Thursday, July 16, 2020

Homeward Bound by Richard Smith - Book Tour

Homeward Bound
Homeward Bound features 79-year-old grandfather George, who didn’t quite make it as a rock star in the ‘60s. He’s expected to be in retirement but in truth he’s not ready to close the lid on his dreams and will do anything for a last chance. When he finds himself on a tour of retirement homes instead of a cream tea at the seaside his family has promised, it seems his story might prematurely be over.
He finds the answer by inviting Tara, his 18-year-old granddaughter, to share his house, along with his memories and vast collection of records. She is an aspiring musician as well, although her idea of music is not George’s. What unfolds are clashes and unlikely parallels between the generations – neither knows nor cares how to use a dishwasher – as they both chase their ambitions.
Author Q&AYour kryptonite as an author?You’ll probably be able to tell me once you’ve read my book! Thinking no-one will like what I’m writing freezes me! In my time, I’ve been offered too many dud manuscripts and photographs that their creators thought magnificent. I worry I might be as deluded. And age. I have lots of ideas but if every book takes three or so years, there’s not much time left!

If you can tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Get started sooner. If I’d started earlier I’d have had more time to develop a writing career. But how, when you need to work and earn money? And find someone independent who will read your work (it may cost money). They will give you an objective opinion and steer you away from the common mistakes.

What book do you feel is under appreciated? How about overrated?
Underappreciated - Simon Van Boys, Fathers Day – at least I don’t think it was a best seller. It was a book that gave me the courage to write Homeward Bound as it’s a very moving novel about people and relationships. Over-rated? If people like something even if I don’t, how can I knock success? Only if it’s success that appears to come solely through reputation and money.

What is your favourite childhood memory involving books?
 I used to be in the public library on a very regular basis and cart away bags of heavy hardbacks, much to the amusement of the librarian. And I can remember clearly walking along a road with a pile of Arthur Ransome’s and someone laughing at me (in a nice way), calling me ‘a book worm’.

What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) if given the chance?
I can’t believe how lucky I am to be writing now. So this world would be it (minus the hay fever!)

Did you want to be an author when you grew up?
I was always writing as a child. I started school magazines from the age of about nine. My problem was I ran into an unforgiving English grammar school system where the teachers thought it more important that you memorised Shakespeare and regurgitated set texts rather than encouraging creative writing. It took me over fifty years to get back the confidence to write a novel.

If you had to describe yourself in three words what would they be?
Is this how I want people to see me or how I think I? On a good day, happy, creative, inquisitive. On a bad day tediously loquacious (does that count as one word),  impatient and overly competitive.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?
Hard to say something’s unusual because I don’t know what other people do, but maybe that I write in long hand, using the back of envelopes and abandoned versions of previous manuscripts. I also need coffee and a chocolate biscuit to get started.

What’s one movie you like recommending to others? 
People recommend movies to me and I invariably hate them. I recently recommended Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and those people hated it. Best not to recommend!

If you could own any animal has a pet what would it be?
My daughter has adopted a retired greyhound.  If you want an animal that is wonderful with children and gets admiring glances as you walk down the street, then a greyhound is perfect. The way they run is just magnificent. But they demand a strict routine, which isn’t me at all. I’ll make do with the birds, newts and frogs that inhabit my little urban garden!

Have you ever met anyone famous?
In my work as film producer I’ve worked with many people who are – or were - famous, from A-listers to up-and-coming at the time. Too many to remember, let alone list. But when you’re working with them, they are colleagues and their fame is irrelevant. My job was to get them to be comfortable, confident and perform well. The only time I really noticed they were famous (and that I was not) is when we in pubs together and somebody came over and asked to take their photograph . . . and I had to get out of the way.

How long on average does it take to write a book?
This one about seventy years! In time spent on the manuscript, about eighteen months of concentrated writing, re-editing and finessing. Second one I’m working on now has taken about six months to get to the end of the first draft.

How do you select the names of your characters?
It’s really hard. You don’t want to pick one people will think is them. I find a walk round a churchyard helps, especially with popular names of the sort of age of the characters I’m trying to name.

If you last person on earth, what would you do?
That all depends on how I got to be the last remaining person. What kind of state is the world in? Would I be looking for survivors? Family? I’d be too stressed to listen to music, even if there was electricity. I was once had a picnic with families from my daughter’s nursery and all the parents came from the bubble that is North London. I looked around and there was a comedy TV scriptwriter, a journalist, an actor, an artist, an accountant, a lawyer and me. And I thought, if the world ended now and we were the only survivors, we’d have no chance of surviving! Though we could make a reality film out of it.

Any advice for aspiring writer?
My own experience is that it’s almost impossible to complete a novel if you’re doing a full-time job. You so easily forget the thread of where you are, and your daytime activities break the link between you and your characters. Which isn’t very helpful advice as people need to work to survive! Maybe if you can be alone, take yourself off to somewhere remote for couple of weeks. Plus, get help from an independent editor or writer. They’ll be honest and can point you at rules of fiction you can’t break as a first-time writer.

10 fun facts about myself.
1) A have an original ‘60s jukebox (a Rock-Ola)
2) I have a very large collection of records that I once tried to catalogue but gave up at ABBA
3) I played a Messenger in a school play of The Government Inspector (Nikolai Gogol). I had one word to say and I missed my cue.
4) I made films that I thought would make a positive difference – and then found two of them playing in a British Library summer exhibition, Propaganda!
5) We travelled to Cameroon and then travelled to hundreds of miles across country to film in a remote location, and then found the airline had left the camera in London.
6) I travelled across Australia with no clothes. My suitcase got lost in transit and I spent ten days, interviewing people across the continent as part of a project, wearing only my travelling clothes and things people gave me. On my last day, my suitcase turned up and was loaded straight into the plane for me to take back to London.
7) Whenever I turn on the radio to listen to a football commentary, my team (Arsenal) concedes a goal.
8) I made a blood doning film to star Rowan Atkinson. Except the day before, his agent called to say Rowan was ill and was unlikely to make it. We hastily auditioned a replacement and after about twenty takes in the morning, we nailed it. Then just as we were about to leave after lunch, Rowan walked in and, ill or not, gave a perfect performance. Which was lucky, as I later discovered the sound recordist had accidentally erased the morning’s recordings!
9) People write on an online forum about the sophisticated visual effects used to create a Blade Runner look in a commercial I worked on. It wasn’t. It was a man frantically running across the back of the set with a lamp.
10) My wife thinks it’s extraordinarily funny that anyone could think there’s anything about me that’s ‘fun’. She’s still doubled up laughing now!

If you could live in any time period what would it be and why is?
I would really like to go back and see Victorian England developing. But it needs to be a visit and in fast-forward. In real time, it was probably dangerous, squalid and unpleasant. I look at buildings with date plaques and think how many people who saw them unveiled went on to die in the First World War. An invisible observer is the only way. If I lived back to 1065, another interesting period, I expect I’d have died of the plague and if not, had my home destroyed the next year. Because whatever else is wrong in the world today, we are probably the most privileged generation ever.

What is your favourite genre to read?
My taste is eclectic. I’m not a particularly keen crime reader. I tend to browse book shops and libraries and take anything that matches my mood of the day.

Author BioRichard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials, with subjects as varied as caring for the elderly, teenage pregnancies, communities in the Niger delta, anti- drug campaigns and fighting organised crime. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.

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