Reviewer Joseph Valentinetti: Joseph was born in New York City and lives in California. He is a writer, poet, interviewer & reviewer. He also produces Video Book Trailers and contributes various items to several online sources and forums. His dog will vouch for him, if needed.
Author: Terry J. Newman
Today, Joseph Valentinetti, one of bookpleasures.com's reviewers interviews Terry J. Newman author of Drayling. Terry lives with his wife in Sussex, England. He is a member of English Heritage, The National Trust, Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters' Club and Mensa. Here's a brief synopsis of his book. It is set in "Drayling", which is a small district in Southern 25th Century Britain. Its citizens lead extremely contented lives - until a change at the head of national government heralds a significant shift in approach - forcing a small group of ordinary people to conclude that they have no alternative but to take radical action to protect their way of life. This is their story.
Terry, What's the most overrated virtue?
Sincerity. You never know if it's real.
What is the one thing that other people always seem to get wrong about you?
They assume some emotion/agenda/motivation behind what I say, when all I'm trying to do is be objective and say exactly what I mean - no more, no less.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
What pet peeve do you have about other people?
I don't suffer fools gladly.
Is there any occasion when it’s OK to lie?
Yes. My wife is a congenital worrier. There are occasions (not frequent, thankfully) when I feel that bending the truth is the best option.
Discuss your philosophy of writing.
I want to get down on paper my thoughts exactly as I see them, and in such a way that the reader receives - and understands - them with the same precision. Sounds easy, but it isn't.
That doesn't sound easy at all. Try this question. Is your writing an art or craft or some combination of both?
A bit of both, I think.
Some art, some learned craft and much slog. Let me give you a bit of
background. I retired early - at the age of 50 - from an office job
that I hated, in order to write. As people do, I also made a "bucket
list" of everything I wanted to achieve in retirement.
addition to the usual family and travel stuff, and writing in
general, two of the more specific items were "become a member of
Mensa" and "write a full-length novel".
The first I
achieved in 2003, but the second took a little longer.At the
time, I don't think I contemplated much beyond simply wanting to
experience for myself the full process of writing one.
I was (and still consider myself to be) very much a novice.
I discovered all
sorts of "basic building block" stuff along the way -
notably that there is no "right way" to write a novel. It
soon became apparent to me that every author will write in a
different way. Some will use a pen, some will use a pencil. Some will
dictate and some will key into a lap top or word processor. Some will
create in short bursts, and others will slave for hours at a time. I
know these things now because, at various times in the process, I did
all of them.
I discovered that mood, inclination and determination
are significant factors, and that the tolerance of one's family is
hugely helpful (and much appreciated). Initially, I continued to
read and write other stuff, such as poems and short stories, but this
soon took a back seat as the novel became all-consuming. I found that
I didn't want distraction of any kind.
I finally finished it at the end of 2010 (well, abandoned it more like - I could go on tinkering with it forever), and it was published, in paperback, in March 2011. It has subsequently also become available as an ebook on Kindle as from March 2012.
If you could go back ten years and give yourself one piece of advice what would that advice be?
To be totally honest, I think it would be to do some more tinkering to the book. There are a few things that I would change with hindsight, but it's out there now, so that's it!
What’s the genre of Drayling?
The book sellers classify it as Science Fiction - so that they know what shelf to put it on. It's the most appropriate of their limited number of alternatives. However, it would be better described as "futuristic drama".
Who's the audience for this book?
Drayling can be read by anyone. There are no language, sexual or violence issues to worry about. However, it's specifically aimed at the intelligent adult.
What can you tell us about the characters in Drayling?
I've deliberately not been over-descriptive about the characters. I want the readers' relationship with each of them (hero and villain alike) to form in their mind's eye, as the story unfolds, in a way that’s unique to them.
Quote and comment on a passage from your book.
I'll not quote from my favorite passages, because they would reveal too much about the story for those who have yet to read the book. Here is a small snippet taken from the series of events that lead the protagonists to conclude that radical action is going to be necessary.
toiling for over two hours when Stin, who was having his rest turn,
suddenly hissed, “Stop digging!”
Hayden and Marius froze. Had they been discovered? They looked up at the silhouette of Stin against the sky.
“Listen!” he breathed.
In the still of the night, they could just detect a low, steady hum.
“What is it?” queried Marius.
“Do as I say, and don‟t ask questions,” demanded Stin, in a low and even voice. “Drop the tools and get out of the hole slowly and carefully. I‟ll explain it to you in a moment.”
The urgency in his voice was sufficient to make them do as he asked.
When they were standing beside the hole, he held out his IDS and whispered, “Look at this.”
The screen was flashing “IMMINENT DANGER.”
What surprising things did you learn while writing this book?
Apart from the basic "building block" stuff that I've mentioned already, there were a couple of occasions when a character said something, apparently out of the blue, that explained something that had happened or been said earlier, and which, up to that point, I hadn't really understood. It was quite spooky at the time, but it suggests that, throughout the entire process, my subconscious was beavering away, just below the surface, in parallel with my conscious efforts.
Where do you live and how does that influence your writing?
I live in England, in the county of Sussex, about 35 miles south of London. Drayling is set in Southern Britain, and my home county was certainly at the forefront of my mind when I was writing it. In fact, although it has no direct relevance to the story, there are twenty six "allusions to Sussex" incorporated into the book, in one form or another, just for fun. For example, "Drayling" is an anagram of ARDINGLY, which is the name of the village in which I was born and raised.
What do you do in your life aside from your novel?
My wife and I love to visit historic buildings and gardens, and I'm also a keen fan of the local soccer club, Brighton & Hove Albion. As a diversion, and when in more flippant mood, I like to write short doggerel verse about topical issues. Here an example:
We watch as
Russia's stricken sub
runs slowly out of air.
It seems there's no priority
to get them out of there.
The outcome, as expected,
is the loss of all the men.
They cared more for their country
than their country did for them.
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