Some writers begin with an image, others with a single provocative sentence. In my own case it’s most often an emotion. ‘Shadowlands’ began with the fear of commitment. My work on ‘Gladiator’ began with the need for love to reach beyond death. My new play, ‘Crash’, began with a feeling of bewildered anger. I remember the trigger moment perfectly. It was a headline in the Financial Times of March 21 2009: Anger erupts on both sides of the Atlantic – Mounting fear of talent exodus from big names – Banker fury over tax ‘witch-hunt’. This ‘banker fury’ gave rise to Read More

I strapped the rolled-up tent onto the back of my bicycle. My girlfriend took the two sleeping bags, and the picnic went in her bike basket. The sun was setting. We pedalled off across the Fens to a remote river where, on a recce the previous day, I had found a small tree-covered island reached by a plank bridge. Here on a patch of fern and brambles screened by trees we pitched our tent, and zipped together the two sleeping bags to form one double cocoon. We ate our picnic as night fell, and undressed, and crawled into the nest Read More

It began with a picture in my head, and a puzzle to which I didn’t know the answer. I saw a shadowy reading room with a long table down the centre, and shelves of books covering the walls on either side. A young man, who was perhaps myself when young, was sitting at one end of the table. Before me on the table lay a hand-gun. At the far end sat a second man, slumped forward, dead. I had no idea where I was, or who he was, but it seemed to me that I had shot and killed him. Read More

Find a moment when you and your husband are alone together and ask him a hypothetical question: ‘If you had the chance, and if you were sure no one would ever know, and if you were sure there would be no consequences, would you have sex with another woman?’ ‘Well,’ he’ll say. ‘That’s not a real question. It could never be like that.’ ‘Yes, but if it was?’ ‘Why are you asking me this? What am I supposed to say?’ So he dodges and wriggles, and if you persist in the end he’ll tell you what he knows you want Read More

My first experience of pornography came at the age of nine. As a day boy at a mostly-boarding prep school I was secretly commissioned by a boarder to buy him a copy of the News of the World, so he could look at the semi-naked women. I couldn’t see the point myself. A few years later, now myself at boarding school, I was allowed to look at a friend’s pack of five black-and-white photographs sent in a plain envelope from Amsterdam. I was overwhelmed. Today any teenager can see full-colour full-action hardcore video porn for nothing at any time they Read More