I was really lucky to be able to read and review ‘Six Month to Get a Life’ by Ben Adams a little while ago and so I was delighted when he agreed to be interviewed for Linda’s Book Bag.
Here’s what Ben told me (and as an ex-English teacher I had to hold my head in shame…):
You’ve recently decided to write full time. How did it feel on your last day in your previous job and your first one as a full time author?
Linda, firstly, thanks for inviting me on to your great blog.
‘Six Months to Get a Life’ was written while I was still gainfully employed in my full-time local government job. I would get up early and write before work. The writing process was so much fun that, even before I had finished the book, I knew I would quit my day job and give it a go full-time.
My last day in my old job was fantastic. Not just because I could turn up in jeans without too much fear of being sacked, but because my colleagues pulled out all the stops to make it a memorable day. They didn’t seem too offended by my leaving speech either, which was nice of them.
My first day as a full-time author was an absolute nightmare. I blame my work leaving party for that…
What is your earliest memory of writing? Was it something you were good at in school?
My mother showed me one of my old school reports the other day. “At least you are good at Maths,” was my English teacher’s verdict on my performance in her class in 1982.
Despite my English teacher’s opinion, writing has always been a hobby of mine. At school, a group of us were obsessed with ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. We fancied ourselves as the next Douglas Adams (no relation by the way). We didn’t show our finished product to anyone, but my friends and I loved the writing process.
What is your writing routine and where do you write?
It has only been six weeks since I started writing full-time. My routine is evolving, but I seem to be at my most productive and most creative in the mornings. I see my boys off to school and sit down at my laptop in a little room at the front of the house, looking over my front drive. I wanted to write facing my garden but the desk I bought wouldn’t fit through the house!
If you’re not writing what do you like to read?
Crime thrillers used to be my reading genre of choice. I tried to write one once, but soon realised that I don’t know the first thing about police procedure, forensics or how to commit the perfect murder. These days, I pretty much alternate between a good courtroom drama (Scott Turow is the master) and an entertaining bit of contemporary fiction (Nick Hornby). I have even been known to read a hefty chunk of chick lit.
What (apart from ‘Six Months to Get a Life’) is your favourite book?
Picking one book out above any other is really hard, but my favourite author is certainly Roald Dahl. Dahl is pretty much single-handedly responsible for my love of reading. And his work is timeless too. My own boys love Fantastic Mr Fox and Danny the Champion of the World almost as much as they love Harry Potter.
In ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ Graham is suffering a bit of a mid life crisis. How much is there an autobiographical element to his character?
Without giving too much away, I am familiar with the emotions that divorced dad, Graham Hope, experiences in the book. But when I sat down to write Six Months…, I knew I wasn’t writing a memoir. Writing a book about my ex, my children and my friends would have been wrong on so many levels.
Instead, I made up a new ex, new friends and new scenarios they could all get caught up in. The inventiveness of it all was great fun. Many of the emotions Graham experiences are genuine though.
Graham’s relationship with his sons is very important. Why did you make this such a central part of the book?
Because I was speaking from the heart on that bit.
If ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ became a film, who would you cast as Graham and why?
I asked a friend that question. She suggested Benedict Cumberbatch. If I’m honest, I didn’t delve too deeply into her reasons, but I like to think her answer had something to do with his good looks, combined with the obvious intelligence of the characters he plays…
If you had six months to get a life, what would you do first and why?
I’d shut myself away and write a book about it. That’s pretty much what I did do.
I read recently that you’d just killed a character in the book you’re currently writing. How did that feel?
Spoiler alert, spoiler alert!
Killing characters is a tricky subject. Personally, I don’t mind a bit of tragedy in a book. It makes the book live longer in the memory. ‘One Day’ was a fantastic book, despite or maybe even partly because David Nicholls killed off a significant character.
Fans of ‘Six Months to Get a Life’ will definitely want to read’ Six Lies’. Can you tell us a little bit about it (without giving too much away of course)?
Writing a book is just like reading a book, only better. The characters are with me for longer and I am never disappointed with the way it ends . I have loved writing ‘Six Lies’ just as much as I enjoyed constructing ‘Six Months…’
I haven’t written the blurb to ‘Six Lies’ yet. My description of the book still needs honing, but basically it is about a man who discovers after her death that his mother wasn’t actually his mother after all. The book follows Dave Fazackerley as he goes in search of the truth. Oh, and of course there is your standard rom-com goings on too.
If you had a one minute speed date with a reader, what would you tell them about yourself and your writing?
Nothing. I’d ask them about themselves. I’m a better listener than I am a talker.
I’d really like to thank Ben for taking the time to answer my questions. The lively answers are a really good clue as to Ben’s style of writing and I’m sure you’ll want to know more about Ben and his writing so here are some links:
‘Six Months to Get a Life’ is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon