Excerpts from the interviews:
“In both lost boy lost girl and In the Night Room, I started with ideas that seemed promising, fell along traditional lines, and would have been fairly conventional. They would have been third-person novels with ordinary beginnings moving toward extraordinary ends -- extraordinary in the sense of emotional surrealism. Originally in lost boy lost girl I planned to have a teenage boy encounter three women in an abandoned house in his neighborhood -- women you could pretty easily guess were the same woman at various ages -- and the boy would emerge from his encounters with her, sadder and wiser. Then I realized I was bored. I couldn't stand the notion of writing a 'He walked into the room and turned on the light' kind of novel. Although most of the novels I read are exactly of that sort, and I deeply honor the tradition behind that kind of novel writing and imagining, I just couldn't find it in myself to replicate that model again. Something very central had changed in my relationship to the idea of narrative.”
“In the Night Room was a book I had long wished to write -- one I'd started several times and never been able to finish -- in which a woman is in flight from a threatening husband or mate. So I began to write about Willy driving toward the produce warehouse that has the street name from Millhaven, which is the reason she responds in such an occult fashion to the sight of it and imagines she hears her dead daughter's voice. Then I felt I had to include her childhood in an orphanage, but once I started writing it I got bored again. I didn't want to write that book! As I tried to figure out what I could do to save myself from having to throw those pages away, I remembered what I had done in lost boy lost girl: I reached down inside the book and turned it inside out.”
“Just before I began 'The Juniper Tree', I was reading The Lover by Marguerite Duras, which is about a 13-year-old French girl who has an affair with a mature Frenchman in Vietnam. The point of the book is that she has the power in this relationship. For some reason, it struck me that I could write about a small boy being sexually abused in a movie theater and have something of the same power transition between them. After all, the boy was giving satisfaction to the man. Something unspeakable and awful was happening to the boy but also something obscenely, mysteriously arousing. That struck me as an idea really worth writing about.
“It fell perfectly in line with a theory I've held for a long time: "If something embarrasses you and humiliates you, that's what you should write about, because then it could not help but be authentic. You're going to bring whatever resources you have to it. It isn't going to be pretty, but it's going to be the truth.”
“Real fear, constant fear, cripples you. Should you be cursed with it, you hide it from yourself as much as you can. All the time I was a child, I never understood why other people said 'Peter's very nervous.' Me? OK, I stutter, OK, I can't sit still, OK, I can't shut up -- I'd talk whether or not I was talking to somebody else. I needed to fill up the space. All during my early life, it was as though I had a rocket up my ass. I could not sit still, I talked incessantly in class, I had so much energy I tired everybody out. I must have been kind of annoying. Also kind of eerie, because the stuff I was interested in wasn't what interested other kids.”