What’s your book called?
What’s it about?
It’s a comic farce based on my early days as a local newspaper reporter in Bridport and, before that, Newton Abbot. Basically, the plot centres on what happens when a know-all journalist from London comes down and tries to make a name for himself. He is unprepared for the bizarre twists and turns that happen after royal newlyweds move into a nearby stately home.
When did you write it?
I began writing it in the late 1980s. It went through several different drafts before I ended up with the version I have now.
Why did you write it? What was the inspiration behind it?
A local newspaper office is a fertile breeding ground for the most amazing characters and situations. I’ve worked with some truly larger than life people and I’ve come across so many odd and interesting stories in Dorset and Devon over the years. I wanted to capture that sense of weirdness. I like to tell a moralistic story with completely off-the-wall bells and whistles attached. I’m a surrealist at heart, living in a parallel universe, and hate injustice.
Why did you wait until now to publish it?
It’s a confidence thing, really. Years ago, I had great feedback on the first draft from my friend and mentor, Dr Who scriptwriter the late David Martin. But I didn’t do anything with the manuscript. Then, on the day of David's funeral in 2007, I had a bit of an epiphany and decided to start writing again. I did a couple of creative writing courses with The Open University and found my writer’s voice. This past year, I’ve been living in Greece which gave me the time and creative focus to get on and finish A Town Like This and come up with new ideas. After that, I contacted Mitch and Sean as I knew they had both written novels some years ago which were inspired by West Dorset. I suggested we publish together under the umbrella of The Bridport Press. I figured there might be safety in numbers.
Does your book have a theme?
It didn’t start out with one. Themes can be a bit grand or contrived for a simple soul like me, especially where farce is concerned. But I realised at the end, A Town Like This is about loyalty, a sense of place and social justice, with decent people coming out on top and bad people getting their just desserts.
Are the characters based on real people?
Of course they are. But they are an amalgam of people with whom I have worked and known over the years. There are three characters – Ketty, Bertie and Elsie – who are based on real people but two of them are dead and one of them is me. To be honest, the real Bertie was far more colourful in real life.
What’s your favourite bit?
I like the scene where Winkle is interviewing the illegal immigrant he comes across in Elsie's attic. I also like the ending at the local agricultural show. The real show is always one of the high points of my Bridport year because it’s often on my birthday.
Give us three words to sum up the book’s style.
Comedy, characters and countryside.
Are there any more books in the pipeline?
Yes. I published A Year in Lush Places earlier in 2013, which is a novella based on my blog, The World from my Window, which takes a sideways and affectionate look at life in a West Dorset village. I think a sequel could well be in the offing. But first I have Kalimera Kerkyra: A Year on a Greek Island to finish, which tells the story of my Big Fat Greek Gap Year in 2013 when I lived in Emma Tennant’s family’s house. There is also the first of a trilogy based on a Stuart time traveller which begins in West Dorset in 1651. I’m not sure about that one. And there is also a book based on Facebook statuses which tell the funny but poignant story of my eight-year-old grand-daughter who is getting wiser by the day and my friend’s elderly mother, who has dementia. It’s going to be called Glad to be Faye and profits will be split between the special care baby unit at Dorchester and The Alzheimer’s Society.