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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Author Interview: Richard Louden

Today I am pleased to present to you all the forty-third in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the distinguished wisdom-locked Richard Louden, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Richard:  I don't sit at my laptop for more than an hour at a time, even if the words are flowing. I get up and prowl around like a caged beast for ten minutes or so, muttering phrases and ideas so that I don't lose the flow. To stop news of my insanity from leaking out, I make sure I'm alone.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Richard:  I especially enjoy quality spy and crime novels and some literary fiction, though most Man Booker winners are over my head. I admire John le Carré for his superb intellect and flawless plotting, Patricia Cornwell for making a dry subject like forensic pathology so readable and Albert Camus for his deep psychological insights.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Richard:  They would see a pretty scary ant hill where hordes of tiny ants drag incoherent ideas to the top of the hill, dump them unceremoniously and leave poor old King Ant to make what sense he can of them. Sadly, His Majesty isn't always able to deliver, so the wretched ants have to start all over again.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Richard:  I admire those authors who, because of a full-time job or bringing up kids, have to squeeze in their writing when they can. For me, time isn't normally an issue. I took early retirement a good few moons ago, though I still do some journalism and charity work. I can write more or less when I please, though my brain often protests that it has done enough thinking for one lifetime and deserves to be put out to graze.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Richard:  I hope you refrain from telling them I'm grey-haired. I always think "distinguished" sounds so much better, don't you? Or feel free to say I've had my locks tinted grey (but not fifty shades!).

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Richard:  I was close to being taken on by a London literary agent (honest!) but it didn't quite work out. On balance, I would still like to find a traditional publisher but I'm more than happy to self-publish, especially as print publishers take so long to get your book out there.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Richard:  If I just ran with an idea, I'd be out of puff in no time. On the other hand, I don't do a lot of plotting. In fact, I feel guilty when I hear of authors who write lengthy outlines and detailed character plans. I store my plot outlines and character sketches in my long-suffering computer of a brain and hope they don't get deleted in error. All I have when I start writing are some notes on my main characters and an indication of where each scene or chapter will begin and end.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Richard:  I've been a writer of sorts for most of my life, so it flows more easily than it once did. I review and edit after each chapter to ensure that the storylines and the characters are still playing out consistently. I'm also a finicky self-editor. I hate typos and grammatical booboos, so I weed them out after every chapter (Please God, don't let there be any in this interview!).

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it.
Richard: The Girl with the Haunting Smile, my first novel, is a love story with a 'difference'. It's about a young Scot who is smitten by a photo of his American pen pal, stays hooked on her and, after she disappears from his life for many years, heads for the US to track her down. The 'difference' is that he has had Tourette's Syndrome ever since he was a kid and has never told her about it. Even if he finds her, will his secret destroy his chances of happiness?

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Richard:  I'm always on the side of the guy or girl who is subjected to abuse, mockery or bullying. In my career in education, I met many young folk with Tourette's and saw what unfair treatment by other people did to them, socially and psychologically. I'm only aware of one other novel whose main character has Tourette's, so the theme hasn't exactly been done to death.

Paul:  Do you also write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Richard:  I'm afraid I don't have enough soul for poetry. If I did, I would make all my poems rhyme and be in iambic pentameters. I've written non-fiction galore, mostly yawn-inducing reports on sport, education and law. Two of my short stories made it into national anthologies.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Richard:  Yes, mostly short film scripts of yesteryear (there was a time when I thought I was destined to write the next 'Casablanca' or 'Rear Window'). When I revisit these mini-screenplays now, I feel I owe it to humanity to ensure they never see the light of day.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Richard:  As a newbie, I've mainly focused on developing my blog and building a sizeable presence on Twitter and Goodreads. I'm also a fan of the World Literary Café and of good guys like you who give writers like me valuable publicity. On average, I spend around three hours a day spreading awareness of my 'brand' and The Girl with the Haunting Smile.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Richard:  I help my son, who recently set up his own financial recruitment business, to source new clients. I serve on the board of a charity for young people with severe and complex needs. I can place my thumbs behind the knuckles of my forefingers.

Paul:  Thanks so much for the interview, Richard. I wish you every success for the future.

About Richard Louden: Richard Louden has lived in Glasgow most of his life. As an education director and journalist, he took ages to get round to writing The Girl with the Haunting Smile (or any novel, for that matter - he always felt more suited to sprints than marathons). By that time, he had learned some of the tricks of the author's trade by writing two TV dramas which were produced on BBC and ITV, two short stories that were published in national anthologies and various TV and radio comedy sketches. He now knows that a novel is less of a marathon than he feared, so he is in the later stages of writing another one, Spring Chicken. All he is saying for now is that it is an inspirational tale for our times and it isn't about poultry.

Richard's Blog: Richard Louden
Richard on Twitter: @RichardLouden
Richard on Facebook: Unavailable
Richard's latest book: The Girl With The Haunting Smile (Amazon)

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