What do you write? Why this in particular?
I write low key literary fiction, literary because it’s character based and ‘low key’ because it’s very accessible and usually about ordinary people with whom readers can readily relate.
What got you started on writing in the first place?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but until I retired my subject matter was that of business reports, plans, PR articles, minutes of meetings, and so on. When I stopped work I took a degree in Fine Art and hugely enjoyed the dissertation: for the first time I was writing about subjects I loved. I also wrote a couple of short stories at that time and my tutor put me in touch with the Creative Writing Progamme at New Writing South in Brighton. I learnt a lot, enough to start writing seriously.
Do you have a particular routine?
No. I should have, but I don’t have the discipline or determination to set aside a regular time and place to write. Inevitably writing gets done ‘when I have the time’. That works when I’m on holiday, but not back at home. Perhaps the solution is to go on holiday more often, and for longer.
That sounds like a good idea! Do you have a dedicated working space?
No. I usually scribble the first draft in an A5 notebook and this can be done anywhere, sat in the lounge, in a train, in bed, on the beach, in the garden. I type the scribbles into a laptop, editing as I go, in effect generating the second draft. Usually the laptop is on the dining table, since it’s central to whatever is going on in the house, but of course this is an error, I should make a dedicated space in another room where I would be undisturbed.
When did you decide you could call yourself a writer? Do you do that in fact
I don’t. I say I draw and paint a bit, and write a bit. However, the experience of being published is changing my attitude, and if, as I hope, I take a more professional approach to writing from hereon in, I will be pleased and proud to call myself a writer.
How supportive are your friends and family? Do they understand what you're doing?
My wife, Chris, who died three years ago, was incredibly supportive, and was always encouraging me to write more and to go on courses and enter competitions. My family and friends are very supportive also.
Do they understand what I am doing? It depends. I think it was Ian McEwan who said it was difficult to persuade some people that he was working when he was sat staring out of the window for long periods of time.
In terms of practical (as well as emotional) support, I am very lucky to be a member of a small group of writers who meet monthly to review and critique our work. Their input to my work is like rain falling on parched earth. They are immensely talented and – I am sure – will all be published. We call the group, ‘Leaving the Waiting Room’ for obvious reasons.
What are you most proud of in your writing?
I’m proud to have created characters and situations which are sufficiently realistic to be believable and from which morals can be drawn. Hopefully they both entertain and make people think. Obviously I’m proud to have written something which someone else (who knows about these things) thinks is worth publishing. And I’m proud to be doing something useful with my time and exposing my ideas to a wider audience.
How do you get on with editing and research?
I quite enjoy ‘line editing’, there’s something calming and therapeutic about it after the effort of creating, but I don’t enjoy re-writing because when you have already struggled to find the best way of expressing something or dealing with a particular aspect of the plot, or of characterisation it is very difficult to construct a better alternative. The editorial guidance and advice from Bridge House (thank you Hannah) was wonderful, both very insightful and understanding.
Do you have any goals for the future?
Yes. I aim to finish two novels.
The first, titled Bite Back set in Brighton in the early 2010’s, is a very dark and violent tale of revenge, and is as good as finished, but needs some changes made to the ending, so I must make one more (last) draft, and then try to get it published.
The second is a story of love found and lost and then found again, and is set in London in the 1960’s and Ireland in 2010. The first half is nearly complete, and the second half has still to be written. I will be very proud if I manage to finish it and get it published; it is loosely based on a marvellous true story, it could (will) make a fine opera..
Which writers have inspired you?
In no particular order:
Ian McEwan, Elena Ferranti, William Trevor, Cormac McCarthy, Raymond Carver, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Anthony Doerr, Ernest Hemingway, Joyce Carol Oates, William Boyd, Kazuo Ishiguro, William Wharton, H E Bates.
William's collection Angels and Devils is published by Bridge House.