Today I’m joining the blog tour for Living Is Losing. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Zoe O’Farrell for inviting me on the blog tour and to Cassius Cox for answering my questions!
Have you always wanted to write?
The honest answer is no. I never had the belief or confidence to think I could write a novel. I have always loved stories, in books, TV or film. My writing journey started twelve years ago when I suffered an injury that meant I was unable to walk for months. During that time, I started writing ideas for a story that had been in my head for years. The next step was studying the craft of writing which led to my first draft of Living Is Losing, which was awful.
What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?
I’ve been a Wages clerk, a carpet cleaner and an accounts clerk. I have never found a job I have been happy in. I have always felt there is something more out there. The only way these jobs have helped with my writing is with my characters. The characters in my writing come from many people I have known over the years.
What was your inspiration for Living Is Losing?
Sadly, the first inspiration was the death of my brother in tragic circumstances. This happened when we were teenagers out playing in the summer of 1989. Living Is Losing is part based on my own life. It was terribly difficult to write this novel, it brought up memories I had buried for years. I have suffered with depression for over 30 years, and I have had therapy along the way, I have bought this all into my book.
Secondly, I am a huge boxing fan so to make my protagonist, Jack Stone a boxer was an easy decision. Boxing is a brutal sport where there is nowhere to hide in a one-on-one situation, it makes for dramatic writing.
And thirdly, my biggest fear in life is something awful happening to my children. Mentally I have always felt I could not go through another tragic loss in my life, I’ve questioned what it would do to me. I wanted to ask several questions of the reader:
If you have been to hell and back, can you go there for a second time and survive?
What would you do in this circumstance if you knew the person that had taken your child? Would it be all about revenge?
Or would you do the right thing?
What even is the right thing?
How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?
I have a clear picture in my head for each and every character, I know what they look like, how they dress, how they act, and how they speak. Some of those characters are based on people I know, especially the despicable ones, if I could use their full name and get away with it, I would.
What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a panster. I have the story in my head. I personally believe it is all in there just waiting to come out. For me, once it’s in my head, it doesn’t go away. If an idea comes to me, I do not need to write it down, it isn’t going away.
I start by writing the set scenes I have in my head, and then I build the story around them. If I am ever stuck for an idea, I will go out for a jog or go in the gym, bang on some loud music, get my endorphins going and wait for them to come.
I have nothing against plotting but to me it would feel like a job, I don’t want a job, I want to write, it’s all I want to do.
How did you research Living Is Losing? Did you enjoy it?
Any research I needed, I found online. I had to look up certain facts about boxing history. I like to start my chapters famous quotes, I had to research who was the first person to use each one, I wanted to credit the right person.
Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?
I don’t have favourite writers. But I do have favourite books. I have to fall in love with the characters to enjoy a book. I can’t name all the books I love as it would take too long, but Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne series is amazing, they are dark enough for my taste, have several great characters, and the occasional bit of comedy is wonderfully timed.
I love any books by Roald Dahl, reading his books as a child was amazing. Then as an adult reading them over and over again to my children brings back special memories that I will forever cherish.
J K Rowling’s Harry Potter is fantastic. My whole family and I are Harry Potter mad.
A stand-out book for me is One Day by David Nicholls, I believed in the two protagonists from start to finish. I felt like I knew them, I still do. Emma is one of my favourite characters from any book. I have no shame admitting I cried at the end.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?
J K Rowling, I would ask about her writing process, about how her life has changed since she became famous, and ask her where her ideas come from? And so much more.
Bobby Moore, he captained the team I support, West Ham, he won trophies for them, and he lifted the world cup for England. On top of this he was the perfect gentleman throughout his career, a true role model.
Stephen Fry would be my final guest, a truly intelligent human being who always speaks sense. If it was up to me, I would make him prime minister, I believe with his moral compass he would always do the right thing, and most importantly he would be honest. An honest politician, we can only dream.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Vladimir Putin because he is a corrupt egomaniac, allegedly! But then again, aren’t most world leaders?
Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Living Is Losing?
Jack Stone – When I wrote the first draft it was well over a decade ago and I had Brad Pitt in mind. Then it moved to Tom Hardy but sadly both of these actors are now too old. So, if it was made today, I would choose Robert Pattison. A great actor who I believe would be perfect. His performances in Good Time, Remember Me and most recently The Batman were perfect. He plays dark and moody very well.
Kirsten Kenward – Jenna Coleman, she was great in The Serpent.
Roisin Kelly – Gillian Anderson would be absolutely ideal. When I first wrote this character, Gillian Anderson was who I pictured from day one.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love spending time with my family, either at home or on holiday in Devon.
I coach children’s football for Dorking Wanderers.
I love the cinema, if I’m struggling mentally, I will go to the cinema for the escapism.
I love reading and listening to audiobooks.
I also occasionally go out for a quiet drink or two with friends, sometimes this leads to more than two!
What is next for you?
I have finished the first draft of my second novel. The working title is Victim Support. It is another story involving heartache and revenge, it is another patient of psychotherapist Roisin Kelly. The big difference this time, the lead protagonist is female. I have loved writing Poppy’s character. Poppy Hart has been through her own hell as a child. As an adult she is strong and wants to help others. She volunteers to help victims of crime alongside the police. Upset with the constant injustice of the British legal system she decides what type of justice should be handed out. When a victim of a brutal attack turns out to be someone she loves, she delivers her own brutal form of justice. But at what cost to herself.
Book? A Christmas Carol, for me it is the perfect story.
Film? The Godfather
TV show? The Sopranos
Biscuit? Chocolate digestive
Living Is Losing is available from Amazon.
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