Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I am very happy to welcome Paul Clayton to my blog today and thank him for kindly answering my questions. I have to say that I continue to find it intriguing to discover how he and other authors are inspired and actually get to write their books – I don’t think any two authors have ever given the same answers and Paul’s answer to to my third question is, I believe, a total first! Read on to discover more about his writing, himself and his latest book. There’s even a chance to enter a rafflecopter giveaway to have the opportunity to win yourself a copy of this book! Good luck – please let me know if you win!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
Having written two non-fiction books about acting, I was very keen to write the sort of book that I like to read. Something that kept people turning the pages with an element of mystery and thriller about it. I went on a kick start your novel course with the fantastic Jane Wenham Jones at Chez Castillon (https://www.chez-castillon.com). On our first morning we did an exercise in pairs where we told each other a story about breaking the law. I was paired with an ex-CID officer from Merseyside who was fantastic, and she got this incident out of me that had happened when I was a young actor. That was the starting point for “The Punishment”. What if I had said yes?
What is your writing process?
I’m good if I’m working to deadlines, but not long deadlines. So, I do use a piece of software that gives me a writing target for each day and an end target for the manuscript. If I have to be very creative, I am better in the early morning, although my idea of early morning doesn’t really start until 9 AM. I will look at the words I have already got down and do some editing and then build on that until I’ve achieved my daily target. Routine is a great help. There have been lots of days during lockdown as I’m writing my second book where the last thing I have wanted to do is sit down and write. I also give myself at least one day off each week
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
My handwriting has always been terrible. My mother used to sit me down after school and make me do calligraphy copy books, but anybody who looks at my scrawl in a theatre rehearsal room knows that I should really have been a doctor. So, the advent of the computer age was a boon except that my typing is appalling. All hail then to the voice-activated software world. From rather dicey beginnings it’s got better and better. 25 years ago, alongside an actress friend of mine, Janet Ellis, we demonstrated voice activated software at a computer fair. All went well at rehearsal. First full audience and the demonstrator sits at her computer and said something innocuous such as “good morning. This is how to dictate a letter.” Up on the screen behind us appeared the phrase “ Anti-Semitic Nazis at Tesco”. Both of us were helpless. Mercifully now things are much better. I go on a long walk most afternoons and talk my story through to a Dictaphone. I then plug that into my computer and have a program which transcribes it and then the following morning I will look at what it has transcribed, which will not be perfect, and that is the start of my writing for the day.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
I have to be very careful here as a lot of people in “The Punishment” are based on people I know. My goddaughter told me I had no understanding of a teenage goddaughter. I had to tell her that she was a story function. Some of the characters just pop up as needed and one of my favourites is Dan’s neighbour, Mrs Vasconcelles. She absolutely was my neighbour downstairs when this incident happened. I didn’t really know her very well, so I’ve taken a bit of licence and made her into a cross between Mrs Malaprop and Miss Marple. She adds to the comedy, which was something I was very keen stayed in the story, and yet is vital to the plot.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
People have read the story and seen a likeness between me and the hero, but I think he’s far too adventurous and handsome to be me. I think I’d like to be Grayson, the nefarious undertaker who gets dragged into proceedings. He was a character I had great fun with, and the person he’s based on is a good friend…. And an undertaker. And he’s a lovely man, so yes, that’s who I plumped for.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
When I left drama school as a young actor in the 1970s, we all had to think what our name might be in case Equity didn’t allow us to use our real name. So, the sound of a name became very important to me. I think it’s very important in plays as you make decisions about a character by their name. In the first draft, I was a little too clever with some names and a novelist friend of mine who read it said it sounded like I was making up anagrams, so I went back and slimmed them down. I’d like to think that on hearing or seeing the name, you immediately learn something about the person. I’m not sure what the name Paul Clayton says to people, but I’m hoping it means good stories.
Thank you for answering my questions, Paul!
Read on to find out more about his book, The Punishment, himself and to have the opportunity to enter the rafflecopter giveaway!
What do you do when you are an ex-soap star down on your luck and running out of money?
For Daniel Maple, a chance meeting in a nightclub presents him with an offer he finds hard to refuse…
But crime makes you pay.
And someone, somewhere, wants you punished.
Clayton is an actor best known for his appearances as Ian Chapman in five series of the awardwinning Channel 4 comedy Peep Show and as Graham in two series of the BAFTA winning comedy Him and Her. Other credits include Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Holby City as well as This is Alan Partridge, Doctor Who, The Crown, Vera, Wolf. He is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
His previous books are So You Want To Be A Corporate Actor? and The Working Actor and he is a regular columnist in The Stage.
He is a proud patron of Grimm and Co, the children’s literacy charity, based in his home town of Rotherham.
Giveaway to Win 5 x E-copies of The Punishment (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the link to the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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Many thanks to Paul Clayton for answering my questions and to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of.