Storytelling, in print or speech, needs vital energy.

For a startling period of my life, I reported the Troubles in Ireland for the BBC. I lived in Dublin and was called out to all sorts of incidents that, if taken together, add up to a war - bombings, assassinations, riots, shootings, robberies, jailbreaks, kidnappings, and sieges.

To understand and reconnect with our stories, the stories of the ancestors, is to build our identities.

I write - and then I write some more.

First a piece of Irish wisdom: you should always listen to a bookie. For they have a saying, 'Money tells a good story,' and somewhere in their odds is a kind of science-fiction existentialism that decrees that we, the people, know everything. In other words, betting patterns often make for good, unconscious soothsaying.

'The Great Gatsby,' by F. Scott Fitzgerald, remains the most perfect novel that has ever come out of the United States. Everything in the book moves as it should, in the manner of a piece by Bach or Mozart.

I'd have to struggle to find a subject in which I can't get some kind of interested pulse started.

Writers have opinions - that, in part, is why they write. Therefore they have strong likes and dislikes.

If you have a book, you have a friend.

Kitchens are for conversation. They're not just for cooking; they're for conversations.

If you ever want to understand multitasking in prose, James Joyce is your man.

If you need proof of how the oral relates to the written, consider that many great novelists, including Joyce and Hemingway, never submitted a piece of work without reading it aloud.

As an arts journalist in London, working mainly for the BBC, I interviewed hundreds if not thousands of authors. From them I gleaned a great deal of passing instruction in writing and I observed one fascinating detail: no two writers approach their work - physically - in the same way.

We all belong to an ancient identity. Stories are the rivers that take us there.