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.


Helen Ginger said...

Very interesting interview. And I really love the final comment by Paul for today. "...the whole business of suddenly being a published author is such a bonus that I can live with the anxieties."

Paul Burman said...

As Helen says, that's an interesting comment to end Part One on. Nice interview, Mike. Look forward to the rest.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mike,
I never cease to be amazed at you ability to attract quality authors to your table for a sit down. Great job, Mike.

Mike French said...

Helen: Yes, always a bonus having a great debut book behind you, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen def falls into that category.

Paul: Part 2 later today!

Mr Grudge: If you don't ask, you don't get! I was thrilled that Paul said yes, trying not to act like a groupie and remain professional!