The Interview: Bookbag Talks To P De V Hencher

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To P De V Hencher


Summary: Jill thought that The Leopard of Dramoor by P De V Hencher had an intricate and interesting plot with a vivid sense of time and place. She had a few questions for the author when he popped in to see us.
Date: 27 August 2014
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill thought that The Leopard of Dramoor by P De V Hencher had an intricate and interesting plot with a vivid sense of time and place. She had a few questions for the author when he popped in to see us.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

P De V Hencher: I like to think that a wide range of people would enjoy the book. It's not gender specific nor is it age specific, but it will doubtless appeal most to lovers of historical fiction.

PDeVH: I've always been fascinated by early English history, particularly how people might have coped with living in harsh mediaeval times when social justice was very different. I also enjoy the 'what if' scenarios, and I wanted to explore how a set of different and conflicting loyalties might interact. Thus the loyalties of a boss towards a trusted subordinate (Earl Stephen and Gilchrist), mother and son (Catherine and David), devotee and his calling (Brother Joseph and the Church) and the self-sufficient and the status quo (the greedy abbot) could not be reconciled, eventually becoming destructive. I also gained inspiration from the rugged and beautiful Northumberland countryside and its wildlife, after having lived there for several years. Northumberland also happens to be where my family originated, probably even before the time of the Leopard of Dramoor.

Sorry, that wasn't very succinct was it?

  • BB: It was what we wanted to know, Paul!

Is Earl Stephen's story finished or might we meet him again? (We'd love to meet him again!)

PDeVH: Well… yes and no. There is a book to follow this one, but Earl Stephen doesn't feature.

Sadly time has moved on and the old Leopard has died. The Earldom has been procured by the Bishop of Durham, but Richard Jeavons, now Sir Richard, is about to set off on a crusade under the new king, Richard the First. So yes, there will be a sequel but not quite as you might expect.

I was so pleased you enjoyed The Leopard of Dramoor; hopefully your comments will give me a push to finish the next book.

  • BB: How much of a challenge was it to write your first novel?

PDeVH: I love writing and had already written a couple of plays (theatre being another passion!). I became so immersed in my characters and their machinations that I thoroughly enjoyed writing the book. The scary part was asking you to review it, so now that I know you liked it, I'm feeling quite light-headed.

  • BB: We saw that you now live in Italy. Would you ever write a novel set in that country?

PDeVH: Funny you should ask me that. I mentioned just now that there is a new novel on the way (although only two chapters in at the moment) in which the time-line is split between 12th Century and the present day. Some of the present-day action does indeed take place in Italy, strangely enough very close to where I live!!

  • BB: How and where do you write?

PDeVH: I do all my writing in long-hand, with a fair number of crossings-out and asterisks denoting insertions, before my wife, Maggie, types it up on the computer – providing she can make head or tail of my scrawl. I need to write in complete isolation without any distractions. I think this year I need to sort myself out with a permanent space where I can retreat to do my writing, where not even the dog or cat can find me.

  • BB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

PDeVH: Crikey, that's a tough question. I suppose I would say be true to yourself, and write in the genre and style you feel most comfortable with. I would also say maintain the credibility, even if it happens to be fantasy or science fiction. It's like the adage about watching a play (theatre again!) – suspend disbelief. Anyone reading a book wants to engage in the world that the author has created, so try to be sure that everything your characters do or say is credible within the context of the story. Check your spelling and grammar carefully; you may have a wonderful imagination and ability to communicate it, but if you're not entirely confident in your spelling or punctuation, ask someone you trust to proof-read it for you. (You might have to buy them a drink afterwards or give them a free copy of your book.)

If you can't find a publisher for your work, self-publishing on a site such as Createspace is reasonably straight-forward these days.

  • BB: What would be your desert island book choice?

PDeVH: Another tough question. Thinking about the stand-out books I have read in the last couple of years, I would have to mention the absolutely brilliant An Officer and a Spy' by Robert Harris, along with Labyrinth by Kate Mosse and Deceit by Clare Francis. Most books, however good they are, I generally only read once, but there is a notable exception; I have read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien two or three times, and sitting on my desert island I'm sure I could read it a few more times, so that's the one I'll go with.

  • BB: What's next for P De V Hencher?

PDeVH: In between cutting firewood for the winter from our eight acres of rough woodland and making sure that the Abruzzo wine is up to scratch (something I need to do on a fairly regular basis) I must finish my next book – 'Knight's Destiny'. If you enjoyed 'The Leopard of Dramoor', I'm sure you're going to enjoy this one. I'll let you know when it's ready.

  • BB: We'e looking forward to that, Paul and thank you for chatting to us.

You can read more about P De V Hencher here.

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