The author talks about his latest book – A Farmhouse in the Rain, and shares his top tips for writing fiction.
For the majority of my adult life I worked in advertising: writing and producing television and radio commercials, newspaper and magazine ads and more. I was lucky enough to do this for an international advertising agency, which enabled me to see lots of the world I otherwise would not have seen. That travel and those experiences helped enormously when I turned to fiction. Though I guess some would say, with tongue only slightly in cheek, that advertising and fiction are not that far removed. I’ve had four novels published thus far, plus over 20 short stories. Hopefully there’s more to come.
A Farmhouse in the Rain is a novel of war and peace, crime and punishment, love and loss, and eventually hope. It’s a saga of World War II, with a murder mystery at its core. The book tracks three American soldiers and the women they love before, during, and after the war. During the invasion of France, the three soldiers are given shelter by a French woman. The next morning she turns up dead, and the soldiers were the only ones in the house. The remainder of the novel concerns itself with who will survive the war, who will survive the peace, who will be able to reunite with the women on the home front, and who will be unmasked as the murderer on that fateful night at A Farmhouse in the Rain.
Who would play the main characters if A Farmhouse in the Rain was made into a film?
The male leads: Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio and Aaron Paul.
The female leads: Jessica Chastain and Scarlett Johansson
What do you think makes a great character?
Insight. What is there about this individual beyond physical description, behaviour patterns, even motivation? What is it about the character that you can impart, that readers may not initially consider? If it’s an insight about human nature that readers can readily identify with, or quickly understand, they’ll ask why they didn’t think of it themselves.
What do you think makes a great plot?
Credibility. Without it, even the most intricate, involving, and/or unique scenario wilts under scrutiny.
What are you top five books of all time?
- Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
- The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
- Paris Trout by Pete Dexter
- The Heart Of The Matter by Graham Greene
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Where do you write?
I write in my home office. With lots of floor-to-ceiling windows that let in the light, and the beauty of trees, grass, and the softly rolling hill of the 13th green. Rather than distracting me, the scenery seems to push me to improve whatever it is I’m trying to do.
How do you find the time to write?
I make time. When you really come down to it, time is all we have. Plus, it’s the one thing we can never get back once it’s gone. This realisation increases my commitment to make the most of it.
Where do you get inspiration from?
The ticking clock, and the fear that I’m not taking advantage of my dwindling allotment.
Do you have any advice for budding authors?
Write what you’d like to read. That doesn’t mean you should try to emulate authors you admire. It simply means that if you write about what really interests you, whether it’s subject matter, time period, genre, whatever, the chances of you doing a bang-up job of it are a lot better than if you simply try to write something you think has a better chance of selling.
A Farmhouse in the Rain will be released in August 2016. If you sign up to our newsletter we can let you know when it’s available to buy.