Q&A with Justin Newland

Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for The Abdication. My post is shared with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to Justin Newland for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?

No, not always. I wrote some fiction when I was a student. 

I’ve always been an avid reader and researcher though, and my love of literature and passion for research helped me return to writing some years ago.

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?

My research degree was in Mathematics. After that I went into computer programming. These taught me how to combine the arts of discipline and creativity into a cohesive whole and I daresay helped me with the writing process.

What was your inspiration for The Abdication?

My previous novel was The Coronation. And what can follow a crowning is an abdication. In it, I wanted to explore the fabric of and motives for human development. How does it occur? What are its purposes? And in that context, what of free will? What is it for and why were we given it?

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?

I tend to start writing the characters and then discover them as I go along, adding in detail and definition, fabric and faience. They don’t particularly have traits of people I know, but I often have their names. 

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A bit of both. And I think writing history-based stories, you have to marry fact and fiction, history and fiction. So, the plot elements are enshrined in the historical events and characters, but then I weave my story in and around those fixed points, rather like seedlings grow organically up the strands of a lattice.  

How did you research The Abdication? Did you enjoy it?

I tend to use multiple sources of research. The Abdication is not a historical novel per se, although it does have historical elements, places and myths.  So, I read novels, I research the geographical area – the Middle East – where the novel is loosely set. I turn to friends who have a better knowledge of the legend – such as the Hebrew myths, that the reader will encounter in the novel. 

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?

Mmm, so many. I love writing and literature. I have read voraciously for years. Sometimes, when I came across a novelist I enjoyed, I’d devour his novels, short stories, and sometimes his diaries too. Here are a few: Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Herman Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Albert Camus, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen King, John Steinbeck, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Thomas Hardy, George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Eric Maria Remarque.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?

Queen Elizabeth I of England – to meet and converse with a fine lady.

Merlin (of King Arthur’s Court) – to find out with what powers he sealed the sword in the stone and then ask how he taught King Arthur to melt the rock and withdraw the stone. 

Narmer – King of Egypt in the First Dynasty – to find out exactly what life was like in those days and to discover, once and for all, how the pyramids were built. 

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

Any politician. They seem to have a difficulty telling the truth, and like the sound of their own voices.

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of The Abdication?

Tula – Zendaya. 

Enoch – Anthony Hopkins. 

Geb – Ralph Fiennes

Damien – Tom Hardy

Sarah – Helena Bonham Carter

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Watching sports on television, reading, walking, travelling.

What is next for you?


Researching and writing a novel exploring the fate of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Favourites:

Book? Albert Camus’ The Plague.

Film? The Bridge over the River Kwai.

Band/Singer? The Rolling Stones.

TV show? Das Boot. 

Colour? Navy/Royal Blue.

Place? Home.

Biscuit? Digestive. 

***

The Abdication is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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