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Thursday, 30 April 2015

An Interview with Rachel Connor

I am excited to announce the release date for Tying Down The Lion is June 15, which was the day in 1938 when the newspapers announced Hitler's great plans for Berlin to become the 'centre of culture and civilisation.' Connected to his own palace by a covered passage, a huge 'People's Hall' would be constructed, although in truth he envisioned it as a massive temple to National Socialism. It would even have its own weather - the breath and sweat of its 150,000 occupants creating precipitation in the lofty dome.

Of course his project never came to fruition. There was no 'People's Hall', no 'Avenue of Splendours', no Germania. Instead, a few years later, Berlin was reduced to a heap of rubble. And sixteen years after that, with the city beginning to recover, came the Wall.

Tying Down the Lion takes place in 1967, six years after the Wall was built, and captures life for ordinary, war-weary people on both sides, as observed by a young English girl with her own project to complete. The novel is the result of a short story I wrote years ago that touched on the plight of the city from the somewhat incongruous setting of a pebble-dashed semi in an English suburb. I was intrigued by this odd juxtaposition of a family motoring in their Morris Traveller from such an inconsequential, anonymous little town into this huge, jumbled metropolis.

My writing often focuses on contrasts - the joy that so often cuts through sorrow, the humour that laces through tragedy and the ordinary within the extraordinary. Tying Down The Lion is no exception.

Novelist, dramatist and prize-winning short story writer, Rachel Connor, has kindly interviewed me about the book - and about my writing in general - on her website.

Rachel, who is also an editor for the renowned literary consultancy, Cornerstones, read an earlier draft and gave me an invaluable report on plot, structure, characterisation and all other vital facets of building a book, which led me out of the wilderness and toppled the barriers blocking the novel's essence.

After laying some lacklustre characters to rest and tightening the narrator's grip on the proceedings, I began to see the wood for the trees. I would unreservedly recommend a consultation like this. It was only once I had read the report and talked to Rachel at length that I could step back and see the potential of that first draft that I had - horrifyingly - presumed was a finished novel. In truth, the real, thrilling work was just about to begin.