A copy of his novel is also up for grabs. If you leave a comment on this post before midnight Tuesday 19th August, your name will be put into a hat. The name pulled out the hat will win the book. :) Giveaway open worldwide.
Pull up a seat!
British writer Tom Vowler's story collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize in 2010 and the Edge Hill Readers' Prize in 2011. His debut novel, What Lies Within, is set on the uplands of Dartmoor, and his second, That Dark Remembered Day, is out now. Tom is an associate lecturer at Plymouth University, where he's studying for a PhD. Represented by Ed Victor, he's co-editor of the literary journal Short FICTION and occasional all-rounder for the Authors Cricket XI.
Hello, Tom! First, let's go back a bit. The last time we talked on here, your first novel 'What Lies Within' was about to be published. How did that go? Was the experience of having a novel published all that you thought it would be?
People said some lovely things about that book, which is most of what you hope for, to make some sort of a connection with readers. In the end you don’t even mind the less favourable responses – anything but indifference. You soon move on to the next one, though.
What book/publishing things have you learned over the past couple of years?
Not to read or respond to reviews. The bad ones sap creativity, the good ones encourage complacency. And to give yourself some down time: a novel takes a lot from you, two years or more on the same endeavour. You need distractions to help you switch off.
Did you approach the writing process differently for your second novel? Were there things you wanted to do differently after writing the first one?
The process was much the same, but I certainly wanted to challenge the reader more this time, morally speaking. I wanted similar aspects of pace and suspense, but also a more lyrically rich work, particularly when exploring the natural world and how it could be both cause and remedy for mental anguish. Structurally the book is more complex and layered, some of the narrative told in reverse, layers peeled back but then replaced.
Was this novel easier or harder to write than your first?
Harder in many ways, as you have the shadow of the first lingering. You want to continue with the elements that worked for you before, but the artist in you pleads for a new aesthetic, for risks to be taken. I also knew, unlike first time round, that this book would be published, which sounds a wonderful luxury to have but which brings its own attendant pressures.
Tell us a little bit about your book.
In part a psychological thriller, but probably more literary than its predecessor, the book examines how a family is torn apart by an hour’s madness. It’s also a meditation on the contrails of war, on fatherhood and the natural world. It asks how well you can really know someone, know what they’re capable of.
What advice would you give to writers with regard to building up suspense?
Credit the reader with the power to sense subtle clues, to sense and feel what’s there without being told. Less is always more.
What do you plan to work on next?
After several years working on novels, I’m back to my first love, the short story, a collection coming together.
Lastly, give us a recommendation of something you've recently read and loved.
David Vann’s Goat Mountain, an extraordinary work, which I reviewed here. (link: http://oldenoughnovel.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/forgive-me-father.html)
A thought-provoking and beautifully written thriller, taking the reader from the primeval plains of the Falkland Islands to a Yorkshire market town with a horrific past.
A son returns to where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day's tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep?
In exploring the darkest corners of the human heart, Vowler asks how well we can ever know someone. Part psychological suspense, part lyrical meditation on fatherhood, war and the natural world, That Dark Remembered Day is a gripping and moving literary thriller that will haunt you to the end.
A copy of Tom's novel is up for grabs. If you leave a comment on this post before midnight Tuesday 19th August, your name will be put into a hat. The name pulled out the hat will win the book. Giveaway open worldwide.