Welcome to A VERY BRITISH BLOG TOUR 2013 – a collection of blogs, books and authors who are surprisingly very British.
John A. A. Logan invites you to take part in ‘A Very British Blog’ by visiting and supporting the websites of authors involved in the tour and who are dedicated to turning out some of the finest books available in Britain today. Author Christine Miller invited me to take part in this great initiative, and she was invited in turn by author Clive Eaton
Each author named at the bottom of the page has been asked the same questions but the answers will obviously all be different. You simply click on the author’s name at the bottom of the page to see how they have answered the same question.
By the way, we British have certain conventions, traditions and procedures that are expected. There is a dress code in the reading of this British blog and you are expected to comply with it.
For example… NB… (You may chuckle if you wish)
Gentlemen will wear suits, white shirts and dark ties (or kilts, sporrans, baggy T-shirts etc). (Tartan ties are expected wherever possible). Ladies will wear dresses (one inch above the knee, no higher, no lower) and floral summer hats (or baggy troosers and bunnets if preferred). A break for TEA and cucumber sandwiches (or Irn Bru and Girders) is expected at some stage and is permissible. The list at the bottom of the page is not a queue. We British hate queues and will accept them no longer. It is an invitation and you are expected to accept that invitation and support the home-grown product. Now then, let us proceed in an orderly fashion. As you know, we are all very boring and staid in Britain, aren’t we?
Well, there’s a myth about the British and your starter for ten is - stuffy, class conscious, boring, staid! But is this still relevant in today’s world? Let’s find out from our wonderful writers what they feel about it.
So, without further ado, here are the questions from THE VERY BRITISH WRITER: John A. A. Logan:
Q. Where were you born and where do you live at the moment?
A. I was born in Glasgow, but was brought north by my Scottish Highlander parents at the age of two, first to live on a hill overlooking Loch Ness, then to a farm overlooking the Moray Firth. At the moment, and for most of the last 33 years, I live in the city of Inverness, in the Scottish Highlands.
Q. Have you always lived and worked in Britain or are you based elsewhere at the moment?
A. I’ve always lived and worked in Britain, apart from a little excursion working my way from New York to Los Angeles, via Oklahoma and Ohio, one year.
Q. Which is your favourite part of Britain?
A. Right where I am! The Scottish Highlands, Inverness and the surrounding Highland locale…from Nairn, to Aviemore, to Kinlochbervie in the far north of Sutherland, where my mother came from.
Q. Have you ‘highlighted’ or ‘showcased’ any particular part of Britain in your books? For example, a town or city; a county, a monument or some well-known place or event?
A. The Survival of Thomas Ford is set in “the city”, a city which is never named. The village of Dumnadrochit and the Loch Ness locations are named in the book. So anyone knowing the local area knows “the city” must be Inverness, geographically…and in many ways, locations I use are exactly as they are in the “real” Inverness. But by calling it “the city” I can fuse in aspects, sometimes dark aspects, of other cities I have lived in or visited…from Aberdeen to San Francisco, or Budapest, or Belgrade. This can make a definite location simultaneously limitless. But I’ve been told there’s a distinctly Highland Scottish flavour to characters, location. Also, these are rural locations with urban hubs, urban problems. I find that liberating too, in contrast to books set in cities only. I prefer to set the city in the midst of dark nature, brewing in the background. There should be an underlying “Heart of Darkness” somewhere in the background there. Without forests, rivers, beaches, mountains…to balance out the concrete zones…I don’t feel as satisfied when doing this. The Scottish Highland location around Inverness is ripe with that old atmosphere. Five miles from Inverness, in 1746, the last land battle in Britain took place. “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and the Highland Army would have marched (tired and underfed) past the road end of the farm I was brought up on as a child, to fight that last land battle against the Southern Scots and the English. A battle they lost, which led to the building of Fort George, which I could see as a child out the kitchen window at the farm, the Fort built to “pacify” the Highlands. There was a brutal period after the Battle of Culloden, murder and rape of the locals, their dress and language made illegal. But, in not much more than a generation, the matter was settled, and Fort George became a recruiting base for the British Army, sending Highlanders around the world in uniform, often to colonise other countries. So there is this dark background to the Inverness area. The battlefield itself, at Culloden, is an eerie place. That “vibe” can be incorporated even into a modern novel set in this area.
Q. There is an illusion – or myth if you wish - about British people that I would like you to discuss. Many see the ‘Brits’ as ‘stiff upper lip’. Is that correct?
A. Well, to answer this is to define the term, “British”. It sounds like British is being used there as an interchangeable term for “English” (not that I am saying I buy into that stereotype about the English either!) But British (at least until or unless Scotland/Wales/Northern Ireland/England opt for independence one day) is a term which must include, for example, the Highlanders, which is to say Picts, Gaels, Celts. Far from a stiff-upper-lipped people…very given to the poetry and the singing. I live beside the hill where the Pictish King of Scotland once had his Hill Fort centuries ago. I run up there and sit at the top on a strange base of vitrified stone covered in grass to stare at the sea and mountains, meditate, process, and formulate books…can almost sense those Picts in the background there as I sit…nothing stiff-upper-lipped about them!
Q. Do any of the characters in your books carry the ‘stiff upper lip’? Or are they all ‘British Bulldog’ and unique in their own way?
A.. No British Bulldogs in my books. Maybe a Terrifying Scots Terrier here and there! No, I write Polish characters, Scottish, East European, English…I have a story, Late Testing, in my collection, Storm Damage…a young soldier returns from World War One to his English village…and another story in that collection, The Airman, a ghost story about two English airmen who take part in the World War Two bombing of Dresden. I don’t think I ever write any such thing as a British character. The fun is going into the Englishness of an English character, or the Polishness of a Pole, Scottishness of a Scot. I really enjoyed writing the German character, Frank, in my story Napoleon’s Child. Or the character of Lanski, the hard-working ethically-anguished Pole in The Survival of Thomas Ford. “Stiff upper lip” has to be an old class stereotype doesn’t it? British Bulldog was a game we played in primary school, you had to fold your arms, hop on one leg, and try to knock each other over!
Q. Tell us about one of your recent books?
A. Last year, I epublished The Survival of Thomas Ford. Well, technically, it was published on Christmas Day 2011. It’s been downloaded 30000 times now. It won a special award in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBooks Awards last year, also was Goodreads Kindle Forum book of the month, and Alliance of Independent Authors book of the month. Amazon put a page from it in the new advert for their Kindle Paperwhite as the example of one of the 180000 books available exclusively on Kindle in the UK. It’s about a man whose wife is killed in an accident caused by a young, reckless driver, and the young driver’s decision to get rid of any witnesses who could ever identify him.
Q. What are you currently working on?
A. I’m getting 4 novels ready for epublishing. And completing my 6th novel for my literary agent in London. Mostly, I’m focused on editing my next ebook, Agency Woman, an espionage thriller with a psychological dimension.
Q. How do you spend your leisure time?
A. I walk, run, watch films, read, sit and look at the sea, talk to friends and family.
Q. Do you write for a local audience or a global audience?
A. I write for both. I’ve been contacted by local Scottish readers who have enjoyed my books, and likewise by readers in Australia and California, and England and Ireland, and many points between!
Q. Can you provide links to your work?
A. Yes, and thanks for the questions!
To see how our other authors responded, click on an author’s name below:
(Contact me at www.johnaalogan.com if that link does not behave!)