Interview with Phil Churchill

Is there an underlying theme or message in The Orbury Way.
Yes there is, it is fundamentally about change, specifically within golf. Up until not so long ago, a golf club was the bastion of wealthy men. For some clubs that is still the case with women not allowed and strict dress codes enforced both on and off the course. But that is slowly being eroded with lady memberships thriving and a younger generation who are not interested in being forced to wear a jacket and tie in certain parts of the clubhouse. I'm very interested to see how old clubs handle this change and whether the older generation who run and control these clubs embrace or reject the modern world as it closes in. The Orbury is just such a club and over the series of books we will get to see how they handle it.
Why did you decide to write about golf?
Two reasons. Firstly because I have read many times that as a writer you should write about what you know and I know a lot about golf! Having been Captain at a golf club and running a golf league I know how such organisations run so it made it easier to write convincingly about it (I hope). The second reason is that I love golf and I wish I could read about it more, there are very few golf novels around and I believed that other golf lovers would enjoy a golf novel with comic undertones.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm not sure I find joy in the actual writing. I find it very hard to make enough quality time around other commitments. It took me three years to write The Orbury Way and there were times when I wasn't sure I would ever finish it. However the flip side side of it taking such a long time is that I have had time to get to know the characters, the club and plan and plot precisely how the story would unfold. So no, I don't find the writing part a joy. However there is certainly a lot of pride when you finish. In fact you get a number of moments to really enjoy; finishing the first draft, then the second and third drafts before going on to finish two or three edits until at last you finally close the laptop and know that the final full stop is in place - I must confess that was a joy!
What are you working on next?
That's an easy one to answer and anyone who has read The Orbury Way will also know the answer - it is 'Vixen', the next book in The Orbury Series. Who is the lady walking down the corridor towards the Committee room and will The Orbury Golf Club survive whatever she brings? It is still in very early stages as I am currenty concentrating on promoting The Orbury Way so I'm sorry to say that publication is a long way off for Vixen.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Achievement. Writing is very similar to business and whichever one I'm working on that day I just strive to achieve a little bit more than I had by the day before. Great achievements are rarely completed in a day. They are almost always done by creeping forward one step at a time. If you make each step a good step then eventually you can look back and be amazed at how far you have come. Writing The Orbury Way was done in this way. Small, painful steps that at the time felt as if I was barely moving, and yet as time passed, the body of work behind me got longer. I remember how great it felt to get halfway! Thus, if each day I achieve more than I did the day before then I'm happy as I know I'm moving forward on what I'm working on.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a very eclectic taste, I loved the Shardlake series by CJ Sansom, a great fan of JRR Tolkien and spent many happy hours with numerous Tom Sharpe books. Other favourites include Simon Scarrow, HG Wells, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, the Churchill novels by Michael Dobbs though I'm sure I have left out dozens of other ones I love.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I am an Apple fan so the mini iPad is my reader of choice. However I do flit between the iBooks app and the Kindle app depending on which app had the book I wanted to read for sale.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
When I set out my plan to write The Orbury Way I thought carefully about marketing. I realised early that by making my book based on golf I would be able to focus my marketing by approaching golf clubs, golf magazines and golf stores. That way I knew that the people hearing about my book already loved golf which was tick number one, then I only had to hope they liked reading fiction as well!
Describe your desk
I didn't actually use my desk much to write The Orbury Way. I did the first draft entirely on the iPad in the Pages app.That way I always had the book with me and I could write when I got the time wherever I was. I found progress on the book took great leaps forward during holidays, especially on cruises as I would head down decks to one of the lounges or libraries in the afternoon and spend two or three hours writing. On a ten day holiday I could achieve as much as I did in three months when back at home.
What is your writing process?
Slow! I've already covered some of the process in my answers to some of the other questions. However I haven't mentioned the planning process. It was important to me that I had a concrete foundation to work to. Therefore before I wrote a single word of The Orbury Way I had spent months deciding on what the Hall would like (I decided to base it on Holkham Hall in East Anglia) and drew up a plan of the room layout in a format that I could use in the book when it was finished. I then designed the golf course around the actual topography of the land surrounding Holkham Hall and created the artwork for the map of the estate. I planned each hole, knew its yardage and hazards so that when I came to write about a hole in the story I wouldn't have to make up what the hole was like and instead I could concentrate on what the characters were doing within an environment that 'already existed'. This was especially useful for the cross country Bramley's Challenge. Thus by the time I started I had a very exact knowledge of the club and the course. I knew the main storyline - i.e. where it started, the twists over the letters and where it ended. Everything else, the characters' traits and the sub-plots just happened as I wrote. I also realised very early (the first page actually) that further down the line I wanted to write about the club during the War and so I started to drop little teasers (such as the Earl knowing who the Unknown Airmen were) right from the start so that I could wrap up these stories in a later (or should I say earlier?) book in the series.
Published 2013-08-25.
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Books by This Author

The Hacker (Volume One)
Price: Free! Words: 45,830. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Sports
This ebook compilation offers both the first 5 chapters of The Orbury Way (this sample is over 10,000 words longer than the samples offered online elsewhere) as well as bringing together all fifteen columns of 'The Hacker' that were written for the Surrey Hills League. They are reproduced in their full original format, rather than the reduced formats published online by Golf Monthly.
The Orbury Way
Series: The Orbury Chronicles, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 102,440. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Sports
The future of the historic Orbury Golf Club hangs in the balance. Following the death of the old Earl, the Club Secretary struggles to keep it afloat as the modern world threatens to overwhelm it. Can the heir to the estate win the par 32 one hole challenge? Who is the rightful heir? Who is the father of the baby? Who stole the painting and just what is in that 70 year old letter...?