BBB: What inspired you to become an author?
DE: I was coming up to retirement, back in 2008, and looking for a new challenge. I have loads of hobbies – mainly swimming, sailing and reading – but I wanted to do something that would make me feel still useful though maybe a bit less stressful than my previous work as a union negotiator. I still do some voluntary work but that wasn’t enough either. And then I thought about the fact that I’ve been “writing” for most of my life, one way or the other, and wondered whether I should think about creative writing. As it happens, I already had the germ of a story floating about in my head. I’d been working in Manchester (England) and come across the story of the town’s involvement in our 1745 Jacobite Rebellion – and I was shocked that nobody had already turned it into a novel. So I started to work on some characters and basic plot lines. I loved it, found a routine that suited me and, eighteen months later, I had a 650-page blockbuster on my hands.
DE: I like to tell those stories that I wish somebody else had written for me but that, so far, have been overlooked. So they’re usually periods of history that I particularly enjoy but that – in my humble opinion – have been a bit neglected by fiction writers or, perhaps, only normally told from a particular perspective. So, for example, there’ve been lots of Bonnie Prince Charlie books but none that dealt with his supporters “south of the border” in England, so the idea was born for The Jacobites’ Apprentice. And then I wanted to write about the Spanish Civil War but most fiction on the subject tends to be a bit predictable – until I came across the previously untold story of battlefield tourism during the conflict that gave rise to The Assassin’s Mark. Similarly, the 1879 Zulu War has been a bit neglected by writers and especially the final six months, so this gave me a possible setting for The Kraals of Ulundi. Once I had the setting, I decided to tell at least part of the tale from a Zulu perspective and, once I’d invented the main character, Shaba kaNdabuko, it was simply a matter of letting him loose and following wherever he led me. The fourth book is a bit the same, the Battle of Waterloo, but told through the eyes of French women who fought there in The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour.
DE: Not really. I follow fairly a strict daily routine that goes something like this. I start work at 7.00 each morning by word-processing my hand-written copy from the previous day. That gets me started and, by the time I’ve finished, the story just keeps going from wherever I left off until I stop at about 9.30. Then it’s off to the local pool where I swim a mile and mull over the stuff I’ve just written. By 11.00 I’m in one of my favourite cafés drinking decent coffee, checking over the morning’s work, making simple corrections and then hand-writing for a couple of hours (the pages that will then start me word-processing again the next morning, of course). Afternoons and evenings are reserved for research and marketing. But everybody’s different and you have to find a system that works for you, personally. The BIG thing is to write every day. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes and even if it’s rubbish, it doesn’t matter. That’s the way to beat writer’s block. By simply writing.
DE: That’s my Battle of Waterloo book, the title of which is The Last Campaign of Marianne Tambour. It’s based on the experience of actual women who fought in the ranks of Napoleon’s armies. Fascinating women. I’ve fictionalised them, of course, but their basic stories are true-to-life. It’s due to be published in December – in time for the 200th anniversary of that hugely famous engagement, as you’ll know. So, as part of the book, I’ve also written a travel guide so that visitors to Belgium can follow the route of the story while reading the novel itself. In addition, I’ve put together some audio tracks so that readers will be able to download the qreat marching songs of Bonaparte’s forces that I came across while writing. Finally, I’m trying something new this time. As an independent author, it’s helpful to use crowd-funding to finance the book’s publication but also to test the market in advance of publication date. I’ve never done this before but lots of other authors have used crowd-funding successfully, so I’m going to give it a whirl too.
BBB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
DE: Well, it’s through my website, I guess – www.davidebsworth.com. But I also send out a monthly e-newsletter, only a simple thing but if anybody wants to be on the circulation list they can e-mail me on email@example.com . The newsletter just keeps family, friends and supporters “in the loop” about anything that might be going on in relation to the books or my author events in the following few weeks but, of course, readers can use the e-mail address to just send me questions direct. It’s always good to hear from folks! And, finally, there are updates about the Battle of waterloo novel on my Pubslush page - http://pubslush.com/books/id/2722.