Like many writers, I eavesdrop as a matter of course. In London, if I am taking the subway home after a night out, round midnight, I have found myself on the platform studying the people around me. Very occasionally, I have moved to join a carriage that contains people who look interesting. At this time, it is usually a couple of some sort who have the most draw; whether amorous, awkward or indifferent, the elastic band between two people in a relationship will generally keep my attention.
It doesn’t mean I walk home from the station with glinting gems of invaded privacy in my pocket; usually I just get a sense of a mood, punctuated with unmemorable dialogue. It’s an ephemeral experience. But at the time, I must confess, it is consuming. With my own novels, I have found that it is close observation that introduces surprise into the text, and that steers me away from cliche.