Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The Writing Desk Blog.
Now, imagine I’m about to introduce you to an auditorium, filled with the smiling faces of folks fuelled by caffeine and an eagerness to learn. What would I say?
“Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce…
Tony Glover is the author of the Kitty Lockwood crime novels published by Cheshire Cat Books. He won the BBC North Playwright of the year award for his radio play, Just A Trim, which also won a Sony Award.
Here’s the part where we’d sit down and try and look comfortable next to the microphones. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
Can you name the business book that’s always on your desk? (I’m talking about the one that’s covered in pencil marks, coffee stains and has turned down corners…)
If I’m stuck with a problem of structure – then it’s The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.
What’s your all-time favourite advertising campaign?
It’s vintage but it’s the Leonard Rossiter/Joan Collins campaign for Cinzano Bianco.
“Everyone has a book in them…” Or so the saying goes. What do you think/know/believe is the secret to good writing?
Read a lot, write a lot. And immerse yourself in the world of the story : if it’s real for you, the reader will be able to see it too. Those are the moments when the ideas arrive faster than you can type. Rewriting too.
If you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself? Which book or books would you read first?
Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Ray Frensham. It’s all there.
Silence? Radio? Or music while you work?
I have a writing playlist – it’s almost all instrumental music. I can’t have two voices in my head at the same time! So music like the Miles Davis score to Lift to the Scaffold.
What are your top three novels of all time – and why?
True Grit by Charles Portis An engaging heroine in clear pursuit of a goal to avenge the death of her father – presented with obstacles she must overcome.
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy – story which breaks just about all the narrative rules in my first choice – we expect order to be restored, evil men caught brought to justice. None of that happens!
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. Her stories often play with and disrupt the ‘reality’ of a logical narrative – then she got into drugs and things turned really strange…What is real, what is fantasy? Can we trust the narrator, or are they lying or hallucinating? I also love her short story Don’t Look Now.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written? Why did it rock your world?
It was an episode in my book The Footsteps of the Hunter.
Young soldier called Jonty gets into a firefight in his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had joined up for idealistic reasons and then is presented with the reality of conflict. When you read a passage and forget that it was you who wrote it, it’s working.
What’s the last thing you bought? And yes, that packet of chewing gum counts.
I think that would be a skateboard. A gift for one of my grandchildren, not me. Though, come to think…
Who was your teenage crush?
A girl called Vicky Hobart. She looked like a teenage Sophia Loren and lived in the next road. I think she’s big in public health now. Not that I ever Googled her, or anything.
Can you describe the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
A plate of crab sandwiches which I ate in a pub on Holy Island.
What’s your favourite tipple? Is it wine, beer – a cask-aged malt?
A really good red wine.
If I were to give you a private jet, David Attenborough as a tour guide and a month off work – all expenses paid – where would you go and what or who would you write about – and why?
The Maldives. I’d like to write a crime novel set on a small island. Georges Simenon did it so well in My Friend Maigret, set on an island called Porquerolles, off the south of France.
What’s in your pockets?
A Swiss army knife (black): two acorns: debit card: £20 note: a propelling pencil.
Pen and ink, pencil and paper or keyboard and screen? What’s your writing style?
MacBook Pro laptop and a black floppy Letts 20/21 diary/notebook. I write on the laptop, jot down notes and ideas in the book which is next to it. Sometimes you just have to get away from a screen.
Do you read any blogs or magazines about writing? (And I mean read, not just subscribe to and delete/leave on your desk and recycle?)
Rarely. If I read blogs about writing I feel guilty that I’m not writing.
I visit the BBC Writers’ Room: glance at Good Reads.
I do follow a lot of writers on Twitter (Wendall Thomas, Michael Rosen) and there are books about writing I return to often – Into the Woods (John Yorke): Screenplay (Syd Field): On Writing (Stephen King).
Tea – or coffee? What’s your poison?
Tea. Ringtons. Milk, no sugar, thanks.
Do you have a favourite cup or mug? Can you describe it?
It’s a coffee cup I bought in France twenty years back. One of those huge ones. It’s like drinking a bucket of tea. Lovely.
What was your most adored children’s book? And character?
Moonfleet, by J.Meade Falkner. The hero was a lad of fifteen called John Trenchard who gets entangled with a gang of smugglers.
Falkner was from Newcastle. The story is gripping because while the hero is coping with present danger, there’s always something much worse hoving into view.
Your favourite word?
Your most loathed word? (You know, the one that makes you shudder and say “Ew!”?
Where can we find you? – Browsing online or lost in the aisles of a bookstore?
In normal times I’m in a bookshop. I love the scent of new books!
Favourite song lyric of all time? And why?
At the moment – today – it’s You Get What you Give by New Radicals. Insults delivered with a smile – it makes me smile too 🙂
Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson
Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson
You’re all fakes
Run to your mansions
We’ll kick your ass in!
Name the artist who is guaranteed to get you up on the dance floor.
The KLF. The guys who burned the million quid.
Do you have any strange writing rituals you’d like to share with us?
In my diary, I make a note of the time I start writing and the page number I’m on. At the end of the day, or whenever I stop, I do the same – time and page number. It gives realistic information on the progress I’m making, rather than my fantasy. A phrase which makes me laugh is ‘I’ve got to the point where the book is virtually writing itself.’
That never happens…
What are you working on today? What’s in the pipeline?
I’m writing the third draft of the fourth book in the Kitty Lockwood series of crime novels. It’s called The Hunger of Ravens. It comes from a Spanish saying, ‘raise ravens and they will feast on your eyes.’
A cheering thought…
Can you describe the last photograph you took?
A picture of a shining path dappled with sunlight which leads out of a dark wood. Metaphor?
What piece of advice really changed you as a writer?
It’s your job to tell a compelling story. Martin Scorsese.
The writer Robert Westall used to have children read his work – if they got bored or confused over something he would cut it.
What was the last thing you wrote that had nothing to do with your job?
I was commissioned to write a piece about the Tyneside riots in the 90s, to go with an exhibition by the artist and musician Jimmy Cauty.
What’s your favourite quote about the process of writing?
In my twenties, I went on a writing course taught by HW Sutherland. He said ‘Writing a novel is like trench warfare.’ He was right. Every word, every small move forward has to be fought for.
Who is your favourite Mad Man – or Woman?
Can you name your favourite film – and tell us why you love it?
I think, because it’s by Nicolas Roeg and because I see something new in it every time I watch, it would have to be Don’t Look Now.
Which book or books is/are by your bed today?
The Hard Stuff by Wayne Kramer, the guitarist with the MC5. His music career stalled and he drifted into crime and was jailed for selling drugs. He survived and, when he came out, started the Jail Guitar Doors program to develop music and art in prison.
Who was or is your greatest teacher?
My history teacher, Hugh Dillon (father of the writer Peter Dillon). He always encouraged and praised my writing. To have a teacher who thinks what you create is worthwhile is such a joy.
Who is your favourite artist?
Caravaggio – very cinematic. Lovely chiaroscuro lighting but a terrible, terrible man.
Where do you like to work best – is it at a desk, in an office, or in a coffee shop? And would you send us a picture of where the magic happens?
I work at my desk in a room at the top of the house.