Religious speech is extreme, emotional, and motivational. It is anti-literal, relying on metaphor, allusion, and other rhetorical devices, and it assumes knowledge within a community of believers.
I found 'The Twin' sitting on a coffee table at a writers' colony in 2009. It carried praise from J.M. Coetzee. That seemed ample justification for using it to avoid my own writing. I finished it - weeping - a day later, and I've been puzzling over its powerful hold on me ever since.
History is the history of human behavior, and human behavior is the raw material of fiction. Most people recognize that novelists do research to get the facts right - how a glove factory works, for example, or how courtesans in imperial Japan dressed.
Work less than you think you should. It took me a while to realise there was a point each day when my creativity ran out and I was just producing words - usually lousy ones - for their own sake. And nap: it helps to refresh the brain, at least mine.
Fiction just has a lot more room for ambivalence and internal conflict, contradiction, and for me that sums up so much of what people felt after 9/11 - confusion even. And I think that's hard to capture in journalism.
I read Claire Messud's 'The Emperor's Children,' I read Joseph O'Neill's 'Netherland' - but to me, they're not 9/11 novels. In 'The Emperor's Children,' 9/11 felt to me like a piece of the plot; the novel wasn't wrestling with what 9/11 meant. And 'Netherland' felt the same way. I liked both books a lot but I don't see them as 9/11 novels.
I think in the wake of 9/11, like a lot of Americans, you know, we were all very traumatized by the attacks, traumatized in a totally different way by some of what happened afterward in response. And I think there have been these questions hovering in the past decade of, what kind of country are we? Who are we?