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What is your link with Estonia?

It’s a question I have been asked recently, as ‘Forest Brothers’   sits on the eve of publication. Why have you chosen Estonia for your novel? what is the interest? Have you ever been there?

I first visited Estonia twelve years ago. It was February, minus twenty and the snow was heavy on the ground. The wind was so bitter as to make it painful to look out to the Baltic Sea. The capital felt deserted as I toured the old town with my future wife, moving from warm cafe to warm cafe to restore feeling to my extremities. I felt like the only tourist to appreciate the beauty of the medieval part if the city. I felt privileged.

Since that time, I have visited Estonia on a regular basis, albeit at times when the country is at least forty degrees warmer. I have been enchanted by the medieval fortresses, and long stretches of woodland. I have strolled the rugged northern shores and long sandy beaches of the south. I have enjoyed the tranquil islands and watched meteor showers in the forest glades. I have eaten blood sausage with black bread and washed it down with cold Estonian beer or Poltsamaa wine. I have delighted at the spectacle that is Leigo. Indeed, the bulk of the novel was written in the forest near Märjamaa. (admittedly with one leg in plaster up on a chair)

I cannot profess to be an expert on Estonia and all things Estonian. It is partly why the main character in the novel is British. The other reason is that it helps relive an event long forgotten in the UK and the links that were there long ago. I find most Estonians to be reserved initially, but those I have been privileged to befriend are warm and independent in thought. I see many parallels of this small nation with the psyche of my Welsh homeland. It makes me feel at home, it makes me feel part of the land.

 

 

Forest Brothers Q & A, a bit more about the background and the quirkiness of the author

I have included this link about the Next Big Thing in my latest Q&A session. I would take part, but couldn’t find any authors to take up the mantle following me! Anyway, here are the questions.

 

The Next Big Thing, for those who don’t yet know, is a way to network with fellow writers and to find out a bit more about what they’re working on. The idea is fairly simple. The writer answers a set of questions on his or her blog one week, and then invites five other authors to answer the same questions the following week. They in turn invite five more.

 

I was invited by Catherine Edmunds

 

 

 

What is the title of your new book?

 

 

Forest brothers

 

 

 

How did you choose the title?

 

It was a suggestion by Kay, my publisher. The story is set in the Forest Brother community and the two main male protagonists are brothers in arms in the forest. It seemed to work on both levels.

 

 

Where did the idea for the book come from?

 

A plaque on the medieval wall in Tallinn thanking the Royal Navy for their assistance in the Estonian War of Independence. The history is so little known in the UK. I wanted the character to be involved in this episode and then to be there in the Second World War. The two ideas eventually melded together into one piece.

 

 

What genre does your book fall under?

 

Historical Fiction

 

 

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

 

Oh lovely, I get to choose…

 

Huw would be a Welshman, so Ioan Grufydd would be quite cool although I see Huw as being a bit less of a stick. (Ddrwg gen I, Io)

Mἂrt I would choose Mἂrt Avandi, although he would have to be aged a bit. Marko Matvere would be interesting, but not as thin a frame and would struggle to look young enough in the flashbacks.

Maarja would definitely have to be an Estonian actress and I think Mirtel Pohla would bring out the feisty character well, although if forced into a ‘Hollywood’ compromise I would settled for Charlize Theron or Amanda Tapping, cos they are brilliant.

Juhan – I really don’t know, I wish I did. He has to have a smile that could easily draw people into thinking he is a simple lad, but enough gravitas to show great compassion.

Oleg – Anyone that can do an Ed Harris would do me.

 

The other characters I have not thought about yet, must go down the pub and chew the fat over on that one.

 

 

 Who has published your book?

 

Circaidy Gregory Press, a small independent publishing house based in Hastings, England.

 

What other books would you compare ‘Forest Brothers’ to, within the genre?

 

I suppose people would immediately try and parallel with Defiance – the dramatization of the Bielski Brothers and the film with Daniel Craig. I had nothing like that in mind when I wrote it. I actually cannot think of a parallel, I had no set formula nor did I wish to copy anyone’s work.

 

 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

 

An Estonian wife! A desire to have some creation that linked Estonia with the UK

 

 

What else about the book might pique a reader’s interest?

 

The geographical setting, the historical setting – dealing with a history that we in the UK have let fade from memory. I think Huw’s journey is of interest. Does he redeem himself, will he fall to his adversaries, is there a final closure?

 

 

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

 

A man’s journey to face his past and remake his future in a turbulent present.

 

 

I was also given some other questions via a blog, which were a bit quirky and appealed to my sense of humour and I  include them for the amusement factor.

 

What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told? The novel is complete
When are you going to write your autobiography? Never!
Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist? Looking for solo time, being occasionally unsociable, occasionally preferring dreaming to reality.
How many people have you done away with over the course of your career? Directly – only about 100 (not just one story!!!)
Ever dispatched someone and then regretted it? No, they deserved it guv’nor…
Have you ever been in trouble with the police? Speeding fine, nothing else on record ha ha
So when were you last involved in a real-life punch-up? About 1976
What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s far too late…
What is your favorite bedtime drink? None, they only keep me awake
Do you ever wish that you had an entirely uncreative job, like data entry or working in a factory? No, I’d be bored senseless
Do you ever write naked? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…
Who would play you in a film of your life? Martin Freeman
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer? The ability to escape and the ability to come back
What was the greatest thing you learned at school? Team work
Do you laugh at your own jokes? No, they aren’t THAT good
What are books for? Entertainment and reference, depends on fact or fiction as to which is relevant
Are you fun to go on vacation with? Naturellement! As long as it’s a voyage of discovery. Can’t be done slumming it on a beach every day
Why do you think what you do matters? If it keeps people entertained, there’s no need to answer that
Have you ever found true love? Of course! In fiction terms, many times…
How many times a day do you think about death? Hardly, shit happens
What are you ashamed of? Hurting people if it was avoidable and unnecessary.
What’s the loveliest thing you have ever seen? Aurora Borealis

 

Forest Brothers progress

Hello and sorry for the long delay. December was a blur, I had a chest infection before Christmas and a heavy cold for the rest of the year. Good times!

The book has progressed through another edit. The delay is that after each edit, we do another read through – or at least if there are significant changes.

Kay in Circaidy Gregory had a few queries about one or two paragraphs. We then had some queries about certain topics together with Alex, who is preparing the text for e-book. they ranged from the name of the superstructure of a speedboat to the correct reference for a nonconformist preacher/parson/priest/minister. Then I had to tweak a passage about a Soviet navy boat to make myself happy (there was also dialogue over whether it is ‘Soviet navy’, ‘Soviet Navy’ or ‘soviet navy’)

Now we are past that, I’m on one last read through and then we should be there for publishing. I have organised a book launch in Aberystwyth on 14th March. I am also talking about a possible event in Leicester in early March and one in London in April/May. This year may be busy!

I was hoping  to run another question/answer session next, so if you have any questions, do send them in.