One day a few years ago, I was searching around on Twitter and came across Geoff Le Pard. His then-new book title was attention-grabbing: Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle. After a brief Twitter-chat, I went to look at his blog, and have followed him ever since. Today I’m really pleased to welcome him here to talk about his (highly entertaining; I’ve read it) new novel, Buster And Moo, and a few other things.
Over to Geoff:
So how important is setting? I have now written four books and the first three are set in very specific places. In one I made up a town in Oklahoma; this one – My Father and Other Liars – also took my characters from San Francisco to London, Nicaragua to Washington as well as the mythical Beaumont, Oklahoma. In each I was careful to make sure my readers felt comfortable that they could visualize the setting, even if they had not been there. Being ‘grounded’ in this way is, for a lot of readers, as important as being able to visualize the characters.
When I came to write Buster & Moo, my latest novel, my inclination was to base in in my home city of London. Indeed, in my part of south London. But my last book is, in part set near where I live and I am loath to repeat myself. One aim I had when I started writing was to try and be different each time, whether it was genre or tense or point of view. That rule will be broken in the future as I write a sequel to my first novel but, hey, we can break our own ‘rules’!
If I wasn’t going to base it in London, where should it be?
I decided to take a radical step; I wouldn’t say. Those people who have read Buster & Moo have not commented beyond ‘I assumed it was in London’. At least they haven’t commented adversely!
However, doing this creates a set of challenges. First up is to create somewhere that works for my idea of the story; as with all ‘creative’ bits of writing that is part of the fun. Then there is the consistency needed to avoid eagle-eyed readers spotting continuity errors. That is often not so much a problem with a real place with which the author is familiar. The biggest challenge though was to make it interesting without being distracting. When I created Beaumont, I had one character reading the wiki entry for it on his way to visit from Washington. A cheap device or a neat trick? You’ll have to decide when you read it! But in this case I was determined not to name it or place my setting near any particular English town or city. Indeed, you can only tell it is in England from the very English features such as the trains and cafes and how the police work.
Now I’ve written this, all you expectant readers will be scouring the story for accidental clues I’ve left that give away the fact that, of course, as with most characters, my town is based in some sort of reality. Authors in my experience squirrel away elements of people which they call to mind when they create their characters – in Salisbury Square, I had one of my two protagonists compulsively rubbing his hands down his thighs, a tick that I took from an old French teacher at school; it was bloody irritating then as I hope it suggested it was to the other characters in the book. I’ve done the same when coming up with my ‘new-where’; I wonder which, if any, you might spot?
Thank you, Geoff! And here’s the blurb for Buster and Moo:
With their relationship under pressure, is adopting a dog the best decision for Mervin and Landen? As they adapt to fit the animal into their busy lives a chance encounter with Dave and Sheri, the dog’s previous owners, develops into something more and the newfound friendship is tested to the limits.
Life is complicated when Landen loses her job following the discovery of her affair with a colleague and then she becomes involved in a police investigation into alleged money laundering and drug dealing at her old firm. She tries desperately to keep the sordid truth from Mervin as events begin to spiral out of control.
As the four lives overlap and criss-cross the one constant is their shared love of the dog named Moo. But the problems mount up. While Sheri and Mervin grow close as they struggle to help each other, it is the unlikely alliance between Sheri and Landen that leads to the dramatic climax. However, there is only room for one hero in this story – who will it be?
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.
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. 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.
Edited to add – Check Geoff’s blog for some great free offers from 14th-18th July!