This week’s interview is with David T Procter, a former plumber turned writer from the South of England. His novel, Dead Men Lie, is a multi-genre tale that includes romance, murder and adventure.
Welcome, David. Can you tell us about yourself in 100 words? No more and no less.
Born into a working class family I grew up in a council house in the early sixties. Even then I knew I was different, but unlike my siblings I was denied a grammar school education, not through inability, but because the family money had all gone. Only in later years did I discover the rich tapestry my family has left me. It is their stories I use to build my tales. I am proud of my heritage proud and thankful for who they were, and what I became.
Why did you decide to become a writer?
I didn’t find writing, more like it found me. Having left school and become a self-employed plumber I was content to carry on perhaps until retirement. But for years, while under baths or scrabbling beneath floorboards, a story kept niggling away in the back of my mind. I didn’t do anything about it until one day a customer looked at an estimate I had prepared and said “you should write fiction this is pretty good.” That and a series of unforeseen circumstances involving a wife with deteriorating health issues gave me the kick I needed. My first attempt at writing was born but I soon discovered I had lost much of what my English teacher had drummed into me, so I enrolled in some creative writing courses. Even now I am still re-learning.
Tell us about your books.
My books are pure escapism; they have a beginning middle and end. I tried short stories but prefer the scope which the longer novel allows, the ability to develop characters and places. Forgotten Souls was my first book, a good story, badly edited and published far too soon. I removed it from sale, perhaps one day I will re-write it. I have at least six other books in draft form awaiting finalising so I am well stocked for many years to come. As for Dead Men Lie, my latest, that is something which I am most proud of (at the moment). It was born from an item I discovered while researching the family tree and just developed.
And tell us about the authors who inspire you.
I love anything military and historical, combine the two and I am happy for days, I read Clive Cussler, Bernard Cornwall, Douglas Reaman and lots of other authors. I enjoy any autobiography of those who have lived a long and interesting life and hate anything to do with pop stars or so called celebrities. I actually read and like all the Harry Potter books by J K Rowling. I also like some of the classics but unfortunately not Dickens, and I have read and enjoyed Homers Iliad
How did you feel when you first saw your book published?
Excited then frustrated. Forgotten Souls should have been better prepared; when I saw it I recognised my stupidity. Vanity had ruled my heart and since then I vowed no one would have control over my work. It was a salutary lesson to learn and an expensive one, now I control everything and so far, apart from one stupid error, it seems to be working out fine.
What are you working on at the moment?
Once Dead Men Lie is re-launched in June, then I have a prequel to complete and a family history for my granddaughter. I want her to know where the family originated from and to know her background which I didn’t. It took my own daughter to ask where does the name come from to force me to learn and I am eternally grateful to her for that encouragement.
What has been the highlight of your writing career so far?
That moment came about a year ago. It was pure theatre and so very self-indulgent but it made my wife cringe, and me chuckle at the absurdity. To understand the significance I have to tell you that Dead Men Lie was banned by my local council. Seems we infringed their strict moral code somehow, any way the local paper ran the story, we made the front page. Which explains why, while doing our monthly shop in a crowded supermarket, I was approached by a woman who asked for my autograph. Notoriety has never been so appreciated.
Is there any advice you would give to budding writers?
So much I could tell them. Firstly listen to your heart, if it feels right it most likely is. Secondly believe in everything you do even if it is proven to be wrong. Lastly trust no one, we have been ridiculed, almost destroyed and told so often that the book will never amount to anything that we no longer listen. Remember it’s your work; don’t let anyone detract you from what you first envisaged.
Describe your writing day.
I wake at about 4am, have at least three cups of tea, than work for a few hours before the house wakes. This involves answering e-mails, checking the web site and reprising the previous day’s work. If there is any time left I try and write at least a thousand words. Then, in the afternoon, I do the bulk of my writing and research. All in all, I aim to write at least four thousand words a day not all are used, most is either filed for future use or deleted, only a few nuggets of worth actually makes it into a story.
Social media seems to be playing a big part in the success of books these days. What are your thoughts on this and how active are you on various sites?
I have a web site, which works really well. While I am on facebook, twitter and Google+ Do these work? I am still debating that question. We all use them, but we all seem to gather on the same places, and lets be fair few authors buy other authors works or not in sufficient quantities. Do such sites attract readers? I think not but we have to be seen, perhaps one day, we will all get a chance of being front of house so to speak.
Every writer must dream of seeing the big screen version of their novel. Who would you like to see playing your lead characters?
Funnily enough we have discussed this at length. If the chance ever occurred I would have to choose English actors, some of whom may not be that well known. So for the Reverend Edward Bayles I would ask a fine character actor by the name of Philip Martin-Brown. I think he would give the character a lot of depth. Abigail Wood I would ask Michele Dockery best known for her role as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey, she is feisty but innocent at the same time. As for Benjamin Turnbottle I think another Downton actor would fit the role nicely he is Rob James-Collier who plays Thomas Barrow the under butler. These three would do my creations proud.
The world is ending and you are about to be blasted off into space – Bruce Willis style – to try and save mankind. You are allowed to take two people with you. Who do you choose?
I am too old to be jumping around saving anyone but Einstein and Benjamin Franklin would be interesting travelling companions.
If you could find out the answers to one of life’s great mysteries, which one would you choose?
I would love to know where all the shoe laces go to and if they share some third dimensional space with all the missing pens.
Share a personal fact about yourself that no one would know.
I play a mean Bass guitar, all self-taught.
You are on death row and it’s your final supper. What do you choose?
Hopefully I will never find myself there but if the fates decree I would not prolong the agony something light, an omelette perhaps then get it over with.
What would you do in life if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Being at the birth of my daughter. I escaped the other two occasions but the wife was determined I would experience it once at least.
Share one quote that keeps you going in life.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” Connected nicely to “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” From each end of man’s journey, rather poetic don’t you think.
Describe your perfect day.
Easy. A whole day with my darling granddaughter as she is now, innocent and full of life.
And the cliché question, four guests at your dinner party (dead or alive), who do you choose?
I know you expect names of great statesmen and politicians, writers or philosophers but I am going all sentimental. I would invite my mother who died far too young and missed my marriage and the births of her grandchildren. My five times great grandfather born in 1702 and to whom we all owe so much to. More importantly I would like to ask him where he was born and why he came to Sussex, information apparently lost. Lastly my dear departed gran so she could explain her side of the family to me far too complicated for a poor soul like me to unpick.
Find out more about David through the following links.
Blog site: https://www.blogger.com/home