Taking a break from my celebration of all things romance to chat to an author local to me who has joined me for my regular Friday Night Drinks slot. Please welcome to the blog, Doncaster writer… Andrew Langley.
Andrew, welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
It’s great to be here Julie, and thanks for having me. As the son of a Scottish father, I am having a wee dram of my favourite Scotch whisky. Back in the day, when I was teething as a baby, my parents would dip my dummy in whisky to ease the pain. So, you could say, I developed a taste to the strong stuff from a young age! I don’t think this would be the chosen cure for teething in the modern era, but it worked for me.
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
In real life, we’d be heading to a Chinese restaurant for a slap up meal and wine. Our family treat when I was growing up was a Chinese takeaway every Saturday night. It seemed such a luxury thing at the time, and the distinctive flavours always remind me of my early years in the North East.
I wonder if we favour the same Doncaster Chinese restaurant! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
I’m a huge David Bowie fan, and have followed him since the early seventies – he would be my first pick. Over the years, I’ve seen him in concert many times, and I have fond memories of each performance. He was such a creative guy, who seemed to live life on his own terms, and I’d love to get a chance to chat with him.
I’d also invite Diana Gabaldon, the author of the global phenomena that is the Outlander series. I love her approach to writing about Scotland and Scottish history, and she was a major inspiration behind my latest novel The Hawk Legacy. I wanted to capture how she’d brought the Jacobite era to life, and it would be great to swap ideas about writing historical fiction.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
My career has been a reflection of my health. Around the time I turned thirty, I went blind in my left eye. The vision gradually returned, but years later, I was formally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The ongoing deterioration in my mobility meant I had to quit my current day job as a photojournalist and wildlife cameraman. I simply couldn’t carry the kit, or hold it steady any more. As I’d written for newspapers, magazines and contributed to a couple of non-fiction books as a photojournalist, I thought I’d have a go at writing full length fiction. It’s a sedentary job and I can fit the hours around whatever my health is doing on a particular day.
My first attempts were a series of three thrillers set in Whitby, the North York Moors, and Scotland all featuring the same characters. Then I thought I’d have a go at a historical thriller/adventure exploring my favourite historical period – the Jacobite Revolution in Scotland. Hence, the idea for The Hawk Legacy was born, and I based the story on real events from the period. I’d known since my teens of the mystery of a missing gold hoard buried in the Highlands by the Jacobites after the Battle of Culloden, and I thought it would be a great background for a story. A treasure quest over three centuries – surely it could be a good tale to tell. The finished novel was picked up by Vanguard Press and published in January this year.
I’ve outlined a potential sequel to this, and I’m also working on two other novels at the moment. One is a coming of age tale for the over fifties, and the other is a crime story set in the North East.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?
My proudest moment was holding the finished version of my first novel in hand, and then doing a book signing at the local Waterstones. The staff and everyone who showed up were so nice to me, it was a real privilege to be there.
The biggest challenge I face, along with most authors at the start of their career, is getting your book noticed. Thousands of books are published a month and bookshops only have limited shelf space. Why should they stock yours over a famous name who is on their fifth bestseller? A reader needs to trust that they will be entertained after they’ve handed over their hard earned cash for a book. It is human nature to go for an author you’ve read before, rather than a relatively unknown one. I hope, as my publishing catalogue grows, readers will enjoy my stories and keep coming back for more.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
I think every author wants to see their books gracing the bestseller lists, but only a small handful get there. For me, I’d love to see my stories on television or film. As my background is in media and TV, it would be like my career has come full circle.
What are have planned that you are really excited about?
I love writing. Creating new worlds, and inventing interesting characters that drive the story. What really excites me is the stage in a novel when the characters you’ve made up start talking to you. No, I haven’t gone mad, this genuinely happens to me every time. I’ll be writing a scene, and a character voice will pop up in my head saying, “I wouldn’t do that,” or “You’ve got that wrong.” Even though I plot all the twists and turns in my novel right at the beginning, a developing character can throw in a curve ball at the last moment. It’s wonderful, and has changed the plotted ending of a couple of my stories already.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
My favourite place is the Scottish Highlands. The mystery of the landscape, the history – everything really. Weirdly, I feel at peace and at home there. In the future, I’d like to travel to Iceland and see more of Scandinavia. I’ve been lucky enough to work in the Arctic Circle, and it was fantastic (but very, very, cold).
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself.
I’ve had a couple of jobs photographing members of the royal family. After appropriate vetting before the event, I was then summoned for a detailed brief by the people who look after security on the day. This still didn’t stop two non-uniformed officers sandwiching me and my camera gear and escorting me to the side whilst I was attempting to take photographs. They appeared from nowhere, like ninjas in a smart suit with a suspicious bulge under the jacket where their firearms were hidden. After a brief moment of terror and a short interview, they let me go. But the experience left me in awe of the royal protection professionals who have the capability of blending into the background unseen.
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
This is a controversial choice, but the book that got me hooked on thrillers as a teenager was Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. The morals are outdated by modern standards, but the pace of the writing and the exotic locations really fired my imagination. From the opening line, the reader is drawn into a seedy world of danger and intrigue. More up-to-date, I’d say anything by Lee Child. He is another writer who really captures the imagination, and I love the Jack Reacher series.
Le Chiffre is a businessman with expensive tastes, and SMERSH’s chief operative in France. But as his dissolute lifestyle threatens to ruin him, his only hope is to risk his paymasters’ money at the card table.
James Bond, the finest gambler in the service, has a deadly new mission: to outplay Le Chiffre and shatter his Soviet cell.
Amidst the opulence of Casino Royale, the two men face each other for a game with the highest stakes of all.
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Try not to mix drinks, and down at least a pint of water before heading to bed. If this fails, arm yourself with a greasy fry-up for breakfast, followed by your painkiller of choice. And by painkiller, I don’t mean another alcoholic drink …
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
It’s the time of the evening to kick off the shoes, light a fire and read by the soft illumination of a flickering flame. Then another final dram, before heading for a beautiful sleep. Thanks for having me, it’s been wonderful to spend this time with you.
Thanks for joining me this evening, Andrew, it’s been lovely chatting to you.
Andrew’s latest novel, The Hawk Legacy, is available now in both ebook and paperback formats and you can buy a copy here. The Hawk Legacy is available as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.
Two soldiers. Three centuries apart. One buried treasure.
All families have secrets, but Jax’s clan ancestors may hold the clues to a lost Jacobite fortune.
Join an epic treasure quest spanning three centuries and two very different version of Scotland, in a story of murder, rebellion, love and family loyalty.
After graduating with honours in physics and astrophysics, Andrew Langley was destined to work in industry. But life had other plans. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at a young age, Andrew reinvented his career as his health deteriorated. With a determination to enjoy each change in direction, he’s been a gambling consultant, TV producer, wildlife photographer and professional magician. These varied experiences have taken Andrew from locations as diverse as the casinos of Las Vegas to the remote wilderness of the Arctic Circle. Andrew now creates his new adventures on paper. The Hawk Legacy is his fourth novel. He is a member of The Magic Circle, National Union of Journalists and Equity.
Connect with Andrew:
Facebook: The Hawk Legacy