Thrilled to be able to share an interview with author Philip Caveney as part of his Stand And Deliver blog tour today. I found the premise and setting of this historical high-stakes adventure refreshingly original, and thoroughly enjoyed being whisked back in time by Philip’s smooth and immersive storytelling.
Stand And Deliver is the story of an orphan called Ned who agrees to become Tom Gregory’s assistant. Ned thinks he’s making a good decision – especially when the alternative is the dreaded workhouse. But when Tom Gregory turns out to be the notorious Highwayman known as The Shadow, Ned’s unwitting involvement in his Master’s doings means he might end up swinging from the end of a rope instead. With a determined thief-taker hot on The Shadow’s tail, loyal Ned is caught in a perilous game of cat-and-mouse, when all he wants is enough money to set up an honest business as a carpenter.
I really felt for this loyal character who is wholly unsuited to a life of crime.
But let’s hear about what Philip’s up to when he’s hanging around Epping Forest in 1735!
- Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
I have been a published author for more than 40 years and have published more than fifty novels. I intend to continue…
- Your novel STAND AND DELIVER came out this week. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be?
As a boy I was thrilled when I read about people like Dick Turpin and I recently decided that it would be fun to try and recreate that same excitement in a book of my own. As I researched the era, I began to realise that highwaymen were the rock stars of their day, loved by the working classes and despised by the rich, upon whom they preyed. And I thought, ‘What if a fairly decent boy was tricked into being the apprentice to one of these men? How far would he be prepared to go to obtain his freedom?
- Ok, here’s a challenge… can you sum up your book in five words? [runs and hides!]
Crime and punishment in 1735.
- What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me will include a stroll to the National Library of Scotland, where I shall go up to the Reading Rooms and spend several hours tapping away at my latest project. Since I’m not allowed to talk or make noise of any kind, the concentration is intense and I know I shall produce pages of writing! I originally learned to write on a manual typewriter and I tend to tap the keys too hard, which can draw annoyed looks, but I get so much done. To me, a day without writing is a missed opportunity! In the evenings I’m usually at the cinema or a theatre. I run a review site called Bouquets and Brickbats with my wife, Susan, and the rule is that we must have our reviews online by the following day. We also do restaurant reviews.
- What makes you happy?
I like wandering into a bookshop and looking for books with my name on the cover. Even after all these years, whenever I spot them, I can’t resist the temptation to turn them face outwards!
- What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
Well, I’ve just finished the new books by Kate Atkinson and Maggie O’ Farrell and now I’m finally ploughing my way through Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, a book I’ve always meant to get around to. If you want to write you must read. People who say that they won’t read in case they are influenced are missing the point. Influences are what get you started in the writing game and they’re also what keep you doing it.
- What’s your worst habit?
My worst habit is complaining when other writers seem to be doing better than me.
- Your favourite word(s) and why –
My two favourite words are PEANUT and BUTTER. Not much good on their own but put them together and you have genuine magic!
- What are your top tips for budding writers?
Concentrate on your characters. They are the most important aspect of a story. Think about them until they begin to seem like real people and then put them in a setting and have them interact with each other. Then… let them give you the story.
- Is there anything that’s surprised you about the publishing process?
How long everything takes. When I was in my twenties and I’d signed my first publishing deal, I genuinely expected to see the novel in shops and libraries by the following week! Learning that it takes a year or more to turn your manuscript into a finished book was a very hard lesson to take on board.
- Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake!)
I’m hard at work on the next Danny Weston novel which is set in Shetland. (Danny is my alter ego and his books are always rather creepy). In preparation for starting work on the book, I spent a week in Shetland and can honestly say I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. I even took a selfie at the Northernmost point in the UK! The book won’t be ready for publication until next autumn and the working title is Postcards From Valhalla. (Make the cake Lemon Drizzle, please!)
- Did we forget anything?
No, I think you’ve covered most of the big questions – and I see there are some little ones to follow. Good thinking.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Coffee. Fresh ground, please. I don’t do instant coffee!
Paper books or e-books? E-books – mostly because I don’t have room for any more paper ones!
Cake or chocolate? Chocolate. Tony’s Salted Caramel to be precise.
Write or type? Type – I only ever use a pen to sign a book or a cheque.
Poetry or prose? Prose – though I have knocked out the occasional poem!
Hot or cold? Hot – unless we’re talking about ice cream. I HATE hot ice cream!
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!