Monday, November 2, 2009

INTERVIEW: Author Andrew Grant & the David Travellyan Novels

Welcome to “Up Close and Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing his views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.

Today’s interview is with ANDREW GRANT. He was born in Birmingham, England. He’s debut thriller novel EVEN, is now available in every bookstores and on line. His style is sure to send adrenaline surging through to every hair on your body.

E.I. Would you share some early insight into who you were as a teenager? What were you like? Please tell us more about Andrew Grant -- the man behind the author.

A.G: When I was a teenager? That was a depressingly long time ago...

The thing I remember most from those years is a tangible feeling of my horizons expanding. My parents were very ‘hands-off,’ so I had plenty of freedom to discover music, literature, art, and so on for myself. I also enjoyed a lot of outdoor activities - caving, canoeing, camping etc - which I’ve not had time to pursue recently.

E.I. Do you enjoy writing? What is it about this art form that enchants you the most? Why have you chosen to write in the genre in which you write?

A.G. Sometimes writing is the most enjoyable occupation in the world; sometimes the most frustrating. I have never experienced any other kind of work with such a contrast, both in terms of the extremes of joy and despair, and the speed that one can change into the other. I choose to write crime fiction because that’s the genre I like best. If you enjoy reading, writing is the ultimate indulgence - you get to decide who the heroes and villains are, where the action takes place, what kinds of crime are involved...

E.I. Could you describe your path that leads you to publication--any stumble along the way? Is there anything about you that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?

A.G. My first love was actually theatre, rather than writing novels. When I left university I set up a small independent theatre company with five of my friends, and we were completely immersed in writing and producing original shows for the best part of two years. We had an incredibly enjoyable time - performing locally, touring the UK, and appearing at the Edinburgh Festival - but eventually our funds failed to match our enthusiasm and I was forced to find a ‘real’ job. This was supposed to be a temporary stop-gap while I repaired the hole in my bank balance, but in the end it ate up fifteen years of my life. During this time my focus gradually drifted from drama to fiction - and ultimately crime fiction - so that when I was finally able to escape the corporate world, it was clear to me what I wanted to do.

E.I. Was there a central theme that you wanted readers to grasp?

A.G. I’m not sure about themes, specifically, but my overall aim to make my books as enjoyable as possible by including everything I like about thrillers, and leaving out everything I don’t like.

E.I. Are there any suspense thriller books rocked your world while growing up? And why?

A.G. My favourite thriller when I was growing up was ICE STATION ZEBRA by Alistair MacLean. I loved the pace, the suspense, and the way the narrator repeatedly misled the other characters - not to mention the reader - as he tenaciously unravelled the complexities of the plot.

E.I. How do you imagine audience as you are writing? Do you try to do character development, chapter outlines, various novel-related brainstorming? Do you have sheets of newsprint covered in a story boards all over your walls?

A.G. I picture my hero, David Trevellyan, sitting in a bar with a group of friends, telling them a story about things that have happened to him. I use the first person, because I want the audience to see the events of the novel through his eyes and understand the decisions he makes. I develop his character as far as I can to make his reactions and responses seem credible, but I tend to stay away from outlining in too great detail as I don’t believe I could do it without taking some of the immediacy away from the narrative.

E.I. Let’s shift gears here for a second... let’s talk about David Trevellyan the protagonist in your novel EVEN . How much of him planned out in your head? How do you know where you will go next with her character?

A.G. I have a very clear sense of who David is inside my head - what motivates him, what’s important to him etc - and I try to illustrate as many sides of him as possible through the situations I place him in.

E.I. What was your biggest challenge and obstacle while writing and creating David Trevellyan? Did you work them out in advance, or did they evolve as you wrote the story? Are any of the characters in the story actually based on real people in your life?

A.G. Because I write in the first person, the biggest challenge is showing David through the eyes of other characters. Especially when you want to portray him in a positive light, but without him sounding boastful. This sort of problem generally crops up at regular intervals throughout each book, but fortunately ways around it - such as introducing parts of David’s service record in EVEN - usually present themselves as I go along.

E.I. It seems that your books been attracting more readers and publicity. When are we going to see them on the screen? And if you were allowed total control of the Hollywood version of EVEN who would be in it? And in your opinion who do you think should direct?

A.G. I’m delighted that EVEN has attracted a great deal of interest from Hollywood, and I’m hoping to have some more concrete news about this in the very near future...

E.I. What is a typical work day schedule when you are in full writing mode? Would you tell us a little about your process for editing, revising, and novel development? How long did it take you to write EVEN including the time it took to research it?

A.G. I find there’s a limit to the amount of time I can work and remain productive, so the ideal for me would be to write for two hours in the morning, two hours after lunch, and another two hours later in the afternoon. As my deadline approaches, however, I usually find myself stretching these periods out a little. And as I travel a lot these days, I often find myself making use of the time I spend on planes, where there are no phones or internet connections to distract me.

The basic ideas for EVEN were taking shape in my head for a couple of years before I quit my job, but once I was ‘free’ it took me almost exactly eight months to write the book.

E.I. As a first time suspense thriller writer, do you feel more pressure, feel insecurities fade away or are you able to separate all that from your own creative process?

A.G. Quitting my job to become a writer was a daunting prospect, but I just kept telling myself there are two kinds of things you can regret in life - the things you do, and the things you don’t. And I didn’t want to get to end of my days and regret not having at least tried to do the thing that most excited me.

E.I. What's up next? Is there another book in the works? What can you share with your fans?

A.G. My second book is due for release next summer. Obliged to leave New York City in the aftermath of his previous mission, David Trevellyan is summoned to the British Consulate in Chicago. To the same office where just a week before his new handler was attacked and shot by a Royal Navy Intelligence operative gone bad. Assigned the job of finding the rogue agent and putting an end to his treacherous scheme, Trevellyan soon finds that once again, his only hopes of saving countless innocent lives lie not within the system, but in his instinctive belief – you’re obliged to do what’s right, whatever the personal cost may be.

E.I. Mr. Grant, thank you for contributing to my blog. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know you, and your work a little better. I'm really glad that I had the honor to get your interview. I wish you all the best in the literary world. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?

A.G. The pleasure was all mine. Thank you for including me in your blog. And my only advice for aspiring writers is - ignore all advice. Just sit down, write the book, and start querying agents.

To learn more about Andrew Grant, please visit his website:

Photo of Mr. Andrew Grant By Carrie Schechter

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