Saturday, 30 June 2012
An interview with Stuart Ayris
'Tollesbury Time Forever' and 'A Cleansing of Souls' and his new novel 'The Bird That Nobody Sees' will be out at the end of July this year. He was kind enough to let me interview him for this blog and it was a pleasure indeed. Tollesbury Time Forever is a fantastic read, where did the idea come from? What inspired you to come up with the story and where did the initial spark come from? The initial spark for Tollesbury Time Forever came when I stumbled out of The King's Head one night (not for the first time) and wandered over to the Village Lock-up – a really old structure in the village square where the local drunk used to be housed over night until he sobered. I thought then what it would be like if somebody went in there one night and when they were let out the following more their perception of their surroundings had changed. The lock-up in the novel serves the figurative function of a womb or a church or perhaps even a hospital. It is a place from which you hope to emerge somehow cleansed and with a better chance of surviving the perpetual struggle that is life. Are you a big planner or do you like to write from the seat of your pants? How much do you plan when writing a book or do you prefer to go with the flow? In the writing of Tollesbury Time Forever I had very little planning. The notion of FRUGALITY (which will make sense of you've read the book!) only came to me when I was about a third of the way through. As you know, Ally, the second half of the novel deals almost entirely in the implementation of this notion. So no, not much planning at all. I think it is the sort of novel though that is more effective with a less linear format. Some may argue that it goes a bit far the other way, but that's fine too! Have you always wanted to write from an early age or did you want to be a train driver or an international pop star like everyone else? From an early age I always wanted to play in a band! I managed to do this from the ages of 18 to 20 but ended up getting an electric shock off a mic stand and was thrown back into the drum kit to emerge with a dodgy shoulder and pretty much a life-long apprehension with regard to electrics! So I can play the guitar pretty well but I've had to work hard at it. Writing is about the most natural thing I do so I'm inclined to stick with it. Until the next folk-blues revival of course at which point I may strap on the battered old six-string again! What Authors do you like to read and what books have inspired you? I'd say my favourite authors are Jack Kerouac, John Steinbeck and John Irving. My ideal book would be a combination of all three – the beautiful mad phonetic language of Jack Kerouac, the inspiring and emotional punch of John Steinbeck and the great story telling of John Irving. That would be heaven to me! What advice would you give to any aspiring Authors out there? You have to enjoy it to keep doing it. If at any time writing becomes an act of drudgery then maybe just do something else for a while and come back to it. Perhaps it's your mood, perhaps it's what your writing. Either way, don't force it. I have been known to write 10,000 words in a week then nothing for three months, picking up the story again when the moment feels write. Think of your writing not as a task but as a series of glorious moments! Is Tollesbury as lovely as it sounds and what reaction did you get in the village from people that live there? It is indeed as lovely as it sounds and just as bizarre as is depicted in Tollesbury Time Forever. Although I've lived there for a few years now I tend to keep myself to myself a lot of the time so I wander over to The King's Head (which is about a two minute walk from my home) and can be occasionally be found waiting for a bus in the square – other than that I kind of stay indoors. As such I don't know too many people. The reaction though, second hand, has been wonderful. My wife, Rebecca, is always walking the dog around the village so she knows loads of people! What are your future plans as far as writing is concerned? Your experience as a Mental Health Nurse has obviously influenced this book, do you intend to explore mental health issues in your future writing? Well my third novel, The Bird That Nobody Sees, will be released on 30th July 2012. It has taken me about a year to write on and off and I really like it. It as not as overtly concerned with mental health issues as Tollesbury Time Forever but of course whenever you have a novel with people in it you will have emotions and behaviours and reactions. So no, I won't be exploring mental health issues in my writing here on in but my fascination with both the beauty around me and the courage of the individual will continue to inform my writing. If you could become any character in a book, who would you be and why? Hmmm! I think perhaps Alice in Alice in Wonderland as that would be about as close as I could get to living in Tollesbury! If you could look into a Crystal ball, where would you like to be in ten years time? Just sitting in The King's Head having a drink with good people – that would suit me just fine. Finally, How much do you really hate Paul McCartney for the Frog’s Chorus and do forgive him now! Or is it just your main character Simon that hates him? I'm a Pipes of Peace man myself! To tell you the truth my younger self detested Paul McCartney – particularly after John Lennon was killed. I somehow felt Paul should never smile again, wondering how an earth he, being a life-long friend of John's, could have got over something that I, a complete stranger was having difficulty coming to terms with. And then what did he do? The Frog's Chorus! But of course, my older self sees that life is too wonderful to let anything tarnish your experience. Bitterness and resentment just draw a shade down on everything and you may as well never open your eyes again. So yes, like Simon in Tollesbury Time Forever, I forgave Paul McCartney for that song – but unlike Simon, forgiving Diego Maradonna is, even for me, a fair way off yet… Diego Maradonna will never be forgiven by me anyway Stuart! Thank You Stuart for answering my questions and I for one will be looking forward to reading more from you in the future. Anyone wanting to find out more about Stuart Ayris can find him at Goodreads and on his Blog and he is also on twitter if you type in his name. I will definitely be reading more of his work and wouldn't mind visiting Tollesbury one day to have a drink in the King's Head and to have a walk to the salt marshes! Thanks Stuart.