More About the Author
B.A.Dearsley is an odd mix of the Old and the New Worlds. Born in Canada and raised in England, he's a graduate of the second oldest school in Britain (King's School Rochester, founded in 604 AD) as well as Stirling University in Scotland where his love of history, haggis and Hogmanay deepened. After twenty years as an editor and writer, he's now writing novels full-time from his home in Muskoka*.
(* Muskoka is well known amongst Hollywood's elite - Tom Hanks, Stephen Spielberg and Goldie Hawn have cottages there - and the New York Times has called it "the Malibu of the North"!)
An INTERVIEW With B.A.Dearsley (an excerpt from an interview with the Markham Village Writers)
At what point in your life were you hit with the "writing bolt?"
It took awhile... and in fact happened twice. I dabbled in writing while at university in Scotland, but it wasn't until I moved back to Canada a few years later that I seriously considered writing as a career (bolt #1). I landed a job as the summer reporter for a local newspaper in Muskoka, and a few years later joined CARPNews FiftyPlus, the magazine of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. After eight years as Associate Editor, I moved back to Muskoka to freelance. Bolt #2 hit me after hearing a CBC Radio documentary that said that to be considered "good" at something you needed to have practiced it for at least 10 years. By that time, I'd been writing and editing for 15 years, so I felt I was ready to start that novel...
Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?
In England, aged 11, I wrote my own version of Treasure Island. Truly awful (my teacher agreed). I also remember my first piece published in Canada. I was thrilled at the chance to interview the Barenaked Ladies at a concert celebrating the release of their first album. As I waited across the other side of the arena, I swore I heard them arguing over who had to go talk to the kid writer. The drummer lost...
Where do you find your ideas?
Ideas are everywhere! Friends, family... people I like, people I don't like. I read a lot of history. The world's full of interesting people, places and things just waiting to be re-imagined and included in a story.
How do you choose your characters' names?
It's a bit like naming a baby. The name must feel a natural fit for the character, and at the same time provide a few clues about them. As above, great names come from many different places.
The idea you've been nurturing is ready to go. Describe your writing process.
I usually have a pretty good idea of what's required of a chapter or scene before beginning the serious task of writing. With notes and ideas sprinkled liberally around the document as guideposts, I just let my subconscious take over. No concern about spelling, grammar, punctuation, anything... just getting the ideas down. Polishing comes later.
What inspired you to write your first book, The Beast of Wildeor?
My love of history and cinema. Particularly any movie Stephen Spielberg has been involved in. Growing up with his movies showed me just how important it is that a story have heart. Lots and lots of heart. Books are no different.
How long did it take you to complete, from idea to finished manuscript?
Three and a half years. I couldn't help but feel my characters were getting a little impatient with me...
The Beast of Wildeor is the first of a planned series. Do you already have a rough idea of how many books will be in the series? Or will you figure it out along the way?
I actually started writing a different story - same characters, only older - before The Beast of Wildeor but soon realized it wasn't the right story to kick things off with. It started to tell the story of Alex Mortimer as it was discovered many years later. It was just too complicated and didn't work. So I made a decision to start at the very beginning and do things chronologically. The events of that first book would now fall somewhere around book nine in the series! I figure I'll be writing Alex Mortimer stories for some time to come...
The most challenging aspect of the writing process is:
Getting started each morning and staying focused.
What do you love most about being a writer?
Working from home in my pjs...
Lessons you've learned...
Have no expectations of anyone or anything. That way, every good thing that happens is always a nice surprise and I'm never disappointed. And buy a second pair of pjs...
What would you say is your most valued writing resource?
A very, very fertile imagination. That, and an ability to see the potential for adventure and mystery everywhere.
When you need creative inspiration, you... (Do you have a good motivational tip to share?)
... do something else altogether! A nap is often the best way to get the mind wandering freely again.
What would we find on your bookshelf right now?
Erm... do a few dozen books sprinkled liberally around the home count? Good! Sidney Kirkpatrick's Hitler's Holy Relics, a fantastic true adventure that takes place in the closing days of WWII; The Mammoth Book of Best War Comics, edited by David Kendall (don't laugh!); Muskoka-based writer Cheryl Cooper's Come Looking For Us, a sea-fairing adventure set against the War of 1812 (perfect for this anniversary year); and Sting: Back on the Beat by Christopher Sandford.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Take your cue from Sting's life: hone your skills, regardless of the indifference you may face along the way - persistence pays off in the end. Seek advice and a mentor (or mentors). Network. And get writing... now! Ten years is a long time.
What's up next on your agenda?
It's been four years since I began my adventure with Alex Mortimer, and nobody's more excited to find out what happens to him than me! Book two in the series, The Lords of Allegiance, is well underway... I can't wait to see what happens as I throw events and people his way.