Interview with Agatha Styles

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The pleasure of writing far exceeds the pleasure of all else, except sex, and sex can be a bit hit and miss.
Describe your desk
i don't have a desk, except for supporting bits of paper. For writing I have a lap, which is much more portable.
When did you first start writing?
When I could hold a pencil, I started to write.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on Book Two in The International Cafe Series, which picks up three years later on the characters in Book One. It is a delight to write about the new liaisons and intrigues which embroil them, and to chart the dangerous extremes to which they will go in the name of love. Besides, the truth is; I cannot stay away from the little cafe opposite the sea in Praia do Sol, Portugal, and the compelling characters that congregate there.
What is your writing process?
My novel writing process begins with: Think, think, think. Listen, listen, listen.

There is a little room in my head where my characters all reside. If I go into this room and assume dominance, the whole thing immediately grinds to a halt. If I try too hard to direct the characters, they go on strike and refuse to move. It's fascinating.

For instance, take Love Is A Starving Tiger. The male protagonist is Dean Harding, whom I initially conceived to be the bad boy so many women fall for, the heartless bastard who will use a woman and toss her away. But Dean refused to behave like that. As long as I directed him, and fed him lines to say, he sat like a mannequin, dumb and moribund. It wasn't until I stopped trying to invent and control him, and instead listened to and observed him, that he started to really breathe. As soon as I gave him sufficient room and light, Dean came alive. He became his own man, powerful, multidimensional, intelligent and sensuous. He taught me a lot; about writing; I owe a lot to Dean.

I must go into that little room in my head with no agenda. I have to listen to my characters, not force them into any course of action, but rather put them in a situation, and then simply watch them, and record what they do. As a result I often feel that my work is not really that of a writer; I am more of a voyeur and a stenographer..

Whatever you call it, I feel honoured to do the job
What are your five favorite books, and why?
If forced to choose the best book I've ever read, I'd choose The Death of Ivan Ilych. Even now, years after first encountering it, I am astonished by Leo Tolstoy's skill in taking me from reading about a Russian petty bureaucrat (and wondering why I was bothering because he was so unlikeable) to an engrossing tragedy raising the eternal questions facing mankind.

Richard Bradigan's In Watermelon Sugar is also on my list of five favourite books. It's very ambitious, lyrical, poetic, profound - and probably out of print.

I love The Portrait of Dorian Grey, which is a haunting novel about a man's descent into wickedness, and his transformation by evil. Oscar Wilde; wonderful, witty, brilliant, urbane; he always has somethng apropos to say. For instance, a quote by Wilde prefaces Love is a Starving Tiger: "The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray."

Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck. Well of course, anything by Steinbeck is terrific, but Sweet Thursday (and Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row) are among my favourites. Sweet Thursday was the inspiration for The International Cafe Series, which, is also about outsiders and misfits. Like Sweet Thursday too, at the centre there is a love story.

The Long Good-bye by Raymond Chandler, and again, really anything by Chandler. I adore Chandler for his vision of LA, his marvelous character descriptions, and his delight and facility with the English language. His primary aim as a writer is always to entertain, and I keep that foremost in my mind when I write.
What do your fans mean to you?t
I am thrilled to have fans. To write from the heart and for that then to be heartfelt by a reader is a joy like no other.
It forges a bond between writer and reader. I want to hear from my readers. They can contact me directly with their feedback and comments at!
Published 2015-07-16.
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