Q&A with Christopher Bowden

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Purple Shadow. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the tour and to Christopher Bowden for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write?

Yes but inhibited for many years by the demands of busy jobs and family life.  Eventually, I took early retirement to give me the time and space to think – and write.

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

I had various jobs in the civil service.  They involved a lot of drafting, which has (I hope) helped the more creative writing to be succinct and clear and focussed.

What was your inspiration for The Purple Shadow?

Two things which came together.  I wanted to write a novel set largely in Paris, a city I have visited many times, and to write one with purple in the title.  All my books have colours in the title and it was purple’s turn!  But the purple what?  I eventually settled on shadow as providing interesting possibilities and decided that the shadow should appear in a painting – found in Paris.  My titles always come first and help to shape and drive the story, rather than other way round.

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

The characters are creations and do not correspond to real individuals.  That said, creating them (appearance, voice, foibles etc) inevitably draws upon the stock of experience of people known or observed or simply overheard.  

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

I need a few ideas to kick-start the process but, after that, I find plot and themes develop in the writing.  It helps that I know some of the characters and places from previous books but that does not inhibit the creation of new ones.  I don’t know how a book will end when I start it.  Finding out what will happen is part of the pleasure of writing it and, I hope, of reading it too.

How did you research The Purple Shadow? Did you enjoy it?

Mainly after the writing is underway.  A mixture of books (fact and fiction), internet research (especially for fact checking) and visits to places that feature in the novels, either as themselves or in disguise.  This included lengthy walks around Paris in the footsteps of my protagonists.  Tiring but enjoyable!

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

Very varied.  Paul Auster and William Boyd for plot, character and evocation of time and place, Barbara Comyns and Barbara Pym for a certain kind of English quirkiness (or quirky Englishness), and the ‘strange fiction’ of writers as different as Shirley Jackson and Reggie Oliver.  I’m not conscious of specific influences but I expect that what I read filters through in some way to my own writing.  Some have seen similarities with the novels of Antoine Laurain (The President’s Hat, The Red Notebook, etc), also set mainly in Paris and all of which I’ve read (in English).

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

How about Timothée Chalamet as Colin Mallory and Meryl Streep as  Madame Ducasse?

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Gardens and gardening, reading, films, theatre, galleries, travel.  They also feed into the writing in one way or another but the travel has been rather constrained over the past couple of years.

What is next for you?

I have completed a novel called Mr Magenta (yes, another colour) set in London, New York, Marseille and on the east coast of England.  I hope that will appear sometime in 2022.


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The Purple Shadow is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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