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‘Publishing was like throwing stones into a swamp'

6 April 2015

‘Publishing was like throwing stones into a swamp - nothing happened. My aim was altered by that experience. I decided that the big thing was not getting published; the great thing would be to satisfy myself. It was the first time I'd found my voice. I found a way of telling a story that involved inhabiting a consciousness that could float free - it's not omniscient, it's a sort of sprite that can hover here and there...

I never thought it (The Ruby in the Smoke) would be any kind of success. I thought it would sell a thousand copies and disappear...

One of the problems I had with fantasy - especially of the Tolkien sort - was that it seemed to say absolutely nothing about what was the main subject of fiction, as far as I was concerned, which is human nature and its relation to the universe. The hobbits aren't human beings, elves aren't human beings. The whole thing in Tolkien is a complete sham really.'

Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials and many other bestsellers, in the Sunday Times