What’s it all about?:
Can you ever know what those closest to you are really capable of?
A son returns to the small town where he grew up, where his mother still lives and where a terrible event in his childhood changed the lives of almost every person living there. As the story unfolds through the eyes of the son, the mother and finally, the father, the reader experiences the taut build up to one day’s tragic unravelling, and the shock waves that echoed through a once happy family and close-knit community. Will they ever be able to exorcise the damage of that day or do some wounds run too deep?
Please check out my review in my previous post HERE
Tom Vowler – A Biography
Tom Vowler is a novelist and short story writer living in south west England. His debut collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize in 2010, and his novel What Lies Within received critical acclaim. He is co-editor of the literary journal Short Fiction and an associate lecturer in creative writing at Plymouth University, where he’s completing a PhD looking at the role of the editor in fiction. That Dark Remembered Day is his second novel. More at www.tomvowler.co.uk
Photo of Tom Vowler, used with permission from the author
Q+A Session with Tom Vowler
I’d like to welcome Tom Vowler to my blog today for a Q+A Session on his latest novel, That Dark Remembered Day. So, here we go!
When did you first realise you wanted to become a writer and do you have a special writing place?
I’m a late-comer, writing a happy accident when a lengthy illness felled me, the opportunity presented by the need to not go insane. I’d worked as a journalist, which gave me a feel for language, its rhythms, the importance of precision. And then, like many writers, I imagine, I read something and thought: I could do that and probably do it better. I like a desk at a window with a view, though I’m told a blank wall is preferable.
That Dark Remembered Day is told in three voices, which for you was the most difficult to write and why?
I suppose Richard’s voice was the hardest to capture as I share very little with him: he’s a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, slowly unhinging from the real world. He’s angry, confused, frightened, alienated, obsessed – wait a minute!
Imagination and research can only take you so far; you have to take a risk or two, somehow breathe life into a character, make them come off the page. You draw off what you can, mine your own dark realms to do this. In many ways he is the engine room of the book, driving everybody’s behaviour even in his absence.
There is quite a lot of military detail in the novel, did this come from meticulous research or personal knowledge/experience?
I have no such experience, no, so a lot of research, a lot of interviews. It was important for me to reveal aspects of what the Falklands War was like for Argentine soldiers too, as well as for those returning to the UK. Richard is a reluctant soldier, an outsider who struggles with military life, so I spent some time talking to people who shared this disquiet. As for his attendant madness, two years alone in a room writing will do the trick.
What was your favourite scene to write in this novel?
I don’t know about favourite; some are certainly harder than others. Some flow and skip into life, others have to be pulled like teeth. The big reveal towards the end of the novel was both thrilling and uncomfortable to compose. I wanted the reader to know more or less what was coming but be powerless to stop it.
What’s next for you writing wise?
I’ve a PhD to finish and editing a literary journal keeps me busy, so for now I’m back to short stories, which were kind of a first love. They are extraordinarily difficult to pull off well and many attempts wither and die. But every now and then, when the alchemy gods are with you, something magical and rare emerges.
And now time for some Quick-Fire Questions…
E book or real book?
I’m firmly old school still.
Series or stand-alone?
Hardly ever read series, unless you count Banville’s loose trilogy.
Fiction or non-fiction?
Almost always the former, though I’m more drawn to CNF these days, especially MacFarlane.
Online shopping or bookshop trawling?
Online for everything except books. Bookshops only please.
Bookmarking or dog-earing?
Just can’t bring myself to bend a page these days. I have a lot of bookmarks.
A big thanks to Tom Vowler for his time in answering these questions, he is an author I will definitely be looking out for in the future and his first book What Lies Within has already made it onto my TBR pile! Thanks also to Book Bridgr and the lovely people at Headline, especially Caitlin Raynor, for sending me the book and making the interview possible.
That Dark Remembered Day, published by Headline Books is available now in paperback and e-book from all good retailers.