Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’m welcoming John to the tearoom.
Thank you for invite me, Paula.
You’re welcome, John. My first question is when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I’ve always liked historical fiction, and subsequently historical romance. This even more so when I discovered that I had a family tree that was FULL of interesting people. No money, sadly – just “interesting people”
Just by way of illustration, my great great grandfather and his brothers helped open up Australia. 1 brother, Edward Dumaresq, was the world’s oldest magistrate when he died, he was still sitting at 103, in Tasmania. The family still have the farm there (Mount Ireh) and I’ve been fortunte enough to go there. Amazing place!
His eldest brother, Lt Col Henry Dumaresq, was wounded at Waterloo. He went out to Australia as the Governor’s Military Secretary, and opened up the Hunter Valley. Sadly, he was running sheep rather than growing vines! The musket ball lodged in his back killed him in 1836, 21 years after the battle.
Another Great Great Grandfather was the last Purser of the Botallack Mine at St Just (the Poldark mine)
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
Research. I love it, and a good nose for a story. That really helps. I wish I could manage my time better, though.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
My latest project is the story of my Gt GtGtGt Grandmother, who left her husband to go and live in London, and fell in love with a young Jewish moneylender! (NOT your traditional Fagin or Shylock!) They racketed around Europe and lived on borrowed money and gambling.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?Only 1 more. I spent a couple of years in the Solomon Islands some 30 years ago. Where is that I hear you ask. Look at Australia; then up and to the right a bit. A crazy place to live and work.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter or let the characters lead you?
Synopsis first. I have a background in Quality Assurance so do tend to plan things out to the Nth degree – and then change everything anyway!
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
Georgette Heyer. Still the absolute doyenne of historical romance. SO accurate in her research and writing that at least 2 of her books were in the library as Textbooks at Sandhurst.
Bernard Cornwell. A great teller of tales. I got into the Sharpe books when they first came out, and enjoyed them even more when I found out that my Gt Gt Grandfather had fought at most of the same battles!
Rudyard Kipling. Another great story teller. Several generations of my family lived and fought in India, too.
JRR Tolkein The fantasy writer we all wish we could be.
Jane Austen. Being of a nautical background, Persuasion remains my favourite.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
No, not really an issue.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
All of them! See above LOL
What did you learn when writing your book. In writing it, how much research did you do?
Masses of research, and I’ve been working on my family tree for over 50 years.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I do like to think that what you see is pretty well what you get. LOL
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books, whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc.
Not really. I found out about writing, though – that its bloody hard work, and that it’s a skill or craft that must be learnt and practiced.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Real life tends to intrude more and more as the years pass. If the muse is in a good mood, I can write for hours. At other times, I wont even manage a full stop.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
How many hours in a day do you write?
Anything from 0 to 15. See para 12 above.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes, and I wish I had – in that sales may have been better. The problem was, I had such a large and so active a social media presence, it would have been too hard to “change horses in midstream”
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Most of my names are historical. If I need names for secondary characters, I will use birth, marriage and death records from the place and period.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The first! Like many authors I wrote the first few chapters, and then realised I actually needed to throw them away and start at Chapter 4.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
If you would like to find out more about John’s writing click on the links below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.