WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE FICTION AUTHOR?
Currently my favourite author is Rohan Mistry whose towering novels about India are so vivid, so descriptive and so visual that I can totally immerse myself and believe I am there experiencing everything he is writing about. I end up knowing the characters so well and empathizing with them. I feel their pain, their anguish, their sorrow, their joys and their afflictions. There is so much going on in his books, like a vast kaleidoscope of sounds, smells, colours, life and death. I would love to write such epic novels – fiction, so true in every minute detail, that it seems like non-fiction.
WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FROM?
Since I write mostly non-fiction I get my inspiration from life in its many shapes and forms. I observe people. I listen to conversations. I like to blend into the background so people don’t notice me. That way I can be like a video camera, overhearing, watching, recording mental notes in my head and then scribbling them down later. Not, of course, in any sinister way but simply as a fascinated observer. I love the process. I learn so much from watching and listening to others.
IS YOUR FAMILY SUPPORTIVE?
Yes, I have been very fortunate. My son is a producer and is encouraging me to write so, perhaps, one day he can produce something I’ve written. My two daughters often tell me they are proud of me. One of my nephews is very positive about my current book. One sister did complain, “Oh no, you’re not writing THAT story again!” I think her main problem with this particular book is that she is staunchly Conservative and it shows up the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan as a vindictive government bent on the destruction of one innocent man to cover up their own misdeeds.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU DO TO MAKE MONEY FROM OTHER THAN WRITING?
I have actually been “retired” for the past ten years while living in Costa Rica. But while living there I have been very active in the local English Language Theatre. I have been President of the theatre for 3 years and have directed 3 plays and acted in several more. I also worked with indigenous Bribri groups in the Talamanca mountains of Costa Rica, putting their lives and legends into dramatic form. Before that I was a humanitarian aid worker, working with refugees with disabilities in Bosnia and Croatia during the war and then in Azerbaijan. I loved that work.
LOCATION & LIFE EXPERIENCES – WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND WHERE DO YOU NOW LIVE?
I grew up between Surrey in southern England and the Highlands in the far north of Scotland. I would say I had a very idyllic childhood in both places. But I had itchy feet from a very early age and couldn’t wait until I left school at 16 to adventure abroad by myself. I lived in New York for three years and worked as the producer of an all-night Talk radio programme on 1010 WINS New York. Then I travelled alone around the world, taking the Trans-Siberian railway across Russia and Siberia. I lived in the Philippines for 3 years, working as TV and pring journalist, before heading back to the UK. I currently spend my time between Los Angeles, Costa Rica, the UK and Newfoundland. Travelling every 3 months seems to calm my restless spirit.
WHAT SCARES YOU THE MOST?
What scares me the most is the American love of guns and the callous attitude of the NRA towards background checks, weapons in the home and massacres of innocent people, including children. What scares me is their intransigence to any sort of gun control and their only solution to children being gunned down in schools is handing out yet more guns to teachers. This scenario is very scary to me.
DO YOU PLAN TO PUBLISH MORE BOOKS?
No, I have no plans at present to write another book, other than my memoirs, written more for my family and friends than for general readership. I won’t categorically state I will never write another book. Simply that I am concentrating right now on completing a screenplay and that will take me a few more months. So I can’t really predict beyond that what irresistible subject, like Stephen Ward, might arise that I would be eager to dedicate another four years of my life to.
WHAT IS HARDEST – GETTING PUBLISHED, WRITING OR MARKETING?
Until independent publishing took off I would definitely say the hardest task was getting published. It seemed to be a chicken and egg situation. No agent, no publisher. No publisher, no agent. I was extremely fortunate in that I had a successful author who became so excited by my research when I showed it to him that he immediately called his publisher to tell him he must publish the book. The publisher, Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape, needed no persuasion. He became hooked and was 100% supportive and certain it would become a best-seller. I hadn’t actually written a word, I had no agent and yet here I was talking to a top publisher who was more excited than I was! Now, these days, with the growth of independent publishing, it is easy to publish a book. The hard part is marketing it. I think one needs to be very tech savvy and familiar with all the social networks to make a success of it. Unfortunately I am neither.
IF YOU COULD HAVE A DINNER PARTY AND INVITE ANYONE – DEAD OR ALIVE – WHO WOULD YOU INVITE AND WHY?
For the living guests I would invite Rachel Maddow because I love politics and I would dearly love to have been a political journalist. And Maddow is simply the best and brightest of all of them all today.
I would invite Imelda Marcos (former First Lady of the Philippines) because I have written scathingly about her numerous times in the past. I feel I owe her at least a decent dinner for never having had me thrown in gaol or had me assassinated as was the fate of many of her other enemies. And, let’s face it she is very entertaining.
I would invite Eddie Izzard because he has the funniest one-liners in the business and would poke fun at Imelda and keep us in hysterics the whole night and, thus, prevent the conversation from ever becoming too serious.
For guests who have died, I would love to have met the writer, adventurist, diplomat, great English eccentric and my secret heroine, Gertrude Bell who felt equally at home “sitting in a palace with Kings as she did squatting with nomads in a tent in the desert.” I feel equally at ease in all these situations too so would be fascinated to meet her and listen to her and exchange notes.
My next guest would be Oscar Wilde, also known for his one-liners, his acerbic wit and his irreverence. It would be delightful to hear his views on the current marriage equality laws.
And my final guest would have to be, of course, Stephen Ward. I have often wondered how he would react to someone who has taken five years out of her life to prove to the world that he was innocent of all charges and who is still working towards having his conviction overturned.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS HOW WRITERS CAN RELAX?
I would advise not to put yourself under too much pressure. Unless you are writing to a deadline, don’t feel you have to finish the article or the book until you are ready to do so. Too many times in the past I have forced myself to finish an article for no other reason than I want to move on to the next project. Just remember the next project can always wait. Write at a pace that suits you. Be gentle, kind and respectful to yourself.
WHAT COLOUR REPRESENTS YOUR PERSONALITY THE MOST?
Green is my colour. It is the colour of the environment in which I live. It is a restful and reassuring colour. I love trees. I love open meadows. I love savannahs stretching out into the horizon. I love the Spring when suddenly, after the drab months of winter, everything becomes green and hopeful, heralding the long, hot summer. Green is definitely my colour.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL?
My favourite meal has to be a hot bowl of vegetable curry with steamed rice followed by organic 75% dark chocolate. I’m not sure that they would really go together, I’ve never actually tried the combination. But, individually, they are my favourite foods so surely that would mean together they would make my favourite meal?
HAVE YOU MET ANYONE IN THE INDUSTRY WHO HAS REALLY HELPED YOU?
David Yallop, the best-selling author, helped me enormously at the start. I owe him a lot. My co-author, Phillip Knightley, also helped me by showing how all the disparate threads of my research could be woven together in chronological order to create one cohesive narrative. And, currently, my nephew, the movie actor, Cary Elwes, is acting as Executive Producer for my screenplay and, when it is completed, will introduce me to people who can help me find financing for it.
WHAT MOVIE DO YOU LOVE TO WATCH?
There are a few movies that I could watch many times and not get bored. “Whale Rider” is one. “Princess Bride” (starring my nephew, Cary Elwes) is another. “Muriel’s Wedding” is always cringeworthy but wonderfully nostalgic of the 80s. And I can never get enough of Tennessee Williams – “The Glass Menagerie”, “Suddenly Last Summer” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” are some of my all-time favourites. His characters and situations are so over the top but, at the same time, so very believable. And, since I am a great Tolkien fan, I love the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
IF YOU COULD DO ANY JOB IN THE WORLD WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I always thought I wanted to be a politician. But, in the last few years, I have gone off that idea. Truly what I would like to be is Head of the UNHCR. I have loved living and working among refugees during the past two decades. I would be happy to work for the rest of my life trying to alleviate their suffering and improve their living conditions.
"How the English Establishment Framed Stephen Ward" is a major expose of a government cover-up that has lasted half a century. It is a powerful story of sexual compulsion, political malice and ultimate betrayal. A number-one bestseller when it came out in 1987 under its original title, "An Affair of State", the book reveals never-before-heard testimony that has been uncovered by the authors in the years since the scandal broke.
Using startling new evidence, including Ward’s own unpublished memoirs and hundreds of interviews with many who, conscience-stricken, have now spoken out for the first time, this important account rips through a half-century cover-up in order to show exactly why the government, the police forces, the Judiciary and the security forces decided to frame Stephen Ward. Stephen Ward is now the subject of an upcoming Andrew Lloyd-Weber musical and this book offers a wider perspective on its complex, central character as well as a broader insight into one of the greatest scandals of the past 100 years. As the authors’ research reveals, Ward’s “trial of the century” was caused by an unprecedented corruption of justice and political malice which resulted in an innocent man becoming a scapegoat for those who could not bear to lose power.
This is an epic tale of sex, lies, and governmental abuse whose aftermath almost brought down the government and shook the American, British, and Soviet espionage worlds to their core. With its surprising revelations and meticulous research, Ward’s complete story can finally be told.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Politics, Espionage, Scandal
Rating – PG-16
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