Originally sent to newsletter subscribers on September 15th, 2014.
1) What are you working on right now?
I am just preparing my first Kindle book, The Hillwalker, for publication. I’m writing this under a pen-name, Lytchett Maltravers. I’ve ghost-written before, but ghosting for myself is a new experience. The book is a novella, around 30,000 words. This is a genre that could well flourish in the ePublishing world. In the old, ‘dead tree’ world it was too short to be published on its own, but too long to fit into a volume of short stories. Now it has a platform free of such constraints. It enables one to tell more complex, unfolding stories than the short story, but insists on pace. For some readers, the more words the better, but for others pace matters, and this second group should love the compact, precise hit of the novella.
2) What is one thing you struggle with?
Many of the things that used to be taken care of by the old model. One of these was simply having a deadline. Now the urge to tinker is strong: you have to set your own deadlines. Then there’s the PR and marketing side. Of course, for a long time writers have essentially had to do this for ourselves, but it was nice to get help from a publishers’ in-house PR person. Now we’re on our own. That’s more than one thing, isn’t it? I’ll go for the marketing. Discoverability is so important.
3) What book are you currently reading?
I tend to have a number of books on the go at any given moment. I’m reading Robert Byron’s The Road to Oxiana, a marvellous piece of old-style travel writing, where British gentleman intellectuals head off on mules into the sunset in search of delightfully obscure historical relics. I’m also having one of my periodic dips into Anthony Powell’s vast Dance to the Music of Time. This Blessed Plot by Hugo Young, a well-written but also expert tome on European politics, for a history book I am writing as Chris West… Closer to the genre of The Hillwalker, last night I watched Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Paul: a very funny ‘road movie’ homage to ET.
Lytchett Maltravers’ website is www.lytchettmaltravers.com
His biog. This, of course, might change, as he is himself a fictional character. I rather think he went to Oxford and read History, got some high-flying job, but then threw it all in to travel the world. His first novel, a 250,000 word epic called The Impertinence of Forgiving was eaten by ants in Bolivia – but it wasn’t very good anyway. On returning to Britain, he got a job as a postman, which he still does because he likes meeting people. In his spare time, he restores old cars, watches cricket (test cricket only), collects stamps and practices New-Age shamanism.