I am very pleased to have as my guest Geoff Le Pard. Geoff is one of these writers who can have me gasping for breath after a long series of belly laughs. His humorous approach to most subjects is appreciated by his loyal followers and by me. Geoff is introducing a new book and I jumped at the chance to interview him today. We’ve decided to do the interview in his beautiful garden outside of London. So with that introduction let’s get to my first question.
Geoff some of my readers are big fans and some still need an introduction. How would you introduce yourself to those who are not familiar with your work?
For those who don’t know me, I’m an outwardly sixty-something Brit (Inside, I’m still in my late teens, wondering what life has in store), residing in one of London’s villages some five miles to the south of the Capital’s centre. In those six and a half decades, I have stopped: being self-conscious; practicing as a lawyer (you can only practice for so long before you realise you’re not getting any better); attempting consecutive cartwheels (now its single cartwheels and time spent in traction); being embarrassed by my hair; believing I should try and be politically correct; expecting to be called up to play cricket for England; buying new suits and wearing ties, save to hold up trousers; and weighing myself. In that same period I have started: writing in all styles and genres; volunteering; practising as a parent (unlike the law, you have to keep practising); baking with increasing competence; a deep continuing love affair with both my wife and Dog; a no doubt lifelong relationship with my lawn; nightly excursions to the bathroom; ballroom and Latin American dancing (I can waltz but I’m still one cha sort of the full set); and a determination to go green, though, I hope, not because of a creeping stasis that leaves me susceptible to developing mould. I find pleasure in small things (and I will leave the smutty amongst you to run with the obvious double entendre), inspiration in the opaque and opulent alike, and I have developed a firm belief that nowadays I need little stuff and loads of new experiences, which post Covid I intend embracing with the grip of an anaconda and the lack of embarrassment of my great aunt Ruby, whose attempts to offer free hugs to all and sundry in her small village were received, mostly, with delight, save for those few who were allergic to lavender. I can’t stand grapefruit or marmite, Tintin and Paddington Bear remain my heroes and in the eleven general elections since I was eligible to vote, I have put my cross next to all the main political parties at least once as well as spoiling my ballot though a poorly timed sneeze and voted for the Monster Raving Loony party merely to irritate my father. I am blood type A+ which annoyingly makes me very common.
I love the items that you have stopped and admire those you have continued. Do you have a writing routine and if so would you care to share it?
Impulse driven would be the best way to describe it; nearly every day, when I wake I have it firmly at the front of my mind to settle down to some serious writing time, before the events of that day overwhelm me and it’s 7pm and I’m digesting dinner. I suppose my most productive time is from then until any time up to 1 am – yep, a night owl – but it doesn’t happen every day. Sadly.
The idea of hitting placing in your mind the idea that you will get serious writing done is something we all should do. What has been your most satisfactory writing experience so far?
There isn’t just one. Meeting some like-minded people and sharing our experiences on various writing courses always leaves me energised. Each time a book goes live is a great feeling. Realising a complete stranger has chosen to read one of my books and commented on it is one of the best; and if they enjoyed it, better still.
I share your feelings about the writing community and a new book launch which is a nice segway into my next question. You are introducing a new book The Art Of Spirit Capture. Can you tell us a little about how you came to that title?
I joined in a regular weekly prompt that the late Sue Vincent started called writephoto. This particular week, she published an image of a Christmas glass bauble through which the Christmas lights had refracted into a myriad of rainbows. The idea that came to me was what if these weren’t just inert glass pendants but had somehow captured the spirit of a dying person, releasing a little of that spirit each Christmas to enhance the lives of the bereaved loved ones. That 500 word short piece was called Spirit Capture. When I decided to expand from that to this novel, the title grew too. Literary inflation, huh!
I think we all have had literary inflation at one time or another. Is this book different from those you have written and if so what makes it different?
It is different. It is a romance/mystery/modern fantasy with magical realism notes. Is that a genre? It is now, I suppose. My last novel (Walking Into Trouble) was a buddy mystery with adult themes around loyalty and friendships and what happens if you test them to destruction. A recent reviewer called it a sex mystery which is a bit of a stretch but there is a certain amount of unfaithfulness in it. I’ve also written novels that cover: a comedic coming of age story set in 1976 (Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle) and then followed the characters as their lives moved on, dipping back in, in two more instalments set 1981 (The Last Will of Sven Andersen) and 1987 (Booms and Busts) -my next book will probably be the next instalment, set in 1997; a contemporary thriller exploring corruption, politics and religion (My Father and Other Liars); another adult book that focuses on the destructive nature of homelessness and displacement (Salisbury Square); a four way contemporary piece of lives interacting and fracturing (Buster and Moo); I’ve managed three anthologies of short fiction (Life, in a Grain of Sand; Life, in a Flash; and Life, in a Conversation), a memoir about me and my mother between my father’s death and hers (Apprenticed to My Mother); and a book of poetry (The Sincerest Form of Poetry)
A very impressive body of work Geoff which brings to mind who would you consider an inspiration to your writing and why?
That sort of depends on what I’m writing. In comedy, it is probably Sue Townsend, Helen Fielding, and Tom Sharpe; contemporary writing and it would be Graham Swift, Neil Gaiman, and Ian Banks. Poetry and it’s Roger McGough, Wendy Cope, and Carol-Ann Duffy. Not sure about memoir…
Who is your favorite character in The Art of Spirit Capture and why?
It’s probably Charlotte ‘Lotte’ Taylor, the woman who the main protagonist Jason (we see the unfolding story through his eyes) realises at the end of chapter one he will have to deal with, and yet his memories of her, from their childhood are far from pleasant. She doesn’t realise how he feels, nor do we know what she’s thinking, but she plays an important part in helping, both wittingly and unwittingly Jason to deal with a lot of his history. It was a challenge to make her more than just a trigger for Jason’s developing arc and a character with her own complex yet consistent backstory. She’s a lawyer too, so it’s nice to be able to make them a bit of a hero for once!
It is fascinating that you would pick someone other than your protagonist as your favorite. What are you most proud of regarding The Art of Spirit Capture?
I could be glib and say finishing it! But in fact most of my longer works have either been comic or with tough elements and adult themes. To write something that is life affirming without being either trite or digging out the funnies has been a real challenge for me and I like to think I’ve succeeded with this book.
I think it is admirable that you have ventured into a new challenge. What would you like readers to say about your work behind your back?
The most important things are that it makes sense, the plot hangs together, the characters are believable and the ending isn’t flat. I’m not very tolerant of writers who leave gaping holes in the plot or who create characters who are all good or all bad (unless for comic effect). And I dislike books that end with me feeling ‘is that it?’ I try very hard to avoid those traps. I can’t expect my readers to like my story, or the genre: that’s a very personal matter, but they can, rightly, expect the techniques I’ve applied to be to as high a standard as I can make them. Otherwise, it’s too easy for them to be contemptuous of Indie authors and the standards we set ourselves.
I’ve enjoyed chatting Geoff, but now it is time to let my readers know a little more about the book and where they can buy it. Thanks again for having me here at your place and good luck with The Art of Spirit Capture.
I’ve enjoyed it, John. Thank you for having me on your blog.
Jason Hales is at his lowest ebb: his brother is in a coma; his long-term partner has left him; he’s been sacked; and Christmas is round the corner to remind him how bad his life has become.
After receiving an unexpected call telling him he’s a beneficiary of his Great Aunt Heather’s estate, he visits the town he vaguely recalls from his childhood, where his great aunt lived. Wanting to find out more, he’s soon sucked into local politics revolving around his great uncle’s extraordinary glass ornaments, his ‘Captures’, and their future.
While trying to piece his life back together, he’ll have to confront a number of questions: What actually are these Captures and what is the mystery of the old wartime huts where his uncle fashioned them? Why is his surly neighbour so antagonistic? Can he trust anyone, especially the local doctor Owen Marsh and Charlotte Taylor, once a childhood adversary, but now the lawyer dealing with the estate? His worries pile up, with his ex in trouble, his flat rendered uninhabitable and his brother’s condition worsening. Will Christmas bring him any joy?
Set in the Sussex countryside, this is a modern novel with mystery, romance and magic at its core, as well as a smattering of hope, redemption and good cooking.
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
His other books
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.
The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015
Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.
This is available here
Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.
Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.
When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.
Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poerty selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion.