"When I was writing for children, I was writing genre fiction. It was like making a good chair. It needed four legs of the same length, it had to be the right height and it had to be comfortable." -- Mark Haddon
Mark Haddon (born 26 September 1962) is an English novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
"As a kid, I didn't read a great deal of fiction, and I've forgotten most of what I did read.""At 20, 25, 30, we begin to realise that the possibilities of escape are getting fewer. We have jobs, children, partners, debts. This is the part of us to which literary fiction speaks.""B is for bestseller.""Bore children, and they stop reading. There's no room for self-indulgence or showing off or setting the scene.""Children simply don't make the distinction; a book is either good or bad. And some of the books they think are good are very, very bad indeed.""Every life is narrow. Our only escape is not to run away, but to learn to love the people we are and the world in which we find ourselves.""For me, disability is a way of getting some extremity, some kind of very difficult situation, that throws an interesting light on people.""From a good book, I want to be taken to the very edge. I want a glimpse into that outer darkness.""I am atheist in a very religious mould. I'm always asking myself the big questions. Where did we come from? Is there a meaning to all of this? When I find myself in church, I edit the hymns as I sing them.""I better make the plot good. I wanted to make it grip people on the first page and have a big turning point in the middle, as there is, and construct the whole thing like a roller coaster ride.""I don't mean that literary fiction is better than genre fiction, On the contrary; novels can perform two functions and most perform only one.""I don't remember deciding to become a writer. You decide to become a dentist or a postman. For me, writing is like being gay. You finally admit that this is who you are, you come out and hope that no one runs away.""I knew there was a story; once you find a dog with a fork through it, you know there's a story there.""I started writing books for children because I could illustrate them myself and because, in my innocence, I thought they'd be easier.""I think most writers feel like they're on the outside looking in much of the time. All of us feel, to a certain extent, alienated from the stuff going on around us.""I think the U.K. is too small to write about from within it and still make it seem foreign and exotic and interesting.""I was born too late for steam trains and a lazy eye meant I'd never be an astronaut.""I've worked in television long enough to know that when you stop enjoying that type of thing you go home and do something else.""I've written 16 children's books and five unpublished novels. Some of the latter were breathtakingly bad.""If kids like a picture book, they're going to read it at least 50 times. Read anything that often, and even minor imperfections start to feel like gravel in the bed.""If one book's done this well, you want to write another one that does just as well. There's that horror of the second novel that doesn't match up.""If you enjoy math and you write novels, it's very rare that you'll get a chance to put your math into a novel. I leapt at the chance.""Jane Austen was writing about boring people with desperately limited lives. We forget this because we've seen too many of her books on screen.""Many children's writers don't have children of their own.""Most adults, unlike most children, understand the difference between a book that will hold them spellbound for a rainy Sunday afternoon and a book that will put them in touch with a part of themselves they didn't even know existed.""Most of my work consisted of crossing out. Crossing out was the secret of all good writing.""My book has a very simple surface, but there are layers of irony and paradox all the way through it.""No one wants to know how clever you are. They don't want an insight into your mind, thrilling as it might be. They want an insight into their own.""Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.""Science and literature give me answers. And they ask me questions I will never be able to answer.""That's important to me, to find the extraordinary inside the ordinary.""The one thing you have to do if you write a book is put yourself in someone else's shoes. The reader's shoes. You've got to entertain them.""There's something with the physical size of America... American writers can write about America and it can still feel like a foreign country.""Use your imagination, and you'll see that even the most narrow, humdrum lives are infinite in scope if you examine them with enough care.""Writing for children is bloody difficult; books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts, and they should therefore be accorded the same respect.""Young readers have to be entertained. No child reads fiction because they think it's going to make them a better person."
Haddon was born in 1962 in Northampton and educated at Uppingham School and Merton College, Oxford, where he studied English.
In 2003, Haddon won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and in 2004, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best First Book for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, a book which is written from the perspective of a boy with Asperger syndrome. However, Haddon has stated on his website that he knows "very little about the subject", and that he "slightly regret[s]" that the term "Asperger syndrome" appeared on the cover of his book. Moreover, he had done no research about autism before writing the novel. Rather, he recommends that one read works by people who have Asperger syndrome themselves. In an interview at Powells.com, Haddon claimed that this was the first book that he wrote intentionally for an adult audience; he was surprised when his publisher suggested marketing it to both adult and child audiences. His second adult novel, A Spot of Bother, was published in September 2006.
Mark Haddon is also known for his series of Agent Z books, one of which, Agent Z and the Penguin from Mars, was made into a 1996 Children's BBC sitcom. He also wrote the screenplay for the BBC television adaptation of Raymond Briggs's story Fungus the Bogeyman, screened on BBC1 in 2004. In 2007 he wrote the BBC television drama Coming Down the Mountain.
Haddon is a vegetarian, and enjoys vegetarian cookery. He describes himself as a 'hard-line atheist'. In an interview with The Observer, Haddon said "I am atheist in a very religious mould". His atheism might be inferred from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in which the main character declares that those who believe in God are stupid.
In 2009, he donated the short story The Island to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Haddon's story was published in the 'Fire' collection.
Mark Haddon lives in Oxford with his wife Dr. Sos Eltis, a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, and their two young sons.