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I used to have quite long hair, and I decided that I wanted to get it cut. I'd never met the person who did it, and she cut it into some kind of dreadful mullet. It looked like a triangle on my head. The other kids were merciless.
As a child I was really into fantasy books with elves and goblins and swords, and I went through a phase for a few years when I was reading endless series. But in the end I became totally fed-up with all these sub-Tolkien rip-offs because they all end up doing the same old things and there's no rigour to it.
I like to have my characters talking in an up-to-date way, and I like their essentially modern self-awareness, which means we can have lots of irony and jokes.
I read a bit of the Icelandic sagas. They're fascinating in that they are completely ordinary. The farmer will go off into the hills and fight a troll, and then go back and do ordinary things. It's an odd mix of fantasy and reality.
I got fairly good grades, but I was bad at woodwork. They said I tried hard, but the result was hopeless.
As an author, you need to keep talking to your audience to remind yourself what they like and what they don't like. You spend most of your life locked in a room, and you need to be social occasionally.
The important thing about any book is that you have to have a good story and that it has to be exciting. Then it's nice to add other levels underneath that people can pick up on.
When I was young, I kept a diary for about 10 years and I had to write in it every day. Even on days when nothing seemed to happen, I made myself think of something to put in it.
Most traditional ghost stories feature rather hapless protagonists, who have nasty things happen to them.
I like using traditional beliefs in my fantasies, even though I always end up warping them to suit my purpose: it somehow makes everything feel more 'solid' if it's got a long history behind it.
When I think about my ideal free day, it usually involves going into London and sitting in a nice coffeehouse with cake and coffee, but I would probably still have my notebook in my pocket.
I had a big fight in my first week in secondary school. There was a kid in the year above who was nasty to me, and we ended up having a scrap. I can remember thinking that there was going to be some serious bloodshed if we didn't stop, so I made a decision to walk away. It was a difficult thing to do, but the most sensible.
When I write something that would have made me laugh as a 10-year-old, or would have scared me or would have excited me, I know I'm onto something.
We grow up being told about great figures in our society, and as you get older you have to question the stories you've been told and decide if these great figures are indeed as great as you've been told.
My wife gave me a year to start making money out of writing, and after six months, I'd made not a bean. Suddenly, the books took off, and the beans started coming in!
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Henry David Thoreau
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