Saturday, 23 February 2013

A Very British Blog Tour (#VBBT2013)

I'm British, definitely. Very British? Probably, despite having lived abroad for the last 10 years. And I'm a writer, one who has just started out on the road to fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, I thank you all. Sorry, his lyrics were so good that they have a way of intruding on my thoughts.

A first

Back to this Very British Blog Tour. It's my first blog tour and probably the first of many many more to come. I don't really have the time for it (I should be writing my 15 books!) and I'm not really at the stage of my new career to really need it (I have but one humble offering out there). However, I've joined it because I need the experience of blog tours and I really like the sound of the Britishness of it.


It was all started by Paul Anthony. The idea was that a British author has to answer six specific questions which are then posted on his/her blog, although the amount seems to have double since then! This author then invites other British authors to do the same, and as they answer the same questions their responses are linked to at the bottom of the original post. Thanks to Rosie Amber for her invite which is the reason for this post. Got it all? Good, neither do I, but keep reading and it'll all fall into place.

The questions

1. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?

I was born in the city of Derby, England and bought up in the small market town of Uttoxeter. I now live in Spain.

2.  Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?

I left Uttoxeter when I was eighteen, suffering from claustrophobia. I joined the military and spent the next six years based in Tidworth, a military garrison in Hampshire. From there I was sent to Belize, Mexico, Germany, the Falkland Islands and Cyprus. My posting there achieved its goal - for me to see a bit of the world.

Shakespeare's school, Stratford
After the army I moved to Cambridge, a beautiful university town in the East of England. I spent the next twelve years there as a police officer, before walking away to become an English teacher in Spain. (I also happened to buy a house in Brazil).

3. Which is your favourite part of Britain?

Ooh, that is such a difficult question. Despite being such a small island, the UK has so many places of outstanding natural beauty along with towns and cities steeped in history. I particularly love Cornwall, with its tiny fishing villages beautifully preserved (not to mention their delicious Cornish Pasties and Creamed Teas!).

London is a place I can never tire of. Now that I live abroad I really miss my weekends in London - there is always something new to discover or stumble upon. It has to be one of the greatest cities in the world.

But quite possibly - if pushed - I'd have to say the Lake District, a national park in the north west of England (just above Liverpool). It's where I spent my second honeymoon and is one of the most beautiful places in the UK. Not only is it likely that any visitor will be blown away by its beauty, but one can always visit the Poet Laureate William Wordsworth's house, along with Hill Top Farm, the home of Beatrix Potter (who loved the place so much that she bought up most of the land to protect it from development, bequeathing it to the nation in her will).

"... and then my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils."

William Wordsworth

4. Have you highlighted or showcased any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?

My series The Rozzers is a true-life memoir of my time in the police based in Cambridge (although in the books the town is called Oxbridge). I don't really identify the city to help protect myself from possible libel!

London City, where tiredness takes a backseat
Another series I have started to write (working title Dover Lord) is based on Dover Castle (the key to England), as a group of survivors meet there following the demise of civilisation as we know it. Interestingly, I have yet to visit the castle!

The Humptybackcrocodillopig lives in East Anglia, and can be found at the bottom of my old home just outside of Cambridge (childrens' series), along with the Owlbatross and other strange animals.

My magnus opus, The Dream Makers (a six-book serious of high fantasy) sees the protagonist make his way to a stone circle in Wiltshire - not the current Stonehenge. He sees what was constructed there 25,000 years earlier, and why it was constructed.

5. There is an illusion - or myth if you wish - about British people that I'd like you to discuss. Many see the Brits as 'stiff-upper lipped'. Do you think that is correct?

View from London Eye;
I didn't see the 'people' at the time of photo
One of the greatest things about leaving Britain is that you get a greater perspective on the country and its people, as well as learning what other nationalities have to say about us.

For some reason, the British carry a lot of stereotypes and garner a lot of opinions from other cultures, most of which is utter twaddle. Unfortunately, we are responsible for much of it. No, British food is not terrible: it was - 40 years ago - but life moves on. (Trust me, the British food revolution is coming to a town near you.)

I think the Brits vary just as much as any country of 90 million people do, and generalising does not work. What I mean is: whilst the older generation are generally 'keep-your-distance-or-I-might-catch-something', the youngsters are very continental kissy-cheeky. Brits apparently don't learn other languages, yet most of my work colleagues speak two or three other languages (I can get by in Spanish and understand Portuguese fairly well). The list goes on.
Windsor Castle, along the avenue

What the Brits do have in common is: a love of alcohol (we can't have fun without it); a love of varied food; a love of pets over their own children and an incredible ability to produce great music (do you know that in 2012, British artists accounted for 12.5% of ALL world music sales?).

Stiff-upper-lip? I think we are tough, having lived through the depravity of the 2nd world war when we stood alone against Hitler, and we don't like whingers or weaklings. It's tough, but I'd rather you didn't make a fuss, there's a good chap.

6. Do any of your characters carry the 'stiff-upper-lip', or are they all 'British Bulldog' and unique in their own way?

Absolutely not! My characters are based on real people I have had the good fortune to meet in my life - real people with real feelings and issues, both British and foreign. James Bond has moved on from that, so must we!

Changing of the Guard, Windsor Castle

7. Tell us about one of your recent books.

I am writing (somewhere in the region of) fifteen books in total, but have only epublished one so far. End of the Road is a short story (15,000 words) and part one of The Rozzers, a five-part series based on my life as a UK cop. I have been amazed with the success of my humble offering so far; it spent 18 days at #1 on (Law Enforcement) and hit #8 in the UK for memoirs. It is currently free but you'll be expected to pay out for the next book (Cops Don't Run) which will be released in the next few months!

8. What are you currently working on?

Cops Don't Run is my focus at the moment. After the success of part one, I really want to get this one out there and earning some pennies! It's on its 2nd draft and will shortly be sent out to beta-readers for their opinions. Then I must turn my attentions to book 3 in the series as well as my first stand-alone novel, Filthy.  
Filthy tells the story of an English teacher out here in Spain who gets a job listening into phone-tappings of British gangsters on the Costa del Sol on behalf of the Spanish police. It all goes wrong when he heads down to the coast to where the operation's targets live.

9. How do you spend your leisure time?

That's an easy one to answer - I don't have any! My wife and I have been running our own business out here in Spain for the last year and a half. It is growing and we are very pleased with it but it takes up all of our spare time! For example, in the next few months we are moving into newer, bigger premises. It's great to see it doing so well but spare time? If I do get any, I write and try to stay off the Twitter and everything else that indie-authors need to progress, which is difficult.

The Lake District

10. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?

I write for anybody who can read English! We're living in exciting times, there has never been a better time than now to be an author. My books will appeal to any British person, no matter where they might live. Filthy will appeal to English teachers around the globe, as much of it will hold true to the experience of those intrepid ex-pats in various, far-flung places as they try and teach students our much loved English language.

The Dream Makers will appeal to fantasy fans everywhere, or anybody who has a passing interest in our dreams and why we have them.

My audience is global, you can be sure of that.

11. Can you provide links to your work?

I wouldn't be much of an author if I couldn't! Here goes (deep breath) ...
Now, from what I understand I need to invite other British authors to do the same as me (I've invited three so far - as soon as they respond, I'll link to them below). If you are a Britauth and would like an invite, please leave your details and request in the comments section below.

First to respond is Deborah C Foulkes, a Yorkshire-based writer (click name to see her answers).

Thank you for reading this far!


(not yet proof-read)

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