Welcome to A VERY BRITISH BLOG TOUR 2013 – a collection of blogs, books and authors who are surprisingly very British.
Author Clive Eaton has invited me, and a hand picked group of British authors, to take part in ‘A Very British Blog Tour’ by visiting and supporting the websites of authors involved in the tour, and who are dedicated to turning out some of the finest books available in Britain today. Each author, named at the bottom of the page, has been asked the same questions, but their answers will obviously all be different. You merely click on the author’s name at the bottom of the page to see how they have answered the same questions.
So here we go
Q. Where were you born, and where do you live at the moment?
I was born in Lambeth Hospital in London in 1949. My mother recently sent me her diary of that year in which I read that I was born at 9.30 a.m and my father turned up at 7 p.m. after doing a full day’s work. I don’t think he was callous, that just how it done in those days. I now live in the historic city of York.
Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based somewhere else at the moment?
When I was a young teacher I lived and worked in Sweden for a couple of years. Apart from that I’ve always lived in the UK.
Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
Hm. Well there are lots of beautiful places in Yorkshire but I spent a lot of my childhood in Devon and Cornwall which are much more beautiful, in my opinion. Devon has lovely rolling hills and moors, and I used to enjoy sailing in the Exe estuary, but I also love the north coast of Cornwall, where there are long beautiful beaches and you can go surfing – I love that.
Q. have you ‘highlighted or showcased any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or a city; a county, a monument of some well-known place or event?
My legal thrillers in the ‘Trials of Sarah Newby ‘ series are all set in or around York, where I live at the moment. You can see the Crown Court in York on the cover of two of them, and my heroine Sarah Newby grew up on a tough council estate in Leeds before moving to York.
I’ve also published a historical novel, The Monmouth Summer, which is set very precisely in the West Country – Devon and Somerset, mostly – and is as historically and geographically accurate as I can make it. I used to live near all of these places and knew them quite well, and the story is about the lives of ordinary people from thee caught up in a rebellion of 1685.
I’ve also written two historical novels set in Ireland – one mostly in Dublin, the other in and around Belfast. Not Britain, exactly, but at the time of the events in the stories it was definitely part of the United Kingdom. (Still is, in Ulster)
Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish – about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the Brits as ‘stiff upper lip’ Is that correct?
I was always deeply puzzled by that expression. I know what it means, of course, but what has your ‘upper lip’ got to do with whether you show emotion or not? I mean, your upper lip doesn’t move if you cry, does it? Or have I missed something here? If it was about your lower lip and keeping your mouth shut it would make a bit more sense.
Anyway, that aside., I don’t think it’s as common today as it used to be. People who lived through the Second World War, for instance, seem to be to have been amazingly stoical, putting up with all sorts of terrible things without showing much emotion. But I remember the death of Princess Diana – a quite bizarre national outpouring of grief in which people who had never ever met Diana seemed devastated. The person who showed the ‘stiff upper lip’ was the Queen – and look how much trouble she got into for it. ‘She doesn’t care’ people said, ‘she’s cruel, she’s cold.’ Rubbish; she was just meeting the event with calm and dignity, the way she always has. But times have changed, and that approach is out of date.
Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
Hm. Sarah Newby shows emotion, but she’s pretty tough, too. You probably have to be, in her job, as a barrister.
Q. Tell us about one of your recent books?
My most recent book was Nobody’s Slave – a historical novel about the Elizabethan slave trade. It tells the story of two boys – one African and one English and it is based around the true events of Sir John Hawkins’ slave-trading voyage of 1568. It’s based on original sources and as accurate as I can make it, but the main characters are fictional, of course and it tries to be an exciting adventure story which portrays how it would really feel to have lived through these events.
Q. What are you currently working on?
I’m writing a fourth Sarah Newby novel. I haven’t got very far yet, though.
Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
Well, I’d like to say I use it keeping fit, but as I get older I get lazier too. I used to run a fair bit – I ran the Great North Run four or five times, and the London Marathon once – but today it’s more like a brisk walk with my two dogs through the woods, or a swim. I joined a gym last autumn and promptly injured my leg, so I’m currently visiting the physio for a massage twice a week – does that count?
Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
Without doubt a global audience. I hope my books appeal to a wide audience around the World. I write for anyone who wants to read my books.
Q. Can you provide links to your work?
Certainly. Just click on one of the Amazon links below.
I’ve invited the following British, not necessarily British-based, authors to join in the fun. Once they’ve agreed, and set up their own answers on their respective websites/blogs, then clicking on their name will take you there.
Peter C Bradbury
If you would like to join the Tour, here is a link to the Tour host, Clive Eaton.