The Past Gets Bigger and the Future Shrinks: An Interview with Martin Amis

Jane Graham in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

JANE GRAHAM: You began writing seriously when you were relatively young, despite having been more interested in comic books up until your mid-teens. Did it ever occur to you that you might make a living doing something else?

1374391737MARTIN AMIS: Well, my father [Kingsley Amis] was a writer and it seemed natural to start writing in my late teens. I think it was good that I began when I was young and bold and foolish, otherwise I’d have become too self-conscious and aware of the weight of not having written anything yet. I think at that age everyone is looking inside themselves, processing their own thoughts, working themselves out — writers are just people who never grow out of it.

JG: Did it hang over you at first, being the son of such a popular writer in Britain? Or did you think you might capitalize on it?

MA: I started writing so young that I didn’t think about it much. I read his stuff and liked his stuff and was very conscious of being in the same tradition as him, the comic novel. Then it hangs over you a bit later on, especially in Britain anyway — it doesn’t matter so much elsewhere. But here, where he’s still a sort of presence — people get sick of you because you and your father have been around so long. They don’t separate you. It’s as if I was born in 1920. People think, Oh no, not that name again.

JG: Why do you think Kingsley made such a point of not being interested in your work?

MA: I think you’re irritated by your youngers and tend to be respectful of your elders. When I hear about some sensational new writer I sort of think, Shut up… you’ve got to be around for a long time before you can really say you’re a writer. You’ve got to stand the test of time, which is the only real test there is.

More here.