I didn't like stories about little girls. I liked stories about dragons and beasts and princes and princesses and fear and terror and the Four Musketeers and almost anything other than nice little girls making moral decisions about whether to tell the teacher about what the other little girl did or did not do.
I think that most of the children's writers live in the world that they've created, and their children are kind of phantoms that wander around the edge of it in the world, but actually the children's writers are the children.
I am a profound pessimist both about life and about human relations and about politics and ecology. Humans are inadequate and stupid creatures who sooner or later make a mess, and those who are trying to do good do a lot more damage than those who are muddling along.
We talk about feelings. And about sex. And about bodies, and their gratification, violation, repair, decoration, deferred, maybe permanently deferred, mortality. Feelings are a bodily thing, and respecting them is called, is, kindness.
In my mind's eye, Shakespeare is a huge, hot sea-beast, with fire in his veins and ice on his claws and inscrutable eyes, who looks like an inchoate hump under the encrustations of live barnacle-commentaries, limpets and trailing weeds.
For a long time, I felt instinctively irritated - sometimes repelled - by scientific friends' automatic use of the word 'mechanism' for automatic bodily processes. A machine was man-made; it was not a sentient being; a man was not a machine.
You can understand a lot about yourself by working out which fairytale you use to present your world to yourself in.
I don't like gurus. I don't like people who ask you to follow or believe. I like people who ask you to think independently.
I did a lot of my writing as though I was an academic, doing some piece of research as perfectly as possible.
I think the virtue I prize above all others is curiosity. If you look really hard at almost anybody, and try to see why they're doing what they're doing, taking a dig at them ceases to be what you want to do even if you hate them.