Today we have Terry J. Newman. Terry lives with his wife in Sussex, England. He is a member of English Heritage, The National Trust, Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters’ Club and Mensa. Here’s a brief synopsis of his book. It is set in “Drayling”, which is a small district in Southern 25th Century Britain. Its citizens lead extremely contented lives – until a change at the head of national government heralds a significant shift in approach – forcing a small group of ordinary people to conclude that they have no alternative but to take radical action to protect their way of life. This is their story.
Terry, What’s the most overrated virtue?
Sincerity. You never know if it’s real.
What is the one thing that other people always seem to get wrong about you?
They assume some emotion/agenda/motivation behind what I say, when all I’m trying to do is be objective and say exactly what I mean – no more, no less.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
What pet peeve do you have about other people?
I don’t suffer fools gladly.
Is there any occasion when it’s OK to lie?
Yes. My wife is a congenital worrier. There are occasions (not frequent, thankfully) when I feel that bending the truth is the best option.
Discuss your philosophy of writing.
I want to get down on paper my thoughts exactly as I see them, and in such a way that the reader receives – and understands – them with the same precision. Sounds easy, but it isn’t.
That doesn’t sound easy at all. Try this question. Is your writing an art or craft or some combination of both?
A bit of both, I think. Some art, some learned craft and much slog. Let me give you a bit of background. I retired early – at the age of 50 – from an office job that I hated, in order to write. As people do, I also made a “bucket list” of everything I wanted to achieve in retirement.
In addition to the usual family and travel stuff, and writing in general, two of the more specific items were “become a member of Mensa” and “write a full-length novel”.
The first I achieved in 2003, but the second took a little longer.
At the time, I don’t think I contemplated much beyond simply wanting to experience for myself the full process of writing one.
I was (and still consider myself to be) very much a novice. I discovered all sorts of “basic building block” stuff along the way – notably that there is no “right way” to write a novel. It soon became apparent to me that every author will write in a different way. Some will use a pen, some will use a pencil. Some will dictate and some will key into a lap top or word processor. Some will create in short bursts, and others will slave for hours at a time. I know these things now because, at various times in the process, I did all of them.
I discovered that mood, inclination and determination are significant factors, and that the tolerance of one’s family is hugely helpful (and much appreciated). Initially, I continued to read and write other stuff, such as poems and short stories, but this soon took a back seat as the novel became all-consuming. I found that I didn’t want distraction of any kind.
I finally finished it at the end of 2010 (well, abandoned it more like – I could go on tinkering with it forever), and it was published, in paperback, in March 2011. It has subsequently also become available as an e-book on Kindle as from March 2012.
If you could go back ten years and give yourself one piece of advice what would that advice be?
To be totally honest, I think it would be to do some more tinkering to the book. There are a few things that I would change with hindsight, but it’s out there now, so that’s it!
What’s the genre of Drayling?
The book sellers classify it as Science Fiction – so that they know what shelf to put it on. It’s the most appropriate of their limited number of alternatives. However, it would be better described as “futuristic drama”.
Who’s the audience for this book?
Drayling can be read by anyone. There are no language, sexual or violence issues to worry about. However, it’s specifically aimed at the intelligent adult.
What can you tell us about the characters in Drayling?
I’ve deliberately not been over-descriptive about the characters. I want the readers’ relationship with each of them (hero and villain alike) to form in their mind’s eye, as the story unfolds, in a way that’s unique to them.
Quote and comment on a passage from your book.
I’ll not quote from my favorite passages, because they would reveal too much about the story for those who have yet to read the book. Here is a small snippet taken from the series of events that lead the protagonists to conclude that radical action is going to be necessary.
“They’d been toiling for over two hours when Stin, who was having his rest turn, suddenly hissed, “Stop digging!”
Hayden and Marius froze. Had they been discovered? They looked up at the silhouette of Stin against the sky.
“Listen!” he breathed.
In the still of the night, they could just detect a low, steady hum.
“What is it?” queried Marius.
“Do as I say, and don‟t ask questions,” demanded Stin, in a low and even voice. “Drop the tools and get out of the hole slowly and carefully. I‟ll explain it to you in a moment.”
The urgency in his voice was sufficient to make them do as he asked.
When they were standing beside the hole, he held out his IDS and whispered, “Look at this.”
The screen was flashing “IMMINENT DANGER.”
What surprising things did you learn while writing this book?
Apart from the basic “building block” stuff that I’ve mentioned already, there were a couple of occasions when a character said something, apparently out of the blue, that explained something that had happened or been said earlier, and which, up to that point, I hadn’t really understood. It was quite spooky at the time, but it suggests that, throughout the entire process, my subconscious was beavering away, just below the surface, in parallel with my conscious efforts.
Where do you live and how does that influence your writing?
I live in England, in the county of Sussex, about 35 miles south of London. Drayling is set in Southern Britain, and my home county was certainly at the forefront of my mind when I was writing it. In fact, although it has no direct relevance to the story, there are twenty-six “allusions to Sussex” incorporated into the book, in one form or another, just for fun. For example, “Drayling” is an anagram of ARDINGLY, which is the name of the village in which I was born and raised.
What do you do in your life aside from your novel?
My wife and I love to visit historic buildings and gardens, and I’m also a keen fan of the local soccer club, Brighton & Hove Albion. As a diversion, and when in more flippant mood, I like to write short doggerel verse about topical issues. Here an example:
We watch as Russia’s stricken sub
runs slowly out of air.
It seems there’s no priority
to get them out of there.
The outcome, as expected,
is the loss of all the men.
They cared more for their country
than their country did for them.
DRAYLING ISBN: 978-1-907499-91-3
Price: Paperback $12.92 Kindle $1.56
That’s the interview. Thanks for listening.
Here’s a couple of review quotes:
The future often seems tied to peace and the efforts we make to develop such an accord. Fantasy novels often take us in varying directions, revealing a future world where in some cases a utopia occurs or in others where the end of the world is the outcome. Each novel identifies the aftermath in various ways.
In Drayling by Terry J. Newman, we follow an extremely interesting scenario, where peace did reign supreme. Drayling, an area in Britain–in the future–is a peaceful and interesting place to live. Each of the area governments has their own part in making the transition smooth and to continue success. While a national government is in process, there are also groups of ordinary citizens that do their part to hold on to that success. Part of the success is that the differing areas do not communicate or compete thereby helping to continue in a peaceful existence. When the premier dies under suspicious circumstances, the death creates a change at the head of the national government, that seems to change the way everything is being done, and secrecy seems to sneak into the fray. All of a sudden the local governments find their hands tied, and uneasiness prevails.
Uri Graves is the local historian and recently became a Worthy, one of those consulted with questions. His intelligence is unquestionable and he is held in high regard by the townspeople as well as the other Worthy’s with whom he has become friends. His children are well adjusted and his son Marius has also been making a name for himself with his interest and studies.
When the changes to government begin to affect the lives of the people, first with the lies and then the disruption, the reprisal is not far behind. In an effort to make their concerns known, 16 young men are killed, by a security force that is unheard of in the world of Dunstan Heathfield, the founder of the utopia which now exists. His diplomacy achieved what violence could not. Now all of his teaching seemed to be set aside. Could a small group of ordinary people do what it took to protect their way of life? As they begin a mission of danger and suspense, can they reduce the damage being wrought? Will their disobedience and secrecy save their way of life, or distort it even further.
The characters are so laid back and positive, the story seemed to flow effortlessly. The government while a bit strange, seemed to have heralded a long lived peace, and yet appears to have held some of its own secrets, as it seems many governments do. The small group of individuals must make choices, but they must also trust, which does not seem as easy as it once was. Finding the right people to help them in their mission, they must also find those who feel as they do. Knowledge of computers is a must, and a strong will to do the right thing, whatever it takes also tops the list. Uri and his son Marius are smack in the middle of this conspiracy.
I really enjoyed the premise of the book. Newman does an excellent job of fleshing out a government that made sense, and his characters were quite real. With just a bit of over the top belief in what they learned, they also have a tough time realizing that everything may not be as they believed. The response from the outsiders, those from the other areas were possibly a little too honest, especially with the lack of address between the groups in the past. However, again trust was one of the main themes and with just a bit of explanation, there seemed to be an abundance of trust with little knowledge. The trust itself, in their own government also seems to have been a problem, never questioning, just accepting the information as they knew it. Yet this group was ready to fight to retain what they loved, their way of life. It is part of what people do best.
I would recommend this book for the science fiction fan, as well as those who appreciate a good story. The background leading up to the fracas is well written and thought out. If you enjoy history, even the fabricated stuff, you will also find this an interesting read. I believe it would be an excellent book for a discussion group; the intricacies of the belief system would be great fodder to discuss.
(TicToc. Review by Leslie Wright.)
I honestly didn’t believe I would enjoy this book. Surprisingly, however, I found it fascinating. It might be slightly heavy on political inner workings but I think the heart of the story will win readers over. The concept of a peaceful future maintained by literally eliminating all which is controversial is…well…controversial in itself, but also strangely thought-provoking. The characters are interesting and multi-faceted, really well-developed. The one thing I found lacking was the romance, however the cover art itself is tantalizing, the rich colors and vivid imagery a fitting precursor to this unique novel. I recommend this book to any fan of sci-fi or dystopian fiction.
(Between The Pages. Review by Kelsey G.)