I enjoy research; in fact research is so engaging that it would be easy to go on for years, and never write the novel at all.
Writing poetry makes you intensely conscious of how words sound, both aloud and inside the head of the reader. You learn the weight of words and how they sound to the ear.
However, the difficulties and pleasures of the writing itself are similar for a novel with a historical setting and a novel with a contemporary setting, as far as I’m concerned.
It is a violation which has obsessed the tyrants of the twentieth century. They do not want simply to kill their opponents, but to liquidate them, to deny that they have ever existed.
I have learned so much from working with other poets, travelling and reading with them, spending days discussing poems in progress. There is the sense that we are all, as writers, part of something which is more powerful than any of us.
Poets go through a very tough apprenticeship in the use of words.
Mourning Ruby is not a flat landscape: it is more like a box with pictures painted on every face. And each face is also a door which opens, I hope, to take the reader deep into the book.
However, I began to submit poems to British magazines, and some were accepted. It was a great moment to see my first poems published. It felt like entering a tradition.
Children will not pretend to be enjoying books, and they will not read books because they have been told that these books are good. They are looking for delight.
If we understand the past, we are more likely to recognise what is happening around us.