Author’s interview – 2017. Diana talks to... Robert Southworth
Hi Rob, lovely to chat with you like this. We have lots to talk about so let's get going! Hopefully I have come up with some unusual questions!
If your latest book The Reaper’s Breath was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
Luke Evans but he would have to do it with an English accent.
What made you choose this genre?
I don’t consider myself as a specialist in a certain genre. I am happy to move genres when I find an idea presents itself.
How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
To be honest usually I look at history and ask myself the question “what if?” What if Spartacus didn’t die – what if the Ripper killings didn’t stop with Mary Kelly. Just one further point with regards to The Reaper’s Breath, I wanted to show the victims as more than just a statistic. I attempted to give at least one a voice and show her to be human with the same dreams, hopes and fears that we all possess.
If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
I would love to write a fantasy book with the kind of genius humour that Terry Pratchett blessed the world. I have a plot for a fantasy novel but not the humour. Alas, I just don’t have that sort of talent. (Note from Diana: I think you have that sort of talent, Rob. Try it! I love your quick fire responses on social media)
Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
I was actually made redundant. Feeling a little like I had been thrown on the scrap heap. My wife saw my torment and just placed her arm around me and asked what it was, that I really wanted to do. So, at the age of 38 I became a writer.
Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
I can only write late at night when the entire household is asleep.
I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
Family. probably because my kids are so young. As they get older they will be able to fend for themselves, and the writing can take over.
Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Coffee – don’t drink wine (but do like a drop of Irish whiskey now and then)
How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
I believe a story should develop along with the characters, so I begin with a very basic plot. My style is to be as fluid as possible. (It really works. D )
If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
Really have no preference as long as the font isn’t too severe.
Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
Well I’m hoping to write a novel around the life of Athelstan – so anything relating to the man would be amazing.
Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
Not their own adventure but one of my characters from my Spartacus series should have died in the part of the first novel and was still alive and kicking at the end of the last – despite me planning to kill him a number of times! (I am not published and most likely never will be but I write for my own pleasure. I have a character, Piet, who has needed to die for at least a year, but I cannot kill him. I just cannot!! D)
How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
I tend to research as I go along. I would love to go on research trips alas with a young family that is not too likely at the minute.
Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
Not really, I see real characters as a bond that anchors the story. Besides, as soon as we put words in their mouth they become part fiction.
Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
I may bend the truth but try not to break it...
Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
I happen to believe that history provides us with very little fact. Most of what you read is educated guess work. I’m a fiction writer it’s my job to blur fact into fiction. If I do it well, the reader shouldn’t be able where one ends and the other begins.
Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
Many times – they are in essence part of me.
What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Pretty much anything except Romance and Erotica.
What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
Well I have attempted to make it atmospheric with a couple of shocks – so maybe nothing too hot.
Last but not least... favourite author?
Two - Terry Pratchett and James McGee
This has been really interesting, Rob. Thank you.
|The man himself!|
© Diana Milne January 2017 © Robert Southworth January 2017