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The novelist, 56, on depression, nihilism, ‘chick lit’, being born an alcoholic and how she dealt with the death of her dad

My proudest achievement by far is learning to drive, aged 37. I often still marvel at myself, changing the gears with one hand. I feel very empowered and really very, very pleased with myself.

When I was two, my mother’s chip pan caught fire – and that’s how religion started for me. She’d taken down a plate from the wall that had a prayer on it; I linked the fire to us interfering with God’s word. Today, I despise organised religion – they’re all misogynistic, they’re all about keeping people terrified, controlling women. Catholicism is obsessed with people’s sex lives. Having been brought up with it, fear and shame are still my core emotions.

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