Geoff Le Pard recently dropped by to tell me a little about his new book.
What is the name of the book?
What inspired you to write it?
I worked off Fleet Street in the City of London. My walk from the office to the station took me via some rather narrow passages, a reminder of London’s medieval past. In one such passage, some building works necessitated a hoarding encroaching on the already narrow walkway. It was dark and misty and the street lights barely cut the gloom. As I approached the hoarding a panel pulled back and a young woman crawled out. From her state, it was pretty clear she was (a) homeless and (b) in a state. We stared at each other before she swore and crawled back inside. I was surprised and a little shaken but it made me wonder what if I had had some reason to interact with the woman? If she had been taken ill or beaten up? What if that led to a greater contact, some unexpected linkage? At the time I read about the six degrees of separation, how we are all linked if you explore things closely enough. From that came a novel about the interaction of London’s subculture – underclass if you like – and the comfortable middle classes that inhabit most of the streets by day.
How long did it take you to write the book?
I began it about 2010. The first draft took me about a year and after that, it was edit, edit, edit….
Tell us a little about the story and the characters.
There are two main protagonists. Suzie Thomas a young woman in her twenties, a Londoner. She has a tough backstory that has led her to be homeless and is the current girlfriend of a local crook and drug user. She’s both tough and vulnerable. Her one love is her dog, Prescott.
Jerzy Komoza is a farmer from Bialystok in Poland. He has finally snapped and beaten his father to protect his sister Maria but fears that locally he won’t be believed so runs. He comes to London desperate to find his old friend Jan who is working with a gang of labourers. The gang is run by Suzie’s boyfriend. Jerzy’s hunt for Jan means he needs Suzie’s help; she sees Jerzy as a soft touch to obtain some hits but gradually they realise they need each other to survive. We follow their exploits over a few days as their lives take some dramatic and dangerous turns.
Who do you think the book will appeal to?
Anyone who likes contemporary thrillers with a darker edge.
Do you have any plans for a follow-up book?
Every book I write I imagine a follow-up. I think if you create compelling characters (which is my aim) you want to know where they go next. But I have no current plans to explore the future. Anyway, who knows if they survive!!
Where can people buy the book?
This is my amazon author page where you can find all my books
and this Smashwords
How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first piece of creative fiction, since school, in July 2006. I haven’t stopped.
Where do your ideas for your stories come from?
Events, dear boy, events. Harold MacMillan was right; we are in the thrall of things happening that make us sit back or up. Each novel has come about through a small experience that has made me ‘what if’ it afterwards. My Father and Other Liars, my previous book came from a five-minute interaction with a tin rattler in Union Square in San Francisco; Buster and Moo, my next book, emerged while walking my newly acquired rescue dog.
When and where (and how often) do you write?
Daily. I have no set time but since, when I started writing, it was after I finished work I still tend to be at my most productive from about 8pm to midnight. I have a desk that I inherited from my father. I repainted it to create a memory desk. It is tucked away behind a staircase with a window looking out at a blank brick wall. Perfect inspiration. But actually I write in cafes and on trains, too and when I’m not actually writing I’m thinking about writing.
What do you think the future hold for you and your books and what plans do have for future books?
I have 3 draft books awaiting editing; two more are three-quarters written. I want to write a novel based on my family’s 20th-century experiences. Beyond that, I have no plans yet but I have had so many ideas for novels that I’ve let go. Unless my memory goes completely, I don’t fear drying up – at least not yet.
What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to write and publish a book?
First up, look at the experience of writing a book as something like taking part in your local 10k run having never run before. You think ‘can’t possibly do it’ but then you see so many who do, people of all shapes and sorts, some who manage it easily and some who struggle but still finish. Ditto a book. If you can write anything you can write a book. It is daunting, of course, but just as a 10k is still a series of individual steps, so a book is just a lot of sentences.
Second, don’t be put off by rules be they spelling, grammar or novel construction. Story arcs and show and don’t tell and all that malarkey have their place, but the bottom line is there is every sort of novel out there; just write and forget the nay-sayers.
Finally, publishing is not vanity and there is no real merit (though there may be financial pluses) in winning a traditional contract against indie. Sure it inflates your ego but the point of publishing, for me at least, was to stop me tinkering and allow anyone who wanted to, to read my stuff (and in my case I write to be read). Indie publishing isn’t that hard, really.
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