For ten years, I went to piano lessons. I don't think I'm a very musical person, and the theory quite defeated me, but I had a freak aptitude for Debussy and Ravel.
Sundays in my teens were spent on homework: from 8 am until at least 8 pm, with stoppages to be fed and watered. I was carrying up to ten subjects simultaneously.
At the age of nine, I could cross the length of Glasgow on a succession of buses, wearing regulation garter-topped stockings and compulsory cap and - if I'd done well enough to earn the honour in last week's test - with a First World War medal on a striped ribbon pinned to my brown blazer. I must have looked like a chocolate soldier.
Titles either come to you at the beginning or they don't come to you at all, I find, and I hate the feeling that I haven't got a title because it usually means that you are left at the end scrambling around trying to find something.
I think, when you are writing non-fiction, you feel there's an obligation to get it absolutely right, so all your factual details have to be, have, you know, to go through a long list of them and tick them. I'm not saying that's not important in fiction, but I think you have a bit more leeway; you can suit yourself.
Let's say I find a lot of current American fiction too overwritten for my tastes, too self-conscious; I like something that's simpler and more direct. The story is what matters to me. I hope to make it seem real to readers, as if it happened just like this - so I don't want fancy descriptions getting in the way.
A writer's life suits me. It's fairly, well, other people might think it was actually rather dull, but that's fine because I feel that my imagination is enough to kind of keep me happy.
The funny thing about writing is, although you are writing about an experience which only you have had, you are trying to welcome other people into it, and there are ways I think of doing this, and one of them is through the senses, through the sounds and the smells.
We become attached to certain characters in novels, mostly because they have some mystery attaching to them. We re-read the books, but we're still left wanting to know more. In my own case, it was 'Great Expectations' and Miss Havisham in particular. Luckily, writers have the option of making up the knowledge that reading doesn't supply.
I can remember in my early days of writing going to sort of writers' functions and parties and things like that, and I used to get very irritated because when people heard that you came from the suburbs, they had this notion that it was very un-cool to come from there.
I can remember somebody once saying to me that they thought my life must be less real than these other people that they were writing about, which I found a very peculiar thing 'cos all our lives are equally real, and it's just a matter of depicting them and talking about them.
As a little boy, I apparently had a predilection for undoing latch gates, running up pathways and ringing doorbells - and then running off again and away before the door was opened behind me.
'Ghost City' began as a idea. I felt that I hadn't read or heard a great deal about the sort of life that I thought I had, and I just thought that it would be interesting to sit down and see if I could put it down onto paper.
I think if you study people in the street today, you do sometimes feel that they have taken their behavior and their language from things that they have seen rather than read - from soap operas and movies and so on.
I'm here to get the story on to the page. It would be good to catch your attention, and I have to make you want to read on, and I suppose I prefer you don't actually think about the 'how' at all - the writing technique, the 'style', or even who it is that's putting this together.
Originally I wanted somewhere to set my short stories about the sort of people I recognise having grown up with. Carnbeg was staring me in the face all the time, only I had somehow failed to see that. Not seeing the wood for the trees, I suppose.
'Ghost City' was actually one of the few instances of non-fiction that I had written, and I felt that I probably said what I wanted. I think it must be different for every author; I haven't done very much of it, and perhaps, in a way, I found it rather painful, which is why I don't really do it very often.
Some people say that you should read people who think completely differently from you so that everything you read and everything that they say is a challenge to you but there's something to be said for reading people where you think, 'Yes, that's how I would have said it if I could have found the words for it'.
What appears on the page comes out of your experience, and no-one is going to see it in quite the same way - so, that being so, you're already doing something in a thoroughly individual and idiosyncratic way anyway.
When I was younger, when I was at school, I did read a lot of fiction. I think as you get older perhaps you're interested in essays and biographies and things like that. I think it's just important to just read as much as you can.