[This interview was conducted, the fax says, 21 Sep 2000 at 10:05.]
TL: In Curriculum Vitae you say, ‘It seemed to me that the Comforters of Job were not at all distinct characters; they were very much of one type. They were, in fact, like modern interrogators who come to interview and mock the victim in shifts.’ Do you enjoy doing interviews?
MS: Interviews can be stimulating. It depends on the intelligence of the interviewer.
TL At a rough guess, how many inteviews have you been subjected to in your life?
MS: About five a year.
TL: Of these interviews, were any particularly memorable? For what reason?
MS: Frank Kermode interviewed me in my early days. It is an oft-quoted classic interview.
TL: What is the question that you are most commonly asked, during interviews?
MS: Do I write by hand?
TL: Is there any questions that you wish you were asked more often, in interview?
TL: Answer the above question as if I had put it to you as part of this interview.
TL: No idea.
TL: Have you yourself ever interviewed anyone particularly memorable? Who? Where? Why?
MS: Masefield (see my introduction to the revised edition).
TL: Given a choice, which person – living, dead, divine, mythical, semi-mythical, or fictional – would you choose to interview? Why? What would you ask them? Where would this interview take place?
MS: M. Heger, Charlotte Brontë’s master at Brussels. I would ask did he encourage her as a lover.
TL: Have you ever read or studied interviews with other writers? I’m thinking, in particular, of the Paris Review series.
MS: Yes. The Paris Review is good. I’ve had two PR interviews, neither of which has surfaced.
TL: Your latest novel, Aiding and Abetting, is centred around an interview of sorts – a psychoanalytic session. Do you believe in ‘the talking cure’?
MS: Never heard of it before. Psychiatrists are mostly fake, but they obtain results merely by being consulted.
TL: Do you ever feel that during an interview you have been prompted to come up with a new idea – an idea that has subsequently contributed to the writing of fiction?
MS: Yes, but I don’t recall any specific occasion.
TL: How do you usually feel, and what do you usually do, after you have finished an interview?
MS: Take a rest and think over what the conversation was about.