Mike Interviews: Paul Torday part 2 of 2


Part 1 of this interview can be read here.

You gratefully acknowledge Robert Parker, author of Bordeaux: The Comprehensive Guide, in helping you write. How much hands on research did you do for the book?!

I drink wine most days, but unfortunately rarely of the quality that Wilberforce drank.

What would be a favorite wine of yours?

White wine: Gavi di Gavi, a delicious and fragrant Tuscan white wine which Robert Parker is very contemptuous of, but which we love. Red Wine: probably a Chinon, a red Loire wine that Parker is also dismissive about and Wilberforce would have thought beneath him. We enjoy it. Try it cold in the summer.

I will!

I've read that some critics don't think your new book will do as well as Salmon Fishing, as the first was a comedy and the second is more a tragedy. I am always baffled by Salmon Fishing being put in the comedy genre, as the humor in it doesn't for me define the book and it is not in some ways dissimilar to The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce. What is your view?

I am so glad you see the connecting threads. You are absolutely right that ‘Salmon’ is not intended as farce but funny-sad, and as much about the need for faith as anything. ‘Irresistible’ is about the illusion of choice- W. believes the world is at his feet but his future is determined by his genetic inheritance and there is not much he can do about it.

In the book sleeve it says, 'The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce is a dazzling, haunting story of obsession and addiction, of loyalty and betrayal.' Do you see Wilberforce then as the one who betrays his friends, or do you see it as his 'new' friends that betray him?

Wilberforce’s paranoia is a consequence of his delusional thinking: life never turns out, and people never behave, the way he thinks they ought to. He translates this as betrayal, but it is his inability to deal with real life that lets him down, and his own egocentricity makes him ready to sacrifice those he knows and thinks he loves, in order to pursue his own goals.

Paul Dunn in The Times said of your book, "Torday's concentrates so fully on its hero that the device simply denies us any dramatic tension. We know how Wilberforce's marriage, friendships and attempts to beat his addiction will end before we even learn of them." However, I thought the book was very clever. In it, Francis says, 'As soon as the wine is opened, it begins to die.' For me this mirrors your novel and I think the sadness of reflecting on how after Wilberforce has been 'released' by his friends he slowly dies pulls you back into the past to see what happened. How do you see it and how would you respond to Paul Dunn’s comment?

Rather as you have done! I deliberately used a device that Trollope used in his novel ‘Orley Farm’. He gives away the plot in the first page or two, but the book succeeds because it isn’t a Whodunnit? It is a Why Did He Do It?

How do you feel when you see negative comments like that in the press, do you want to explain and defend your book or are you happy to let the book stick up for itself?

As a matter of fact, so long as I get a review, I’m happy the book has been noticed. If it’s negative, I try to draw from it what I can by trying to see the problem from the critic’s point of view- it’s true to say one learns more from criticism than from praise. I must admit to a human weakness though: I enjoy praise more. As far as defending the book is concerned – I don’t see a need to defend it. Once I’ve sold the rights and it has been published, it’s not mine any more, it belongs to the reader, and they will either love it or hate it.

What advice would you give fellow writers?

It’s a job, and it’s a job I’m still learning about, so I haven’t any advice other than what I was told when I was taught to fish – You won’t catch a fish if your fly isn’t on the water. You won’t write a book if your fingers aren’t on the keyboard.

What do you make of the publishing industry today? Has it been an easy thing for you to break into or a hard slog and how did you feel once you secured an agent?

I had a lucky break finding an agent early on who was prepared to take a chance on me. I just left it all to him. As for the publishing industry today – I’m too new to the game to comment.

Have you started work on your third book and can you tell us anything about it?

My next book will be called ‘ Girl On The Landing’ – a much shorter title, by the way – and it is a story about someone suffering from psychotic delusions … or is he?

Thanks Paul, its has been a joy to have you on The View From Here and best of luck with the 'Girl On The Landing' - I look forward to reading it.

Enter the "Irresistible Competition" to get a chance to win Paul's new book here.

Monday: I talk to Paul's agent, Mark Stanton from Jenny Brown Associates.

Mike Interviews: Paul Torday part 1 of 2

Mike Interviews

Paul Torday is the award winning author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and now The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce.

Pull up a seat and listen to me chat to him about writing and his new book ...

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I am a late developer as a writer. For the first thirty odd years of my life I worked in engineering industry, for the last fifteen years in and around the oil and gas industry. I’m married with two sons by a previous marriage and two stepsons. We live in the North Tyne valley.

What's your ideal night out/in?

My ideal night is definitely in, not out, sitting by the fire in the company of Penelope, my wife, and our two dogs, spending a couple of hours trying (and usually failing) to finish the quick crossword.

What is your favorite book?

Really difficult to answer- there are so many I love. I return again and again to ‘Can You Forgive Her?” by Anthony Trollope.

When did you start writing?

In 2002 right after some friends and I had sold a business we had an investment in. I found myself with an unexpected amount of spare time and decided after thirty years in industry to try something new. Not absolutely new: I’d tried to write in my early twenties but it never quite took off.

Was selling your business the inspiration for Wilberforce who sells his company to start a new life?

It helped that I understood the world of industry (although not software) but I was not consciously thinking about my own experiences at the time.

Your new book, "The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce", has a long title with the same number of words as "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." Was it hard to come up with the title and what are your thoughts on what makes a good book title? Is it for example best to choose one that gets the book of the shelves, or one that after reading you see perfectly fits the book?

I guess the title, and the cover, are all about getting the uncommitted book buyer to pick it up from amongst all the others on the table, and have a look.

How would you respond to the criticism from some that these titles are to long?

It’s a matter of taste. What is too long? I’m trying to get the reader to think ‘What on earth is that all about?'

In what way did writing your new book differ from your experience of writing Salmon Fishing in the Yemen?

When I wrote ‘Salmon’ I never for a moment thought it would be published so I wrote it without any consciousness of the difficulties of sustaining a multi-voice plot using e mails and letters. When I wrote the ‘Irresistible’ book I was far more aware, and more apprehensive, of the pitfalls of trying to write a novel.

Where you nervous after the huge success of Salmon Fishing, that the 'difficult' second book would be received well?

I was and I am nervous in one way. In another way, the whole business of suddenly being a published author is such a bonus that I can live with the anxieties.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of the interview, where Paul talks about wine, Wilberforce and book 3.

Friday: Paul's agent Mark Stanton talks to me about his work.

Enter the "Irresistible Competition" to get a chance to win Paul's new book here.

For this interview in the printed edition of TFVH visit here.

The Irresistible Competition

Competition Time!

WIN THE HARDBACK OF The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce SENT TO ME FOR REVIEW.
(Mint condition just one owner!)

Then the image vanished and letters started moving endlessly across the screen from left to right: TNMWWTTW ... TNMWWTTW ... TNMWWTTW ... My bag in my hand, the fine, warm drizzle moistening my face like tears, I stared up at the sign, trying to recall its meaning.
An exert from The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce, by Paul Torday.


TNMWWTTW is a mnemonic that Wilberforce uses to remember a dramatic incident in his life.

Come up with your own phrase to fit the letters above, like for example ...

The northward migrating whales will tickle their women.

Leave your answer as a comment, make sure you leave a way of me contacting you should you win, and the best one wins the prize!

Competition closes: Wed 5th March.

Come on your know you can't resist!

Part 1 of my interview with Paul Torday tomorrow!


Another Vintage from Torday

The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce

by Paul Torday

"It was the fruit in the garden that turned, in the end, to ashes in my mouth."

Paul Torday's follow up to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, shows him to be that rare author who can write literary prose that makes you want to stop and savour the flavours and yet can also weave a great story so that you end up wanting to glug back the book at the same time.

"I took a sip again and rolled the liquid around on my palate, to savour its complex flavours."

He also side-steps the pit that some other authors have recently fallen into with their "difficult" second book and delivered a cracking novel.

The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce introduces Wilberforce, an intelligent software developer who has built up his own business, enjoying a bottle of 1982 Chateau Petrus (£3000 a bottle!)

The sommelier took a step back - "The Chateau Petrus? Monsieur is quite certain?"

and then pulls back the veil to reveal a man with little emotional intelligence about to self destruct.
How has he got to the point of death?
What changed in his life from years of working late at the office building up his company?
The answer is friendship.
And the answer is explored as Paul takes you back in time to unfold the tragic fall.

"Poor Wilberforce," she said. "You've no idea how to be a human being at all, have you?"

It is a book that is clever and has a heart and a charm that reminded me of why I love reading so much. If you like the experience of reading a book that pushes away the world around you and lulls you into its embrace, with only the smell and rustle of paper to remind you of your surroundings, then buy this now and enjoy.

"Do you ever have that feeling? Have you had that absolute sense of conviction: that after all, life is going to turn out really well for you?"

Paul Torday lives in Northumberland and has travelled the Middle East for the last 10 years whilst working as an engineer.

Audio extract

Coming next:

Competition Time

My exclusive Interview with Paul on The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce in which he talks about
the book,
the wine he likes
and the title (originally called Bordeaux!)

Paul Torday Week at The View From Here

Well this week it is Paul Torday week at The View From Here.

Paul Torday is the award winning author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce.

Watch him here:

So what's in store?

Well a post each day this week.

Later today: A review of Paul's new book, The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce.

Tuesday: Competition Time with a chance to win some prizes!

Wednesday toThursday: Parts 1 to 2 of my interview with Paul Torday where he talks about his new book, writing and drinking wine!

Friday: I talk to Paul's agent, Mark Stanton about his work.

It's going to be good.

See you later for the review of Paul's new book. In the meantime here is some comments from the critics:

"Remarkably, given the bleakness of both subject and hero, it is an incredibly good read."

Marianne MacDonald DAILY TELEGRAPH

"grows more and more poignant as the novel progresses.. satisfyingly full-bodied and slips down a treat."


Flower Smellers Awards

Well as one of the Founders at GO! Smell the Flowers, I get to award 5 people the Flower Smellers Award.

Be thankful it is me and not Vic Reeves presenting this community award ...

Want to see what you get?

This badge serves to acknowledge others who are, in their own way, smelling the flowers. They maybe regular visitors to GO! Smell the Flowers, The View From Here or someone that could contribute at Flowers and who is yet to visit! Maybe they have recovered from an illness, written a book, made waves in the blogosphere, won the lottery, made a major shift in their life, won promotion, quit the rat race, raising a family, discovering their greatness and on it GO!s as more examples from around the world start to surface.

So (drum roll) I'd like to present the honorary title of Flower Smeller to the following 5 people. (Get off Vic)

1) Emma French: She's my better half and can be found smelling the flowers site during her lunchbreaks. I won't say anything more so not to embarrass her, but it's enough to say she carries on with a GO! attitude in the fiercest of storms. I'm glad we're in the boat together.

2) Paul Burman: He's finally made it with his sixth book, The Snowing & Greening of Thomas Passmore which is published next month, by Paperbooks. Persverance and hard work and a belief in what you are doing is Flower smelling stuff. Well done Paul.

3) Stella Carter: She writes a blog called StellaScript,likes Haiku and has a good sense of humour. She currently is "facing the challenge of filling out (her) profile." GO! make it a good one Stella!

4) Dawn at AntiBarbie.net, who when she won a writing competition spent the winnings on her kids.

5) Kathleen Maher who as a young mother, wrote while her children napped, and had some early success getting short stories published. She then began working on novels, which "has been a solitary occupation and so far fruitless, at least in terms of publication, " but has keep going and found life and awards in the blogosphere for her book, "Diary of a Heretic".

You 5 can now GO! award this badge to 5 other flower smellers of your choice! All I ask is when you do you contact Go! Smell the Flowers and let us know the 5 you choose so we can add them to the Flower Smeller section of this community and people don’t award the same folks.

Here are the list of rules to the blogs you are tagging for flower smellers:

1. If you are awarded the flower smeller badge then pop the flower smeller badge up at your blog and award it to 5 others by writing a post with links to the 5 blogs or websites that you choose.

2. You can award this badge to a maximum of 5 people per month from now until eternity as and when you come across more flower smellers.

3. Link your post to where the award started over at Go! Smell the Flowers so people can find their way to Go! Smell the Flowers community.

4. Proudly display the Flower Smeller award with a link to this post announcing your award.

5. All flower smellers - be prepared to be approached to write a 500 word account of yourself to feature in our 2009 book - The Flower Smellers that some of founders will be featuring in - here’s a few examples we prepared earlier, in PDF format for now over at The Flower Smellers page. As badges are awarded we’ll add you to our blogroll of ‘Flower Smellers’ and also include the links in the page, the flower smellers.

So, there we have it! Please accept your award here in comments and then award it to 5 other flowers smellers of your choice - when you’ve awarded the badge do remember to contact Flowers with the details.

Now get off the stage Vic!

Continue the Story: The Winner & Final Story

'Oh, I don’t know. I suppose this was the one where you've made another deal with the devil who's really your father.'

be still
One Story. Twelve Writers.

Well the Continue The Story competition is now closed. And that means we have a cracking story called 'be still,' co-written by 12 people, all of which brought something to the story that made it something it could have never have been with one author!

I loved reading it as it unfolded and as far as the experiment goes, I was delighted; the standard was very high. So then what are you waiting for?

Click here
to see the winner who takes home $80 in Amazon Vouchers and to read the story.

Coming Soon: Paul Torday Interview

In November I reviewed Paul Torday's debut book, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

The hardback edition was No 1 in the spring of 2007, and the paperback was one of that year's Richard and Judy Summer reads. It has since sold in 19 countries and won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for Comic Fiction.

Now I am really excited to announce that he has agreed to do an interview for The View From Here on his new book, The Irresistible Inheritance Of Wilberforce.

I received the book today for review from his publisher, so I'm looking forward to reading it and will conduct the interview when I have finished.


Mike goes to the Movie Premiere of Go! Founders Film

Wow, I'm out of my shed and at the Hollywood premier of the GO! Smell the Flowers Film.

It was amazing and I saw Renée Zellweger, Megan Fox and Jessica Alba.

Had to go back into my shed though when Jessica said she thought it was boring.

To see the whole film at GO! Smell the Flowers, click here.