Meet the Author – Geoff Le Pard

I can honestly say I was very excited to write this post. This is my first official participation in an author interview and wow – have I started on a good one. So without much further ado meeeeeettt (in my head at this point I am hearing a drumroll)….. Geoff Le Pard.

MEET THE AUTHOR - GEOFF LE PARD
MEET THE AUTHOR – GEOFF LE PARD

Many of you already know Geoff from his blog geofflepard.com, he’s also a regular contributor to the weekly #writephoto challenge and produces some phenomenal stories. He’s recently published a new book titled “The Art of Spirit Capture” (which can be found at the following links: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com ), so I sent Geoff a few questions to find out about the book, an insight into his writing process and to find out his favourite page-turners. His responses are (as you would expect from Geoff,) honest, brilliant and in places hilarious. I certainly had a huge smile, I hope you enjoy it too.

  • Tell us a bit about your book?

            It’s a mix of mystery, a bit of magic maybe, a Christmassy setting and possibly some romance. It follows Jason who we meet at the start when he’s been made redundant and is having to meet his ex to divi up their things. His brother is in a coma after a bike accident and very soon Jason’s going to be homeless. While this is happening he hears from a firm of lawyers that he and his brother have inherited his great aunt’s estate. When he goes to see the lawyer he finds out he’s going to be represented by Lotte who he knew as children and of whom he has less than favourable memories. The story centres on a Sussex town of Mendlesham, and its cast of characters who want to know Jason’s plans for his uncle’s captures. What are captures and why are they going to cause Jason so much grief and joy? You’ll have to read to find out.

  • Where do your ideas come from?

            Ah that old tricky one! This idea, you’ll be pleased to know came from a Writephoto prompt but they can come from anywhere. It might be a phrase (my first novel was based on the legal expression The Right to Roam, my first published novel on an incident in a hotel I worked in in 1976, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle). I’ve got ideas from: meeting a woman raising money for a soup kitchen in Union Sq, San Francisco; the first time I let our rescue dog off the lead; peering through a hoarding round a building site on my way home from work one evening. As you know, with a lot of short fiction, I am stimulated by prompts.

  • Do you start with a character or a plot?

            I’d say mostly plot, but the story only has legs if I can find two or more characters who I want to write about. Character is essential if the book is to be readable and coherent.

  • Do you do a lot of research, if so, what is your ratio of research-to-writing?

            I’m useless at research. My Harry Spittle Series are essentially historic in that they are set, variously, in 1976, 1981, 1987 and the one I’m in the middle of right now, 1997. That means a fair bit of research but mostly to check my memory or find something that happened at the relevant time to build in some credibility. Walking into Trouble is set mostly on the Cotswolds Way, a 110 mile long distance footpath so I needed to make sure I knew the settings (I have walked it but a while back so some things had to be checked). Otherwise I try to avoid it. Apart from forming Dire Straits two years early (I’ve apologised to Mark Knopfler) in my first book, I think I’ve gotten away with it mostly. I take my lead from Graham Swift who said he never did research when asked why he ended his Booker Prize winning novel Last Orders in Margate. Admitting he’d never been there, he said it just seemed right for his characters but he didn’t feel the need to join them.

  • Does sitting down to write a novel get easier now that you are on book no (12?)?

            Both, I suppose. I’m not intimidated by starting, by the amount of time I know it will take, the fact that writing the first draft is probably the easy bit and finishing that is merely opening Pandora’s box to months, maybe years of editing. But I remain terrified I will not be able to make it work, that the ending will elude me, that the characters will take me so far away from where I was aiming that I have a totally different novel. When I started Walking Into Trouble (under a very different title), it was to be a light comedic tale. In the end it became dark, difficult, exploring fractured relationships and the damage that affairs can cause. There’s little humour. I wasn’t sure I wanted that and as a result two characters were written too flat with no nuance. Once I accepted what it had become, I concentrated on them and it lifted off the page.

  • Who do you enjoy reading?

            Gosh. In terms of the genres I enjoy: humorous/fantasy has me reaching for Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Ben Aaronovitch, Marina Lewycka, Helen Fielding, Sue Townsend, Neil Gaiman, Fredrik Backman, PG Woodhouse, Graeme Simsion, Grant Naylor; Kim Harrison. Thriller/crime: Ian Rankin, Ann Cleeves, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart MacBride, Tess Gerritsen, Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky. Jolly good literary fiction: Iain Banks, Lionel Shriver, Graham Swift, Eimear McBride, Rachel Joyce, Emma Healey. Classics: Dickens, Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Patrick Harrison, HG Wells, Harper Lee, Dorothy L Sayers. Non fiction: Bill Bryson, Adam Kaye, Tim Spector. Indie: Anne Goodwin, Phil Taylor, Ali Potts, Ruth Sutton, Don Massenzio. Whew…

  • What is in your to-read pile?

            Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin, The Authority Gap by Mary-Ann Sieghart, The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff


Big, Big thank you to Geoff for agreeing to be featured and taking the time to answer all my questions. Also, a big thank you for your continued support with the #writephoto prompt. I’ve downloaded The Art of Spirit Capture and can’t wait to read it (especially in the approaching festive season, it just seems so fitting).


Check out Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page for more info and see his wonderful collection of publications.

Here are a few intro’s to get you started:

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Would you like to be featured?

If any New2writing followers have an upcoming book and would like to be featured, please drop me an email at kl.caley@yahoo.co.uk.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Take Care.

KL ❤

Know Your History – 21st September – Stephen King born

know your history - writingOn this day… 21st September, 1947 – Stephen King born

Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of contemporary horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into feature films, miniseries, television shows, and comic books. King has published 54 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman and six non-fiction books. He has written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine.

Advice On Writing

Mr King has a whole book “On Writing” and for those that haven’t read it, it’s actually really insightful. So here are a few tips of Mr Kings that I thought were quite good.

  1. Stop Watching Television. Instead, Read as Much as Possible. If you’re just starting out as a writer, your television should be the first thing to go. It’s “poisonous to creativity”, he says.
  2. Write Primarily for Yourself. You should write because it brings you happiness and fulfilment. King Says, “I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever.”s king
  3. When Writing, Disconnect From the Rest of the World. King Advises “Write with the door closed; rewrite with the door open.”
  4. Master the Art of Description. “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s,” writes King. The important part isn’t writing enough, but limiting how much you say.
  5. When You’re Finished Writing, Take a Long Step Back. King suggests six weeks of “recuperation time” after you’re done writing, so you can have a clear mind to spot any glaring holes in the plot or character development. He asserts that a writer’s original perception of a character could be just as faulty as the reader’s.
    King compares the writing and revision process to nature. “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees,” he writes. “When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” When you do find your mistakes, he says that “you are forbidden to feel depressed about them or to beat up on yourself. Screw-ups happen to the best of us.”

 Did You Know?..

 Stephen King wrote a musical?

 Stephen King doesn’t seem like the type of man that would write a musical, does he? But he did write one with John Mellencamp – an American rock singer-songwriter – which was called The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. It was based on Mellencamp’s Indiana home, which came with a ghost story about three siblings who were playing in the woods when one was shot. The surviving brother and sister jumped into their car to get help, but, due to their panic, they swerved off the road and were instantly killed. The three siblings are thought to haunt the woods by Mellencamp’s home.

Know Your History – 20th September – George R.R. Martin born

know your history - writingOn this day… 20th September, 1948 – George RR Martin born

George Raymond Richard Martin (born George Raymond Martin; September 20, 1948), often referred to as GRRM, is an American novelist and short story writer in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres, a screenwriter, and television producer. He is best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels that HBO adapted for its dramatic series Game of Thrones.

Martin serves as the series’ co-executive producer, while also scripting four episodes of the series. In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time called Martin “the American Tolkien”.

Advice On Writing

George R.R. Martin divides storytellers into pre-planning Architects and Gardeners. “The Gardener just sort of digs a hole george rr martin - reader - booksand plants a seed, and then he waters it with his blood and sweat before waiting to see what will come up. It’s not totally random, because obviously the Gardener knows what he’s planted; he knows whether it’s an oak tree or a pumpkin. If he’s not taken totally by surprise by further inspiration he has a general idea of what he’s doing … I lean very much to the side of the Gardener.”

Early in his career Martin produced reams of unfinished story fragments. He learned to appreciate Robert Heinlein’s Four Rules for Writing. Martin says “The first one was ‘you must write, but the second one was ‘you must finish what you write. A lot of young writers somehow get stuck, or it goes awry and they don’t finish those stories. Heinlein was right: You have to overcome that.”

 Did You Know?..

Martin was a prolific writer to the letters pages of Marvel Comics, and would regularly pen missives to writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby directly. His first professionally published work is in an issue of Fantastic Four.

Know Your History – 18th September – Samuel Johnson born

know your history - writingOn this day… 18th September, 1709 – Samuel Johnson born

Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 – 13 December 1784), often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history”.

On Writing

After working as a teacher Johnson moved to London, where he began to write for The Gentleman’s Magazine. His early works include the biography Life of Mr Richard Savage, the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes, and the play Irene.

After nine years of work, Johnson’s A Dictionary of the Samuel johnson - a writer begins a book - a reader finishesEnglish Language was published in 1755. It had a far-reaching effect on Modern English and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship”. This work brought Johnson popularity and success. Until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson’s was viewed as the pre-eminent British dictionary.

In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson described their travels in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, a collection of biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets.

 Did You Know?..

Johnson’s heir was his servant (a former slave) Francis Barber

Barber joined Johnson’s household as a servant. He lived with Johnson for more than 30 years, as did his wife and children, and became Johnson’s heir.

For other interesting facts about Samuel Johnsons dictionary head over to: http://interestingliterature.com/2015/04/15/interesting-facts-about-samuel-johnsons-dictionary/

Know Your History – 16th September – James Alan McPherson born

know your history - writingOn this day… 16th September, 1934 – James Alan McPherson born

James Alan McPherson (born September 16, 1943) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American short story writer and essayist. He has been a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship. McPherson is a member of the permanent faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

Advice On Writing

 What makes for a compelling history volume?

  • First and foremost, it has to be readable. If the writing is awkward, jargon ridden, narrow, if the prose is dull or dead, then people aren’t going to read it.
  • Second, it has to be accurate. It has to be based on thorough research and on an honest effort to present the story as objectively as possible. Nobody can be 100 percent objective, but it has to be fair-minded.
  • Third, I think it does have to be a story. It has to have dramatic tension. It can’t merely be about large economic or social or cultural forces without real people in there with whom the reader can identify. These are some of the important things that will engage the reader and keep him from saying, ‘This is dull, this is uninteresting. I’m not going to waste my time on this book.’

James Alan McPherson - Love

Did You Know?..

McPherson is heavily influenced by Ralph Ellison and actually co-wrote with him on “Indivisible Man”.

McPherson believes “that the United States is complex enough to induce that sort of despair that begets heroic hope. I believe that if one can experience its diversity, touch a variety of its people, laugh at its craziness, distill wisdom from its tragedies, and attempt to synthesize all this inside oneself without going crazy, one will have earned the right to call oneself citizen of the United States.”

Like Ellison, McPherson is a moral historian. Recognizing the American territory as an ideal always pursued, always there but never reached, he holds his fiction to a high standard by virtue of his identity as a black American writer: “Those of us who are black and who have to defend our humanity should be obliged to continue defending it, on higher and higher levels—not of power, which is a kind of tragic trap, but on higher levels of consciousness.”

Know Your History – 15th September – Lolita published

know your history - writingOn this day… 15th September, 1955 – LOLITA was published

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the publication of Lolita, one of the most controversial novels of the twentieth century. Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, written in English and published in 1955 in Paris, in 1958 in New York, and in 1959 in London. It was later translated by its Russian-native author into Russian and published by Phaedra Publishers in New York in 1967. The novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, a 37-to-38-year-old literature professor called Humbert Humbert, who is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather. “Lolita” is his private nickname for Dolores.

Lolita quickly attained a classic status; it is today regarded as Lolita - Vladimir Nabokovone of the prime achievements in 20th century literature, though is also among the most controversial. The novel was adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick in 1962, and again in 1997 by Adrian Lyne. It has also been adapted several times for stage and has been the subject of two operas, two ballets, and an acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful Broadway musical.

Lolita is included on TIME magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels to have been published from 1923 to 2005. It is also fourth on the Modern Library’s 1998 list of the 100 best novels of the 20th century, and holds a place in the Bokklubben World Library, a 2002 collection of the most celebrated books in history.

 Did You Know?..

French officials banned Lolita for being “obscene,” as did England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa.

Today, the term Lolita has come to imply an oversexed teenage siren, although Vladimir Nabokov, for his part, never intended to create the association. In fact, he nearly burned the manuscript in disgust, and fought with his publishers over whether an image of a girl should be included on the book’s cover.

Know Your History – 14th September – Kate Millett born

know your history - writingOn this day… 14th September, 1934 – Kate Millett born.

Katherine Murray “Kate” Millett (born September 14, 1934) is an American feminist writer, educator, artist, and activist. She has been described as “a seminal influence on second-wave feminism”, and is best known for her 1970 book Sexual Politics, which was her doctoral dissertation at Columbia University. Journalist Liza Featherstone attributes previously unimaginable “legal abortion, greater professional equality between the sexes and a sexual freedom” being made possible partially due to Millett’s efforts.

About Writing

Her books were motivated by her activism, such as woman’s Kate Millett - Love is deadrights and mental health reform, and several were autobiographical memoirs that explored her sexuality, mental health, and relationships. Mother Millett and The Loony Bin Trip, for instance, dealt with family issues and the times when she was involuntarily committed. Besides appearing in a number of documentaries, she produced Three Lives and wrote Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography.

Did You Know?..

Kate attended Oxford University and was the first American woman to be awarded a postgraduate degree with first-class honors by St. Hilda’s.

Know Your History – 13th September – Roald Dahl born

know your history - writingOn this day… 13th September, 1916 – Roald Dahl born.

Roald Dahl (13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990) was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, often very dark humour. His works for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine, and The Twits. Adult works include Tales of the Unexpected and My Uncle Oswald.

About Writing

Roald Dahl wrote all of his stories in a shed at the end of his garden. roald dahl quote - secrets & magicEvery day from 10.00-12.00 and 16.00-18.00, Roald Dahl would write stories whilst sitting in a shed at the end of his garden. All of his stories were written using an HB pencil on yellow legal notepads.

Seven tips from Roald Dahl

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More features a short extract called Lucky Break, in which Roald Dahl explains how he came to be a writer. It also includes seven tips from Roald on the qualities he thought necessary to anyone wanting to make a living out of writing fiction. They were:

  1. “You should have a lively imagination.”
  2. “You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability. It is a gift and you either have it or you don’t.”
  3. “You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month.”
  4. “You must be a perfectionist. That means you must never be satisfied with what you have written until you have rewritten it again and again, making it as good as you possibly can.”
  5. “You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to give you the sack if you don’t turn up for work, or to tick you off if you start slacking.”
  6. “It helps a lot if you have a keen sense of humour. This is not essential when writing for grown-ups, but for children, it’s vital.”
  7. “You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvellous is heading for trouble.”

 Did You Know?..

“Roald Dahl created more than 250 words”

Chiddler, frobscottle, swishwiffingly scrumdiddlyumptious — okay so they’re not exactly in the OED, nor are they commonly used, but to create a register of 283 words is still quite impressive. The collection of words is called Gobblefunk and it’s mainly used in The BFG, although it does also make an appearance in Dahl’s other works, such as ‘Oompa Loompa’ in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Know Your History – 12th September – James Frey born

know your history - writingJames Christopher Frey (born September 12, 1969) is an American writer and the founder and CEO of Full Fathom Five, a transmedia production company responsible for the young adult series “The Lorien Legacies”, the first book of which I Am Number Four (2010) was made into a feature film by DreamWorks Studios.

His two first books A Million Little Pieces (2003) and My Friend Leonard (2005), were marketed as memoirs, but large parts of the stories were later found to be exaggerated or fabricated. His 2008 novel Bright Shiny Morning was also a bestseller.

About Writing

There is a lot of Controversy about Frey online, about his “memoir” called A Million Little Pieces. On January 8, 2006, The Smoking Gun website published an article called “A Million Little Lies: Exposing James Frey’s Fiction Addiction”, alleging that Frey fabricated large parts of his memoirs, including details about his criminal record. One incident in the book that came under particular scrutiny was a 1986 train-automobile collision in St. Joseph Township, Michigan.james frey

The website alleged that Frey had never been incarcerated and that he greatly exaggerated the circumstances of a key arrest detailed in the memoir: hitting a police officer with his car, while high on crack, which led to a violent melee with multiple officers and an 87-day jail sentence. In the police report that TSG uncovered, Frey was held at a police station for no more than five hours before posting a bond of a few hundred dollars for some minor offenses. The arresting officer, according to TSG, recalled Frey as having been polite and cooperative.

On November 2, 2007, the Associated Press published a story about a judgment in favour of readers who felt deceived by Frey’s claims of A Million Little Pieces being a memoir. Although the publisher, Random House, had set aside $2.35 million for lawsuits, only 1,729 readers came forward to receive a refund for the book. However since the incident Frey’s work still continues to sell well.

Did You Know?..

Another Controversy Surrounds Frey and the Full Fathom Five fiction series.

In 2009, Frey formed Full Fathom Five, a young adult novel publishing company that aimed to create highly commercial novels like Twilight. In November 2010, controversy arose when an MFA student who had been in talks to create content for the company released her extremely limiting contract online. The contract allows Frey license to remove an author from a project at any time, does not require him to give the author credit for their work, and only pays a standard advance of $250. A New York magazine article entitled “James Frey’s Fiction Factory” gave more details about the company, including information about the highly successful “Lorien Legacies” series, a collaboration between MFA student Jobie Hughes and Frey. The article details how Frey removed Hughes from the project, allegedly during a screaming match between the two authors. In the article, Frey is accused of abusing and using MFA students as cheap labour to churn out commercial young adult books.

Know Your History – 11th September – D.H. Lawrence born.

know your history - writingOn this day… 11th September, 1885 – D.H. Lawrence born.

David Herbert Richards Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930) was an English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter who published as D. H. Lawrence. His collected works, among other things, represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, some of the issues Lawrence explores are emotional health, vitality, spontaneity and instinct.

About Writing

Lawrence’s idealistic theories about sexual relations, interestd h lawrence dream in mysticism and primitive religions, resulted in some of the most famous of the 20th Century’s censorship cases. The explicit sexual content of Lady Chatterley’s Lover became infamous in the late fifties / early sixties and led to this famous book being banned for many years.

Did You Know?..

At the time of his death, Lawrence’s public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents.

M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as, “The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation”.