John Banville: The first paragraph is the absolute. For me, it’s the essential. One of my books — I can’t remember which — I spent, I think, three, maybe four, months writing the first paragraph. Sometimes I was just writing the same paragraph, trying to get the tone, because tone is everything. Now don’t ask me to explain what tone is. But I have to hear the voice. And every novel has its own voice and its own tone. Once you get that, then you’ve got it. And curiously, it has a lot to do with getting the names of the characters right. If you’re going through Henry James’s notebooks, you see a long list of names, possible names. Now, how do you know when a character’s name is right? You don’t. But somehow it makes a chime. It just sounds — it feels right, and that is very important for me.