The Life Assistance Agency finds itself at a loss after returning from Europe. Ben is determined to stay away from anything involving Angels, when the phone rings to invite him to write the biography of a self-deluded singer from defunct rave group Elev-8. At his mansion in Sussex the team meet the singer’s right-hand man, Billy `blind’ Fury, a retired wrestler, and his beautiful secretary Amber. Both of whom have plans for the Life Assistance Agency far beyond writing down half-recalled anecdotes from the early 90s pop charts…
I hope you enjoy this interview.
1.When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in a coffee shop. I don’t understand why this was such a badge of honour for JK Rowling. Writing at home is difficult, and there’s too much opportunity for pacing. You can’t do that in a coffee shop. .
2. Do you have a certain ritual?
I do tend to look at the internet for 3 hours before I start writing. I’m unsure if that’s a ritual or just work avoidance. To be honest the nearest I get to a ritual is when I’ve had a scene brewing in my mind all day and I sit down (this is essential, I’m not Thomas Wolfe – who wrote standing up), put a record on, and pour a glass of burgundy. Oh, and write it!
3. Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Tea. It’s a good companion so long as I’m charge of pouring in the milk.
4. What is your favourite book?
It is three men in a boat by Jerome K Jerome, although I recently read the Ascent of Rum Doodle by William Ernest Bowman, which is genuinely hilarious.
5. Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’d like to write a literary novel, but one that’s entertaining, and doesn’t involve long-forgotten family secrets. I’m unsure that I write in a genre anyway really. I just want to write really entertaining books, of the sort I would like to read.
6. Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I don’t actualy. But then every writer probably says that whilst doing exactly that. I‘m sure people creep in, I mean not literally, but we all have different parts of ourselves so I probably just mine that.
7. Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
I used to, but now it’s my phone, which makes me look like I’m always on it. I’m sure that all the people obsessing with their phones are really just making notes for great novels as opposed to playing Zombie Fruit Dash Crush, or whatever that inane game is called
8. Which genre do you not like at all?
I’ve never read a romance. But oddly enough the new novel Unfinished Business is a love story of sorts. I didn’t plan it to be, but it just happened. Love is like that!
9. If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Oh wow. I like that idea. Douglas Adams, although he didn’t really like writing, and was rather slow, so between us it’s unlikely we’d get much done! Or Jerome K Jerome, but then he did write idle thoughts of an idle fellow, so he’s another one I’d not get much done with. The problem is that it’s a solitary pursuit, but the company might be welcome. Although I’d probably get jealous that they have written a better line than me.
10. If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
It would USA. It’s just so vast and an amazing canvas. Everyone thinks its modern, but in fact most of it seems stuck in the past. There’s a theme park in Unfinished Business called DogPatch which was a Hill-Billy themed amusement park based on Al Capp’s hillbilly-themed Li’l Abner comic strip. . It’s now abandoned but there are amazing photos on the internet. Perhaps I should not admit to not having been there, but I wish I had, and will one day. It’s in Arkansas. Who doesn’t like abandoned theme parks, apart from Scooby Doo?
Thank you, Tom Hocknell and Love Books Group Tours.
About the author
Tom Hocknell is from Kent and lives in London. He has been a social worker, car salesman and gardener. He attended the Faber Academy and The Life Assistance Agency is his first novel. His regular Idle Blogs of an Idle Fellow aims to embrace random topics of modern living, but mostly complains about other people’s inability to make decent tea. He also writes for Classic Pop magazine, the Good Men Project and The Line of Best Fit.