What do you do when you are an ex-soap star down on your luck and running out of money?
For Daniel Maple, a chance meeting in a nightclub presents him with an offer he finds hard to refuse…
But crime makes you pay.
And someone, somewhere, wants you punished.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I write in my office at home. One thing I love to do is go for a long walk and take my Dictaphone, and tell the story as I walk. When I get home I let the computer transcribe it and then I start to edit what I’ve spoken and turn it into something worth reading. I wish I could work at that pace all day long, but I tend to manage a couple of hours in the morning and then my attention starts to wander.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I will start with editing some words that I’ve dictated the previous day, and quite often I’ve got some notes that I made last thing at night on falling asleep. Then I might add some more words either written or dictated, and then check back and probably delete quite a lot of them.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
It depends on the time of the day but mornings I like to have a big mug of fresh ground coffee on the desk. My partner bought me one of those cups that charges itself up and keeps your drink warm for an hour or so and it’s absolutely brilliant is if the story gets involving I can tend to forget about my drink .
– What is your favourite book?
I think I would have to say that “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt was absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t put it down. I love a story that sucks you straight in and that you want to keep turning the pages.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
That’s a really interesting question. My second book has elements of “The Punishment”, but where as “The Punishment” is set in a world of work that I know pretty well, the starting point of familiarity in the book I’m writing at the moment is geography and picking an area. I think I tend to write what I like to read which is mystery, crime, thriller, and although I keep telling myself I should broaden what I read. I read for enjoyment. I think probably stay writing these sorts of books until I get good at it!
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I love bringing in characters who I didn’t know were going to make an appearance and basing them on somebody in my life. It’s how we build up a character as an actor. Take an aspect of someone you know and start adding things to it. There are a lot of people who read The Punishment who may have been surprised to find themselves in there. The names may have been changed, but I think in order to give the characters a ring of truth, they have to be people I know.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I don’t actually carry a notebook with me, but I do pick up my phone and dictate emails to myself. Sometimes I do it lying in bed late at night and it might be simpler just to walk along the corridor to the office and type it straight into my document, but it’s quite nice in the morning to see a couple of emails with mysterious phrases like “does she steal the car?” To stimulate that day’s writing. It’s brilliant that with our phones nowadays you can take a picture of something, make a note, or leave yourself a memo, all to feed into your work.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I don’t think I’m that big on romance. I remember that virtually every book my mother took out of the library when I was a child was a Mills and Boon novel. We would visit the library on the edge of the village once every two weeks and I would look on the three shelves of children’s books for things like the Narnia stories, or “Minnow on the Say” or “ The Otterbury Incident, and then we would walk home and I would carry the books and I noticed that all my mother’s books had pictures of doctors in white coats and nurses on the front, so I don’t think I’ll be writing a medical romance very soon.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Ooh that’s interesting. I know that the Nicci French books are co-written in a way that I’d love to try; One chapter each and then let the other person carry it on. I think I’d like to write it with somebody who remained anonymous to me until it was finished. As a theatre director I spend a lot of time helping actors in the rehearsal room to believe that the things I’m asking them to do is their own idea. I think I’d want too much control, so perhaps just getting a chapter dropping into my inbox and being asked to continue the story, would be the best way forward.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I have a wonderful friend who’s written some gorgeous books and she always manages to need to research them abroad so she’s visited Morocco and a remote Scottish island and San Francisco. My ideas tend to start from the plot, or the incident, and as these are within my brain, they tend to be set in places that I already know. Although for several years we used to visit a very beautiful boutique hotel in Turkey which had 10 villas each with their own swimming pool. There was a bar where everyone met at night and had dinner and I always thought it would be the most wonderful setting for a murder mystery. It’s closed now, but if I could find something similar it might be worth having a two-week holiday in the name of research.
Thank you, Paul Clayton and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Clayton is an actor best known for his appearances as Ian Chapman in five series of the awardwinning Channel 4 comedy Peep Show and as Graham in two series of the BAFTA winning comedy Him and Her. Other credits include Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Holby City as well as This is Alan Partridge, Doctor Who, The Crown, Vera, Wolf. He is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
His previous books are So You Want To Be A Corporate Actor? and The Working Actor and he is a regular columnist in The Stage.
He is a proud patron of Grimm and Co, the children’s literacy charity, based in his home town of Rotherham.
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