How do you survive being alone in your work so much of the time?
You are never alone with a novel. The characters become as real to me as real people. But I don't shut myself away, incommunicado. I've got my laptop in front of me and you've just interrupted me in mid-sentence. I'll finish that sentence, but I will never be sure that it's sentence I'd have written if you hadn't phoned at that moment. That is part of the excitement of writing.
What advice would you give to new writers?
When I was young, I was full of good advice. Then after a while I realised I knew nothing. The only bit of advice I would give is: when you finish that first manuscript and send it off to a publisher, start your second immediately. It will be infinitely better and you will have it finished by the time you get a reply about the first.
Is there a secret to writing?
It's just perseverance and hard work. If you've got something to say or a good story to tell then the greatest problem is writing to the end of it. If you can do that, then even if it's not that good you have got something to work at.
I love that first sentence, "You are never alone with a novel"! And I also like that he says frankly it will take as much time to get an answer from a publisher about a book as it will to write the book in the first place!