Google+ Followers

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nickie's Ten Questions to Paul Doherty

Ever heard of this author? Paul lives and works in London, where he is head of a school and also a dedicated writer of historical suspense. He situates his crime novels either in ancient Egypt or the Middle Ages.
I mostly prefer the Egyptian mysteries. I once did an interview with Paul, and he was very friendly in obliging - even sent me a signed copy of his latest novel!
Here are the ten questions I asked him, and his replies:

1) Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have always wanted to be an author; ever since I was knee high to a buttercup I liked telling stories. I lived in my imagination!

2) Obviously, you have a deep interest in history. How did you develop this?
I was born in Middlesbrough in the North east, a rather grim town. I was always fascinated by books and the cinema. I remember watching a Victor Mature Film, “Demetrius and the Gladiators” in colour! I must have been about seven or eight at the time. The next day I persuaded a friend to run away with me. We packed our sandwiches and started to walk to Rome to become gladiators! Naturally we didn’t get there but I feel I am still walking there many years later. I read everything on history. I was fascinated by Walter Scott, Conan Doyle, Dickens and the great French historical writers Dumas, Hugo and Flaubert. I then studied for three years to be a priest [I never became one!]. I had a great love of Ancient Middle East literature, particularly the poems etc of the 18th to the 20th Dynasty.

3) At what age did you write your first novel?
I actually wrote my first novel about 25 years ago – ‘The Death of a King’. This was a result of further research, after Durham I went to Liverpool University where I received a B.A. Hons. [Class 1] in History and won a scholarship to Oxford to do my doctorate on the Reign of Edward II. I had, therefore, well prepared myself.

4) Were you successful in your first attempt at publication?
I was pretty successful, perhaps, due to luck. A UK publisher Robert Hale, took my first novel and then I was taken over one of UK’s largest publishers, Hodder Headline. I am pleased that I am now published in another 23 countries.

5) How are your novels received by the public?
In the main, thank God, my novels are well received by the public. I am grateful for that. I give every novel my best shot. When people ask me: ‘What do you think is your best novel?’ I always say, the last!

6) Can you deal with criticism?
Yes, I think I can deal with criticism. I am a headmaster of a very large north east London Comprehensive, that certainly toughens you up. People have every right to criticise. My only response to anything negative is; “I am sorry you didn’t like it but I truly tried my level best.”

7) Isn't it difficult to combine a writer's career with a daytime job as Headmaster of a North London school?
I don’t find it difficult to combine my two careers. They say we spend a third of our time day dreaming, I think I am very lucky, I spend most of it writing or creating.

8) You write more than one series of mysteries. Brother Athelstan, Hugh Corbett, the Ancient Egyptian mysteries, ... Don't you ever get confused between characters?
I do write different series but I only write what I have researched. Accordingly, I don’t get confused. For an Egyptian Novel, I try and get myself into the mindset, conjure up the images and contrasts of Ancient Egypt, the heat of the day, the cold of the night, their fascination with death and its rituals etc. Once I am in that mindset, I do find it relatively easy. I think you owe it to your reader to say ‘look I am going to take you back in time’ and the author must do his, or her, level best to achieve that.

9) I once heard someone compare you to the late Ellis Peeters. What do you think of that?
Ellis Peters was a great writer naturally I am very flattered.

10) Do you read mystery novels yourself?
I am afraid I don’t read many mystery novels now. I do read a lot of non-fiction. I am constantly going back to original sources, to try and catch what I call the ‘music’ of that period. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel of a certain time in history. Each era, every culture has its own rhythm and the primary sources, be it poetry, chronicles, inscriptions etc provide that.

No comments:

Post a Comment