Alastair Puddick is a writer and editor who has spent the past 15 years writing for a variety of magazines and websites. His work has spanned many different paths from jetting off to exciting cities across the world to writing about dating advice, data centres, facilities management and the exciting world of flooring. He also once wrote an agony advice column posing as Elvis Presley’s ghost.
Alastair still works as a copywriter and lives in Sussex with his fiancée Laura. The Unexpected Vacation of George Thring is his first novel.
George Thring runs away from home. By accident.
Depressed, lonely and tired of life, George Thring leaves work one night but never makes it home. Before he knows it, he’s driven over 200 miles in the wrong direction and finds himself in a strange little town, in the middle of nowhere, during their annual Elvis Presley appreciation festival.
As he stumbles from one mishap to another, George meets the woman of his dreams, unwittingly aids in a bank robbery and finds himself pursued by both the police and a gang of angry criminals.
With a big life decision to make, and a girl to try and win over, George is given the chance to become the hero he has always wanted to be.
But is he brave enough to take it?
They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an authors can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
Getting a novel published is a hard thing to do, and I don’t think it’s getting any easier. For my own part, I sent samples of my book to a lot of agents (a LOT). Most of them replied (some didn’t), and though a few were very complimentary about my work, I didn’t find anyone to take me on. But I didn’t let it put me off. I kept going, sending samples to a few publishers, and kept my fingers firmly crossed. Then Raven Crest Books contacted me to say that they liked the book and wanted to publish it. Which was fantastic. From there on, I was able to collaborate on the cover design, the book was properly edited and it went out on sale. I guess the key is perseverance. If your story is good enough, eventually someone will like it enough to take a chance on it.
Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?
I’d definitely have to spend a day with Major Charles Fairview. He’s a conman, a rogue, a charmer and a swindler. I’m pretty sure a day spent in his company would be full of adventure and more than a little excitement. I imagine we’d get in some scrapes, he’d tell me a few tall stories, and the odd law could even be broken. And I’d probably end the day with a lot less money than I started it. But I think it would be fun.
If you were told that you could live any day without repercussions for your actions, what would you do and why?
If there were genuinely no repercussions, then I think I’d rob a bank. Having written about a bank robbery in the book, I think it would be an eye-opener to experience it first hand. Of course I wouldn’t hurt anyone, but it would be interesting to see what it would be like. And most importantly, whether I could get away with it – not that I have any actual plans to do this, of course.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I went to new York a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I’d go there again in a heartbeat. One day, if I make it as a writer and earn enough to do this full time, I’d love to go and live in New York – hanging out in coffee shops with my notepad, writing as I watch the world go by.
If you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
That’s a tricky one, as there are so many books I could recommend. But I’d have to say The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon. I thought it was so well written, an absolute joy to read and it really makes you think.
If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
Never give up. As with most things, you very rarely get what you want first time around. So you just have to keep working for it, and eventually it will pay off.
Please share with us, one random fact about yourself or your book?
Quite a lot of the book was written in a cupboard. I have a cupboard at home which is just big enough to fit a small desk inside. So I converted it into a tiny office, where I do most of my writing.
What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
Yes, I’m working on another book at the moment. It’s a similarly quirky, comical story about a failed crime writer who has to draw on his own limited detective skills to prevent his friend from being murdered. I’m about a third of the way through the first draft, and hope to finish it as soon as possible. A lot of people have also said they’d like to see a sequel to George Thring and find out what happens to the characters next. So I’ll have to start thinking about a follow up story.
What or who in life inspires you?
My mum has been a big inspiration to me. She has always believed in me and pushed me to carry on writing. And she’s achieved a lot herself – not only did she beat breast cancer, she also trekked along the Great Wall of China shortly after to raise money for cancer charities.
What is your all time favourite book?
Again, so many great books to choose from. So I can’t choose just one. I loved Life of Pi by Yann Martel – really nicely written and just a lovely, inventive story. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka is great. And I love the quirkiness and dry humour of Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson.
Thank you to Alastair for talking to The Love of a Good Book!