I wear a taint of rationing, that's all. I have the thready, ashamed look of a reduced person who assumes there is a worse reduction to come.
I got interested in the idea that love is often used as a kind of blanket explanation for things. I mean, battered wives, for instance: Why did you go back to him? Oh, I loved him. Why did you embezzle fifteen million pounds and run away to the other side of the world? Oh, well, because I was in love. All that and then you don't ask anything else. I thought if I just say, these people needed love and they found it, then it kind of explained it away. I wanted to look at their behaviour and how love can inspire the best and the very worst in human behaviour but love itself is not behaviour. So I avoided the word 'love' until the very end and it's the last word in the novel. I wanted to explore what people will do when they're in such terrible need of love. If there was a big idea then that was it. Then, of course, I hope that if it's a story worth reading it's the characters themselves who make you want to read it, not the big idea. I don't think a big idea drives a novel usually. Something else has to engage you on a much more kind of personal level.
My father was a psychiatrist, the medical director of a mental hospital in Scotland, and when I was a student, I took vacation jobs there as a nursing assistant. So I did get to see mental illness, but I don't remember conversations about mental conditions. My father was a cheerful man with a robust attitude to such things.