Staying in with Bob Farrand

It’s always a pleasure to meet a new to me author and I am very pleased to welcome Bob Farrand to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about his debut novel.  Let’s find out what Bob had to tell me:

Staying in with Bob Farrand

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Bob and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Hello Linda, thank you so much allowing me to suggest my book for your blog.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

The Snake That Bites its Tail is my first novel and is the culmination of half a century of thoughts and daydreams while relishing half a century as a magazine publisher.

That sounds quite some gestation period! What can we expect from an evening in with The Snake that Bites its Tail.

So much of the story is drawn from my life experiences although I assure you, I am not a murderer. Or then again, could I be? Which of us is truly conscious of who we really are and how others see us?

That’s a very good point. 

As Clive James wrote after first sighting a portrait of himself he barely recognised:

And so, this other man slowly appears

Who is not me as I as I would wish to be,

But is the me I try not to see

I have a feeling we all feel like that from time to time Bob!

My story deals with the all-too-common life experiences of ordinary folk. People who live with mental illness, financial problems, parental control, divorce, a yearning for stability and family kinship and the cruelty of a guilt warped by outdated moral codes.

More importantly, the novel examines mankind’s instinctive need to control others and to seek vengeance when wronged. Can the killing of another human being ever be justified and how much free will do we, as humans possess? Our hero, Robin Farnham, may be guilty of four vengeance killings although he remains doggedly convinced of his innocence.

That sounds intriguing. Tell me more about Robin.

Robin is a retired magazine publisher who, on being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, attempts suicide to spare his family his slow deterioration. He awakes in a dementia home to be told the police suspect him of murder and under the care of enigmatic psychiatrist, Dr Peter Lakmaker, we begin to unravel the traumas of Robin’s life.

We learn of his possible involvement in not one but four murders, all acts of vengeance, all of which he could have committed.

Lakmaker also treats Jane Foster, a 16-year-old who runs away from home after being sexually abused by her adoptive father. Jane traces her birth mother, is involved in a loveless marriage as she searches for the family she was denied as a child and eventually settles into a long-term gay relationship. She and Robin meet in the year 2000, when she starts working in his business and we finally begin to unravel some of the truths hidden inside both their lives.

I have a feeling there’s even more to discover…

Along the way, we learn of the mysterious Ouroborous bracelet Robin found as a teenager and the impact it has exerted on his life. We meet Krait, a disturbing character who is also counselled by Lakmaker and Kraits revelations about Robin and Jane lead us into the harrowing but plausible climax.

My word. The Snake That Bites Its Tail sounds very profound as well as an incredible read.

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

My working life was spent in magazine publishing, the past thirty years running my own business involving food and drink magazines, awards, exhibitions, training programmes all to do with fine food and drink. In 2000, Hamlyn published my Cheese Handbook, a very personal selection of my 80 favourite cheeses.

Did you say cheese? You can come again. I love cheese!

Over the course of 35 years, my business has become a leading influencer in the world of artisan food and drink. We set up the World Cheese Awards, now the largest and most important global cheese event. Each year, it is held in a different country although this year, perversely, it was scheduled to be held in Kiev but has now been rearranged for Wales. We set up The Great Taste Awards, the most respected independent food accreditation scheme in the world, where some 15,000 different food and drink products are assessed each year.

Oh. I know a woman who’d be happy to act as a judge. Just saying…

One significant event during my career was the real stimulus for The Snake that Bites its Tail.  The disastrous business failure I suffered in the early 1990’s which is graphically depicted in the novel prompted me to turn to 19th century philosophy for guidance and ultimately prompted me to write the novel. Understanding the motivation behind vengeance, how and why it has rarely ever been controlled and has inspired philosophers to argue mankind’s behaviour is mostly instinctive and involves little or no free will.

This in turn pushed me to examine the wider implication of life and death, faith and non-faith and time as a circular dimension.

While finishing the novel gave me great satisfaction, I believe what I truly enjoyed more was the learning process. I had written 1500 articles on food and drink for years, but the disciplines involved in creating a 100,000-word book are entirely different. Literary festivals, online courses and some very critical but nevertheless constructive editors all helped me gain understanding of techniques needed for character building, dialogue, pace and engaging the reader. The learning curve was sharp but fascinating.

I imagine it was Bob. I think you sound the living embodiment of ‘What doesn’t break us, makes us stronger’! Thanks so much for staying in with me to chat about the fascinating sounding The Snake That Bites Its Tail. I think you should serve up some cheese and I’ll give Linda’s Book Bag readers a few more details.

The Snake That Bites Its Tail

In 1965, nineteen-year-old Robin Farnham believes he ran over an old man but on stopping his car, finds no body, merely a gold bracelet of a snake biting its tail.

In 1981, sixteen-year-old Jane Foster is sexually abused by her adoptive father and attacks him before fleeing to London where she consults Dr Peter Lakmaker, a psychiatrist.

In 2021, now retired, Farnham is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and prescribed a drug on clinical trial. He attempts suicide but awakes in hospital to be told he is suspected of murder. Protected from the police by Dr Lakmaker, Robin is encouraged to write about his life to monitor the new drug’s effectiveness.

Over a period of half a century, Robin and Jane’s lives are interrelated although it is not until the year 2000, they finally meet. Robin’s quest for the truth behind his involvement in not one, but three murders and Jane’s tormented search for her birth parents and the close family relationship denied her as a child are muddied by the strangely prophetic Oroborous bracelet Robin wears and the appearance of the vengeance seeking Krait.

Separating fact from fiction has rarely presented more of a challenge, for the characters in the story or the reader.

The Snake That Bites Its Tail was published by Matador on 22nd February 2022 and is available in all the usual places including here. The author’s proceeds are all donated to the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation.

About Bob Farrand

During half a century in magazine publishing, Bob Farrand launched the Guild of Fine Food; published the magazines Fine Good Digest and Good Cheese; created the Great Taste Awards alongside the World Cheese Awards and trained over 20,000 UK staff working behind cheese counters in specialist food retailers and supermarkets. In 2000 he wrote The Cheese Handbook (Hamlyn) a personal selection of eighty great cheeses. Bob lives near Shaftesbury, Dorset, with his wife Linda. The Snake that Bites its Tale is his first novel.

You can follow Bob on Twitter @bobsfoodblog and Instagram.

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