Today I am on the Blog Tour for The Invisible Tightrope and I am here with an author interview for you all.
Before I share that though, here’s some information on the book.
Title: The Invisible Tightrope Author: Robert Haywood Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 11th May 2021 Format: Paperback Source: N/A Summary: Leaving the comfortable tranquility of life in a Nottinghamshire village, academically gifted Christian Henderson, the only child of high-achieving parents goes to university to study philosophy.
Intoxicated by the joys of learning and wrestling with complex ideas, he believes he will progress to a career in academic research.
Persuaded by a female student on his course to undertake some charitable work in Ghana during the summer holiday to help build a school, the experience of living in a rural community and interacting with its people challenges his values and beliefs, disrupts his sense of self and turns the course of his life in a completely different direction.
What is your favourite thing about writing fiction books? The Invisible Tightrope is my debut novel.
There is not a single thing, rather a multiplicity.
Learning something new interests me immensely, and I have had to learn about the craft of writing fiction with no prior experience – I still have a great deal to learn.
I enjoy having a few core ideas in mind, exploring them, developing them and seeing where the story takes me, letting the plot evolve. This approach gets my creative juices flowing, opening up opportunities and challenges for the characters.
I like the solitude of writing and spending concentrated periods ‘doing it for me’ rather than working for my business clients. Writing for me has a therapeutic dimension – it provides contrast to the ‘day job’.
I also like researching locations and projecting myself into them and the varied lives of the people. I try to immerse myself, imagine people’s lives, and consider their characteristics, attitudes, values, and beliefs. I also research the food and imagine the smells? Immersion means engaging all the senses and describing what it feels like to be there- I think this adds depth and authenticity to your writing.
I enjoy creating characters and placing them in social contexts and conversations to reveal their personalities, emotional states, values and attitudes.
Who is your favourite character in your book, and why? The novel revolves around my protagonist, Christian Henderson. He is a kind, sensitive, considerate, intellectually gifted and highly reflective young man with a good sense of humour. However, good people are not protected or spared from life’s trials – unpleasant and testing things happen, which is true for Christian.
I am also very fond of ‘Spoons’ (his friend at uni) as he a teaser and a joker, and his personality contrast with Christian’s.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing? Copious volumes of tea do it for me while writing – boring.
However, a reflective bottle of red ‘of an evening’ in my garden releases my mind to consider possibilities/alternatives and sometimes provides a little courage for a chapter re-think.
Do you have any bad habits while you are writing? No – should I?
When I ‘enter the zone’, time flies and I sometimes get caught out in not doing my domestic chores on time.
How did you research your book? Most of my research focused on Ghana – its capital city, Accra, the town of Koforidua and the Akuapen Hills, where Christian goes to undertake his charitable work helping to build a primary school in a village. I used Google Earth to walk the streets and pick up the ‘colour’ of the environments.
General Google searches of Ghana revealed some nuggets. For example, Bob Marley’s wife has returned to the country of her ancestors and lives a few miles from where I created my fictional village in the Akuapen Hills. She has released a reggae album and set up an educational foundation to encourage local school children to learn and gain qualifications. I made use of this information in a chapter.
I also had to research the threads of philosophy in the novel as Christian goes to university to study it.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A bit of both. I write with a story arc in mind, so I have a sense of where the novel is going. I like the metaphor of imagining oneself driving into a dense fog with only one headlight working, trying to get where you think you want to go: unforeseen situations can lurk in the fog, or you may have to take a diversion.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why? I would live in the fictional world of Donna Leon’s Venice. I love the City and know it quite well. It is a place of great contrasts, and its cultural assets are immense. It assaults the senses, so beware of Stendahl’s syndrome:
I was in a sort of ecstasy. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty … I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations … Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call ‘nerves’. Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.’
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why? I would choose police commissar Guido Brunetti, a detective working in Venice, from Donna Leon’s books. I envisage being a close professional friend accompanying him in delving into the darker side of the City, solving the crimes while enjoying one of my favourite places on the planet. I’ve been six times. On one visit, map in hand, my wife humoured me as we searched for some of the places he frequents – those based in reality.
About the Author
I was raised on a social housing estate in the 1950/60s by supportive and hard-working parents. Having been shown the basics of reading phonetically, I took control and became a prodigious reader. My imagination was propelled into new worlds by classic children’s stories such as Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. I recall that after ‘lights out’ at bedtime, I read by torchlight under my bedsheets until sleep took over or the batteries died.
Having gained entry into a local grammar school, I decided I wanted to become a teacher. Ambition realised, I gravitated into educational research. My first significant piece of writing was my Masters Thesis – produced on a mechanical typewriter with an ink ribbon: we have it easy these days.
The first 20 years of my working life were spent in secondary schools as a science teacher, progressing towards school leadership. While a science teacher, educational publishers commissioned me to write materials to promote new teaching methods and assessing pupils. I ceased after seventeen titles.
In 1998 I ‘jumped ship’ from a well-paid school leadership role to set up my training and consultancy business. I aimed to support organisations in the Midlands to become more successful by investing in their people’s learning and development. I still operate in this line of work and write commercial products for businesses and schools.
I regard my fiction reading and writing as a treat in counterbalancing the demands of running my own business. My favourite authors are Hermann Hesse, Julian Barnes and Donna Leon. By contrast, I like to read philosophy and theology – I’m currently wading my way through the entire works of Soren Kierkegaard, regarded by academics as the founder of ‘existentialism’.
My favourite places to read are on sunbeds (blissful), train journeys, and a pile of novels sit next to my bed – no torchlight required now.
I have come to fiction writing late in life, by accident, not design. I admit to having a great deal to learn about the craft and subscribe to Jericho Writers. I have also joined the Fosseway Writers Group, based in Newark on Trent, Nottinghamshire. These have been a wise investment.
I have learnt to carry a small notepad with me on my travels and while driving to client meetings as one never knows when inspiration will strike or you might pick up a gem of an idea from a radio programme.
I live in a village in North Nottinghamshire with my wife, Joanne and Rufus, our cockapoo, whose boundless energy and sheer enthusiasm for life inspire me.