Mark Haddon

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  • Born: October 28, 1962
  • Nationality: English
  • Profession: Novelist

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A lot of roles for people with disabilities are quite patronising. It's a real pity when they are just used to give dull PC kudos to a drama, or when they're wheeled on in a tokenistic way without any real involvement in the plot.
Appalling things can happen to children. And even a happy childhood is filled with sadnesses.
As a kid, I didn't read a great deal of fiction, and I've forgotten most of what I did read.
As a teenager, I was always this strange mixture of kind of vice-captain of the rugby team and sensitive artist type the rest of the time. I was sent away to this public school in the middle of nowhere, and I think we managed to completely miss out on normal youth culture. Time
As to the number of novels I've abandoned... I shudder to think. I have thrown away five completed novels, and that's a gruesome enough figure. But not necessarily a waste of effort.
At 20, 25, 30, we begin to realise that the possibilities of escape are getting fewer. We have jobs, children, partners, debts. This is the part of us to which literary fiction speaks.
B is for bestseller.
Bore children, and they stop reading. There's no room for self-indulgence or showing off or setting the scene.
Children simply don't make the distinction; a book is either good or bad. And some of the books they think are good are very, very bad indeed.
Every life is narrow. Our only escape is not to run away, but to learn to love the people we are and the world in which we find ourselves. Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Fiction that responds to recent world events is a hostage to fortune, because all momentous events look very different a year, two years, three years later.
For me, disability is a way of getting some extremity, some kind of very difficult situation, that throws an interesting light on people.
From a good book, I want to be taken to the very edge. I want a glimpse into that outer darkness.
Humour and high seriousness... Perfect bedfellows, I think. Though I usually phrase it in terms of comedy and darkness. Comedy without darkness rapidly becomes trivial. And darkness without comedy rapidly becomes unbearable.
I always thought I'd eventually learn how to draw really well, and despite constant evidence to the contrary, I just kept on trying. If you're too good at anything, you don't have to think about the process, whereas I feel like I spend my life with my head under the bonnet, trying to understand how everything works. Life
I am atheist in a very religious mould. I'm always asking myself the big questions. Where did we come from? Is there a meaning to all of this? When I find myself in church, I edit the hymns as I sing them.
I am quite amazed how, when people earn lots of money, they think they have to spend it on things that give them access to the club constituted by the people who are in their tax bracket. Money, Coins & Minting
I am really interested in eccentric minds. It's rather like being fascinated by how cars work. It's really boring if your car works all the time. But as soon as something happens, you get the bonnet up. If someone has an abnormal or dysfunctional state of mind, you get the bonnet up. Time ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I better make the plot good. I wanted to make it grip people on the first page and have a big turning point in the middle, as there is, and construct the whole thing like a roller coaster ride.
I don't mean that literary fiction is better than genre fiction, On the contrary; novels can perform two functions and most perform only one.
I don't remember deciding to become a writer. You decide to become a dentist or a postman. For me, writing is like being gay. You finally admit that this is who you are, you come out and hope that no one runs away. Hope
I have very fond memories of swimming in Walden Pond when we lived in Boston. You'd swim past a log and see all these turtles sunning themselves. Slightly disturbing if you thought about how many more were swimming around your toes, but also rather wonderful.
I knew there was a story; once you find a dog with a fork through it, you know there's a story there.
I like having my back pressed against a wall and being made to work harder so I don't embarrass myself. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I like poetry when I don't quite understand why I like it. Poetry isn't just a question of wrapping something up and giving it to someone else to unwrap. It just doesn't work like that. Literature, Writers & Writing ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I read very, very little fiction as a kid. All the books I can remember are junior science books. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I really like the idea of being a bit unpredictable. I'm known for being a nice, easy-going person with a straightforward exterior. So I think a bit of me wants to be sort of sly and devious.
I started writing books for children because I could illustrate them myself and because, in my innocence, I thought they'd be easier.
I suffer depression only in the sense that I am a writer. We don't have proper jobs to go to. We are on our own all day. Show me a writer who doesn't get depressed: who has a completely stable mood. They'd be a garage mechanic or something.
I think Britain has this tradition which suggests that if you make the readers laugh too much, you can't really be serious. Whereas, I think one of the functions laughter can perform in a book, as in life, is that it's a reaction to genuine horror. Life
I think good books have to make a few people angry.
I think I've learnt that there is no character so strange that you haven't shared their experience in some small way.
I think most writers feel like they're on the outside looking in much of the time. All of us feel, to a certain extent, alienated from the stuff going on around us. Time
I think one of the things you have to learn if you're going to create believable characters is never to make generalizations about groups of people.
I think the U.K. is too small to write about from within it and still make it seem foreign and exotic and interesting.
I thought Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' was remarkable. Managing to be entertaining while still delivering all that hard science was a pretty good trick to pull off. History ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I was born too late for steam trains and a lazy eye meant I'd never be an astronaut.
I went to boarding school, and then I went to Oxford, and I know how easy it is for certain groups of people to become wholly insulated from ordinary life. Life
If kids like a picture book, they're going to read it at least 50 times, and their parents are going to have to read it with them. Read anything that often, and even minor imperfections start to feel like gravel in the bed.
If kids like a picture book, they're going to read it at least 50 times. Read anything that often, and even minor imperfections start to feel like gravel in the bed.
If one book's done this well, you want to write another one that does just as well. There's that horror of the second novel that doesn't match up.
If you came from Mars and tried to analyse British or American society through novels, you'd think our society was preponderantly full of middle-aged, slightly alcoholic, middle-class, intellectual men, most of whom are divorced from their families and have nothing to do with children. Society
If you enjoy math and you write novels, it's very rare that you'll get a chance to put your math into a novel. I leapt at the chance.
If you're trying to be a successful writer, and you go into a second-hand bookshop, it's the graveyard of people whose books haven't been wanted.
I'm a writer! If you work in an office, it dampens you. It makes you fit a routine. The effect of being a writer is not dissimilar to being long-term unemployed. And everyone knows that is not good for you. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I'm really interested in the extraordinary found in the normal. Hopefully, my books don't take you to an entirely different place but make you look at things around you.
I'm really lucky in that I can do lots of different things. It must be really hard to just be a poet or just be a novelist - a constant cycle of effort and exhaustion and recuperation.
Indeed, I am repeatedly astonished by the number of really good writers who understand human beings so well on paper but don't know how to deal with them in real life. Life
It took me a long time to come out as someone who doesn't like film. It's a bit like when people say they don't like books: you get that sharp intake of breath. Time
I've always really enjoyed writing different things because I get bored very easily.
I've come to realize that most good ideas are precisely the ones you can't describe.
I've worked in television long enough to know that when you stop enjoying that type of thing you go home and do something else.
I've written 16 children's books and five unpublished novels. Some of the latter were breathtakingly bad.
Jane Austen was writing about boring people with desperately limited lives. We forget this because we've seen too many of her books on screen.
Madness doesn't happen to someone alone. Very few people have experiences that are theirs alone.
Many children's writers don't have children of their own.
Most adults, unlike most children, understand the difference between a book that will hold them spellbound for a rainy Sunday afternoon and a book that will put them in touch with a part of themselves they didn't even know existed.
Most of my work consisted of crossing out. Crossing out was the secret of all good writing. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
My best days do seem like a distillation of all that was best about school. Write a story! Paint a picture! Write a poem! Make a print!
My book has a very simple surface, but there are layers of irony and paradox all the way through it.
No one is ever really a stranger. We cling to the belief that we share nothing with certain people. It's rubbish. We have almost everything in common with everyone.
No one wants to know how clever you are. They don't want an insight into your mind, thrilling as it might be. They want an insight into their own.
Obviously I have a capacity for feeling extreme anxiety, and there are people out there who don't. I'm to some extent rather jealous of them.
One of the freedoms you get if you earn a lot of money from a book is to throw away what you want. And if you throw a lot away, the good stuff always comes back; nothing is lost. Money, Coins & Minting
Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.
Science and literature give me answers. And they ask me questions I will never be able to answer. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Show me the artist anywhere who's had an utterly stable mental life, and I'll buy you hot dinners for the rest of your life. Life
Stories about mental aberration and oddity only make sense in context. Just how do people live with someone who is peculiar, gifted, strange or alien? It's odd because there's a little part of me that wants to write about exotic, strange bizarre subjects. Instead, I've rather reluctantly realised that what I write about is families.
That's important to me, to find the extraordinary inside the ordinary.
The main impetus for being a writer is thinking, 'I could invent another world. I'm not terribly keen on this one.'
The most difficult book I wrote was the fourth in a series of linked children's books. It was like pulling teeth because the publisher wanted exactly the same but completely different. I'd much rather just do something completely different, even if there's a risk of it going wrong.
The one thing you have to do if you write a book is put yourself in someone else's shoes. The reader's shoes. You've got to entertain them.
The way of creating believable characters is not by conforming to a set of PC rules.
There was a time in my life when I was going in and out of houses that were extraordinarily different - from a working-class terrace in Northampton to the homes of friends who were really very wealthy. It was quite an odd position to be in, I realise looking back, and quite a nice one. Life ;Time
There's something rather wonderful about the fact that Oxford is a very small city that contains most of the cultural and metropolitan facilities you could want, in terms of bookshops, theatre, cinema, conversation. But it's near enough to London to get here in an hour, and it's near enough to huge open spaces without which I would go insane.
There's something with the physical size of America... American writers can write about America and it can still feel like a foreign country.
Things can be funny when people are uneasy. It softens them up and stops them falling asleep on the sofa. I like those moments where people half-smile and half-wince. Humor
Use your imagination, and you'll see that even the most narrow, humdrum lives are infinite in scope if you examine them with enough care.
What I love about the theatre is that it's always metaphorical. It's like going back to being a kid again, and we're all pretending in a room. Sometimes, when the pretending really works, I find it much, much more moving than something on film. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
When I was 13 or 14, I started devouring novels; literature took quite a while to take me over, but it caught up just in time to save me from becoming a mathematician. Time
When I was writing for children, I was writing genre fiction. It was like making a good chair. However beautiful it looked, it needed four legs of the same length, it had to be the right height and it had to be comfortable.
When I was writing for children, I was writing genre fiction. It was like making a good chair. It needed four legs of the same length, it had to be the right height and it had to be comfortable.
With English literature, if you do a bit of shonky spelling, no one dies, but if you're half-way through a maths calculation and you stick in an extra zero, everything just crashes into the ravine.
Writing for children is bloody difficult; books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts, and they should therefore be accorded the same respect. Respect
You make a film you feel is as real as possible and hope people react as though it were real. Hope
Young readers have to be entertained. No child reads fiction because they think it's going to make them a better person.

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