I was tagged recently by Maria Savva as part of ‘A Very British Blog Tour’. The idea is to introduce readers to more British writers. I don’t really define myself by nationality that much, but I like Maria and some of the questions are interesting, so I thought I’d take part.
Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
A. I was born in London and I’m back in London again now, although I’ve been away for a while in-between.
Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?
A. I lived in New York for six years, and in Barbados for a year.
Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
A. There’s beautiful countryside all over, but the Scottish Highlands are my favourite. I love the combination of mountains and lakes, and also the remoteness and isolation (although this is due to a terrible historical event).
Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
A. I haven’t consciously set out to highlight any particular area, but I have set my books in Britain. My first novel started out in north London but the characters, like me, sought to escape, and ended up in Scotland. My second, A Virtual Love, is set in Milton Keynes, but much of the action takes place in online worlds, so it’s not much of a showcase.
Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
A. The stiff upper lip is definitely a myth. I was in London for the riots a couple of years ago, and people were panicking and calling for the army and all sorts. Recently a fox attacked a baby, and now foxes are the enemy du jour and must be exterminated. I’d say that the dominant national mood is media-induced hysteria. The only remnant of the stiff upper lip is in a general reluctance among many people (mostly men) to express emotion. But the days of stoicism in the face of adversity are long gone.
Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
A. No, and no. They are mostly flawed characters, and don’t display either stoicism or the ‘bulldog spirit’. They try to master their own fates, but often fail.
Q. Tell us about one of your recent books
A. My latest novel, A Virtual Love, is an exploration of issues of identity in the age of social media. Alex Wheatle described it as “a fascinating, modern story that had me gripped”, and James Miller called it “a compelling and very entertaining look at the complexities of our hyper real age.”
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. It’s a novel about a man who spends more time living for what the world thinks than for what he really wants. I also weave in the story of a real-life ancestor of mine, who was a claimant to the throne of Spain in the mid-19th century but gave it up to move to England and become a photographer.
Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
A. At the moment, with a new book out soon, writing or writing-related activities are eating into a lot of my leisure time. And when I have the time, I don’t have the money to do much! But I do read a lot, and I enjoy wandering or driving aimlessly around areas I’ve never visited before, seeing things that are fresh and different.
Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
A. Definitely global. One of the great things about the internet is that, although I only have a UK publisher, I can reach readers from Utah to Mumbai to Australia. I always love hearing from readers in different parts of the world, and was delighted when one of my short stories got translated into Turkish recently. I’d love to have my novels translated, too.
Q. Can you provide links to your work?
The “Published work” page on this site contains links to both of my novels, as well as places where I’ve published short stories, essays, reviews and journalism. If you want a quick link to my latest novel, click here.
I’m supposed to tag other authors now, but instead I’m going to throw it open: if you’re reading this, and you’re British, and you write in any form, consider yourself tagged!