Historical Fiction Novelist, John Broughton, is this week’s Author Interview guest.
John has published several novels.The most recent, Elfrid’s Hole, Book 1 of the Jake Conley series, just released at the end of October.
Thanks, John, for participating! And double-yuk for question # 17, you are a brave.
About Writing/Books/Being an Author
1. Do you remember the first book you read that had an impact on you – in what way and what was the name of that book?
I was too young. My granddad gave me an Illustrated history book and it was my constant bedtime companion from the age of four to about 9.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to write?
I didn’t really want to write at first. I did it because my children had consumed all the books in the children’s section of Glossop library. So, I started writing for them. Somewhere in that process, I began to acquire the enthusiasm.
3. Who is/are your favourite author(s)?
Crazy question. There are so many. I’d have to go by nationality and my own cultural preparation. If we’re talking British, I’d go for the poets: Keats, Byron, Wordsworth, Shelley and more up to date Seamus Healey. Italian: Pirandello, Italo Calvino. German: Hermann Hesse. Russian: Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Sholokov, Chekov. I’m still catching up with the classics and I’ve left out all the most modern writers, the French, the Americans – oh, how could I neglect Gore Vidal?
4. What is your favourite thing about writing? What is your least favourite thing about writing?
Favourite, that’s easy. I lose myself in another century and meet the people I choose to meet. Least favourite? Probably writing synopses.
5. Where do your ideas come from?
Either from research if it’s a pure historical fiction work or quite simply a moment’s flash of inspiration if it’s for my latest venture, the Jake Conley series.
6. I’ve often found that creative people have more than one talent, what is yours?
I enjoy photography but I wouldn’t say I’m talented. I can do great portraits of friends and fairly harmonious compositions. That’s the extent of it. I’d love to be more of a Renaissance man but sadly it’s not going to happen!
7. If you could jump inside a book for one day (as an observer) what book would it be?
It would be my own first historical novel, The Purple Thread because it covers the emergence of Christianity and its conflict with paganism in the eighth century in Western Europe. I’d love to observe those changes and meet and talk to the wonderful Leoba.
8. When you create characters, are they completely made up or do they resemble or remind you of people you know?
I don’t think you can escape from drawing on real life for authenticity. I’m lucky to have a wife I admire for her intelligence, sweetness and moral fibre. I drew heavily on her for Leoba but also for Cynethryth in my second novel.
9. Have you ever created a character “out of thin air” only to run into someone in real life that reminds you of that character either in personality or their features?
Oh dear, confession time! Jake Conley came out of thin air, but his psychic powers aside, I’m beginning to realise that he’s really me!
10. How do you come up with titles for your books?
With difficulty. Often, I don’t have a title until the end. My first title was obvious because it came from Leoba’s dream. Sometimes as with my work in progress, the working title threatens to become the actual one.
11. What are you working on now and can you tell us about it?
I’m working on Book 4 of my Jake Conley series. He’s a psychic investigator, which enables me to flit between the Anglo-Saxon period and today. It’s a load of fun to write, so I hope it’s fun to read. The first of the Jake Conley books, Elfrid’s Hole is due to be published at the end of October 2019 and the second, Red Horse Vale, at the beginning of January 2020.
12. Have you won any awards for your writing/books and if so what?
I’ve never entered my books for awards. That doesn’t help in winning them.
A Little More Personal
13. What is one thing you haven’t done but would like to do?
Visit Japan. I love their culture and enjoy reading Murakami.
14. Can you tell us about an embarrassing/funny moment?
Not really, I’m quite sensitive and tend to avoid embarrassment easily. Funny? Well, life is fun as well as us living in a vale of tears. There have been so many funny episodes but I’m not a comedy writer. I just try to enjoy life. Forgive me, I know a boring answer when I write one. You can see why Jake Conley is taciturn and meditative, can’t you?
15. Have you ever experienced something weird you could not explain?
Yes, I’ve seen a ghost and I’ve had premonitions. You can find some of them in my Jake Conley novels.
16. Are you superstitious? Do you have any rituals for good luck?
I have a little elephant under my computer and my name in Anglo-Saxon runes stuck on my monitor.
17. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
Sliced cold sheep’s brain in Turkey – sorry Turks, but yuk!
18. Do you have a favourite vacation spot? Where?
I suppose it would be a little bay on the Isles of Scilly, specifically St Agnes, where I used to live. I wrote my only two poems there. So, not strictly a vacation spot. Vacation? OK, the whole of Tuscany.
19. Can you tell us about one of your favourite childhood memories?
Yes, my granddad converting his handcart into a Roman chariot for me. Sadly, he died when I was seven.
20. What makes you happy?
When my wife smiles at me.
21. If you aren’t writing (or doing anything associated with writing), what are you doing?
Reading – or is that cheating? Or else, listening to music.
22. Have you ever met anyone famous – who?
Yes, the wonderful, incredibly modest John Patitucci, arguably the greatest living jazz bass player and composer. His family originate and still live in my Calabrian village. I couldn’t believe he wanted to know about me over dinner. Ridiculous!
Author of The Purple Thread; Wyrd of the Wolf; Saints and Sinners; Mixed Blessings; Die for a Dove; Perfecta Saxonia; Ulf’s Tale; Angenga; In the Name of the Mother and Elfrid’s Hole (now on Pre-Order).
The Purple Thread; Wyrd of the Wolf; Saints and Sinners and Mixed Blessings are now available on Amazon, published by Endeavour Media, one of the UK’s leading independent publishers of digital books.
Perfecta Saxonia, Ulf’s Tale, Angenga; In the Name of the Mother and Elfrid’s Hole are available from Amazon and published by Creativia/Next Chapter independent publishers of digital books worldwide.