Peer Review

The Next Best Thing

The idea behind the The Next Best Thing is that a writer identifies an up and coming writer of talent and gets them to answers ten questions about their current novel on their own blog and then “tag” three other writers to do the same and to post links to the sites. In this way people interested in new writing and writers can discover new authors whose work they would like to read.

I was tagged by Jo Reed a hugely talented writer and  author of Puff of Magic , Tyranny of the Blood and Child of Blood. We met in The Bookshed 

What is the working title of your book?

The Open Arms of the Sea

Where did the idea for the book come from?

No single idea but the organic growth of several different themes and settings that were intriguing me. They seemed to coalesce naturally into an interesting and compelling story in a  recent history that  has great resonance and relevance for today.  The army occupation of a foreign land, Arab rebellion, the trade of oil, the power of class and privilege as drivers of social and military might, the finding of  moral courage and self in an alien and hostile world, the dichotomy of free love and gay taboos, the constancy and power of love to overcome all.  Like all the best stories its a love story. Its  set in Aden in 1965.  A time when British troops were fighting Arab rebels in a scorched and merciless desert while back home the Stones were rolling, London was rocking and some love was free.  But for a gay soldier in 1965 Aden love could never be free. It could only be hidden and denied.


What genre is the book?

Its a fiction novel of action, duty and romance set in a  foreign and forgotten war.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters?

The main protagonist Lieutenant Deacon is called Harry by his troops because he looks like Harry Palmer, ie Michael Caine, from the Iprcess File. Michael Caine is too old to play Deacon but maybe Rupert Penry-Jones might understudy. Corproal Locket I can see as Toby Maguire, Captain Villiers as Samuel West and Clemmie Ross as Emma Watson or Emily Browning. 

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Fleeing the guilts of his youth,  Leslie Deacon has escaped to hide in the army and the vast rock deserts of a scorched and war-ravaged Aden  where Adoo rebels hurl grenades from the shadows and a hard-pressed British Army is struggling to keep order and control.  Into this fearful, threatened city comes the adventurer Clemmie Ross and the charismatic Captain Villiers and  Deacon’s world of duty, honour, courage and love begins to explode and fragment about him.

In Aden’s scorched deserts and bombed streets, duty only brings death, honour offers no reward and it is only through love that will Deacon find peace. All he has to do is find it.

Ok, four sentences but three are quite short!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the book?

About three years off and on, four if you include the original short story from which the novel sprang.  I write late at night in my garden shed and work during the day to feed family and need, so writing time is governed by opportunity, chores and the warmth of my shed.

What other books would you compare to your book in the genre?

Not sure I can because I don’t know of any that cover this particular Aden war or its themes.

What inspired you to write this book?

The story of Deacon and Lockett grew in my head and demanded to be written. I fell in love with them both and had to write them to give them life.  I had to write their story.

Include the link of who tagged you and explain the authors you have tagged.

I was tagged by Jo Reed .  I am working on who I will tag – watch this space!