Interview Q&A in May 2019 Family Tree Magazine
Q: Tell us about Tommys War.
A: The book has a very definite storyline and conclusion and I don't want to give too much away in advance but the full title, Tommy's War: July 1914 is a clue. As most will know, this was the month before WW1 started. Tommy learns of the impending war and how, if he doesn't try to do something, it will impact on his own family. At the same time, his personal life is starting to change dramatically and the two factors are thrown into conflict. I had the idea for the book as long as 12 years ago in Paris, when I saw that what seemed like every other street was named for Jean Jaures. Finding out more about this intriguing man — largely forgotten in Britain — provided the 'spark'.
Q: Did anyone in real life inspire your depiction of the main character?
A: Tommy is entirely fictional but a number of real people, like Charlie Chaplin and Queen Victoria (in retrospect) do appear. Tommy is a native of Greenford, Middlesex. This is where I was brought up (years later, by which time it had grown tremendously) although I have no family connection with what is now a suburb of London.
Q: You've been tracing your family tree for 40 years, what research did you undertake for your novel? Do you think your family history skills and knowledge helped you?
A: I did an enormous amount of research for the book, although this was general and local rather than family history. My experience in family history was very helpful in making the background authentic. The centre of the story is the conflict between family and world history.
Q: What key advice do you have for anyone else thinking of writing and self-publishing a novel?
A: The world of publishing has changed enormously. I've had six books published by `external' publishers and three independently. The production values of the two groups are identical and 'the three' have appeared and been sold worldwide. Some warnings though: some comfort with information technology is necessary and it's extremely hard work! And that's after the exacting tasks of drafting, re-drafting, editing and proof-reading.
Q: What's next in the pipeline for you?
A: Some poetry. I know this won't sell but I want to bring together a lot of single poems that have appeared separately or in twos and threes. Then, later in the year, more fiction. I have something already completed in draft but it needs tidying up.