By Auriel Roe
A composite comic novel; thirteen interconnected stories that take place over forty years. Its setting is Blindefellows, a second rate public school in the West Country
Friday, 15 March 2019
An Interview Avec Moi!
As part of my blog tour, I was interviewed by the New Zealand writer and book blogger Val Prozorova...
1. Congratulations on the release of Swine! This is your second book - was it less stressful going through the process with this one than it was with Blindefellows, or just as nerve-wrecking?
It was quite a cathartic book to write. I've been working in international schools for the bulk of my teaching career so I was brimming with weird stuff - place a group of western teachers in harsh environment and strange things happen. I had plenty of material to play around with! Because Swine is a single story taking place over 6 months from one point of view, it was a breeze to write - Blindefellows is multiple stories over 40 years so I had to keep checking on accuracy, time scales, etc.
2. Your books are connected, if subtly. Was that intentional or did it just happen organically?
I really liked the character of Randolph and his was one of my favourite stories in Blindefellows. I was keen to bring him to life again and this seemed a perfect environment - an overconfident, naive middle-aged man thrust into managing a brand new school in a totalitarian state. What could possibly go wrong?!
3. Life inspires art, right? Without naming names (if you don't so wish) even fictional ones, how accurate were the experiences your main character went through?
See answer 1
4. What was your favourite country to teach in, when you taught?
Pre-revolution Egypt. Egyptians (closely followed by Turks) are the friendliest people I've encountered - to each other as well as to foreigners. They also have a genuine interest in non-Egyptians and life beyond their country.
5. Reading both Blindefellows and Swine, I felt a distinct and delicious twang of Evelyn Waugh humor... was his work an inspiration to you? Which writers inspire you the most?
I haven't actually read any Waugh since I was a teen but guessing he must have been influential. My favourite book is Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm which I actually parody in Blindefellows in the chapter Cold Foot Farm about the protagonist's reluctance to get married to Yvonne. Writers whom I'm loving [at the moment] are George Orwell and Bruce Chatwin - revisiting since reading them in my teens and appreciating them much more. My next book is not going to be a comedy, at least, not of a big belly laugh out loud variety.
6. Do you get your best inspiration in the shower, or taking your dog for a walk?
I scribble stuff in a note book and see where the pen takes me. It's a weird alchemy I don't plan at all. Amazing what we harbour in our subconscious mind.
7. Was writing always on the cards for you, or were your stories an overflow from an exciting life and a sarcastic mind? Did you write down stories as a kid?
I was definitely into stories as a kid and it was the kind of play I did. I didn't plan on being a writer at all. It happened entirely by accident. I was staying in a loft flat in rural Germany in summer a few years ago during a heatwave. There was no air conditioning and I was far from any cafes to take refuge in. There wasn't even any internet so I sat in a cold bath and starting scribbling in a note book. I had woken up with a wild thought - What if a man in his 60s had his first ever crush? So it went from there... it tumbled out of the pen. I wrote a short story called A Droplet of Cream that was shortlisted for an international writing competition and was then fashioned into the last chapter of Blindefellows.
8. What's your ideal lazy-day food?
Probably reheated leftovers. I'm not really into cooking although I'm good at it. I tend to make a massive (vegetarian) lasagna or something then eat it over the next few days. So, I guess most days are lazy days when it comes to cooking.
9. Have you had any awesome experiences meeting your fans? Online or in person?
I've had some amazing reviews and have sometimes written to thank readers - which was how I had the pleasure to meet you! I was pleased with my writing and I enjoyed reading it - it was a new thrill for me. I didn't know if others would be excited by it so it's an added bonus that they are.
10. What's the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? It doesn't have to be related to your writing.
'There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.' Shakespeare
If you're a fan of writers like Evelyn Waugh, David Wong, or Gary Shteyngart, then you will really love Auriel Roe's novels. Check them both out on Amazon or BookDepository!
...and here's another lovely review from author Stevyn Colgan for day 6 of the blog tour which can be seen on Goodreads and Amazon... 'I loved 'A Blindefellows Chronicle' and dearly hoped that Roe's follow-up would be as good. And it is! At a time when the British comic novel is wallowing in the doldrums she has produced an absolute gem. Tristram Randolph is a glorious character (who should be played by a suitably befuddled young Ian Carmichael) who, I'm sure, has oodles more stories left to tell. A great and funny read. Onwards to Book 3!'