Interview with Roy A Higgins

What are you working on next?
Based on reader comments I am in the process of editing my novel Weekend in Amsterdam.This story is based on factual events. In the late 1960’s, I was sent to work in the Netherlands by my employer. On the weekends I journeyed to Amsterdam, and there I met a Soviet agent, who told me he was head of a security team at a Soviet radio station. I envisioned a uniformed security guard, at a radio station playing Russian folk songs, perhaps spreading a little Soviet propaganda, but nothing could have been further from the truth. It transpired that the radio station transmitted, and received, coded signals, while intercepting and breaking the coded signals of foreign governments.
I befriended the Russian, and we toured the bars of Amsterdam on a couple of occasions. When I was about to leave, he asked me if I was prepared to help the Soviet Union in an intelligence gathering capacity. I asked him what I could possibly contribute that he couldn't read in a British newspaper or a library book. He answered that I would be surprised, and hinted that I could be placed into positions of mutual benefit. I declined, but often wondered what may have been the consequences of my refusal had he failed to take no for an answer.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love the legal stories of John Grisham and I have read almost all of them. I believe that he bought a thousand copies and hawked his first novel ' A Time to Kill,' around the local bookstores for eight years before it was finally picked up by a publisher. There may still be hope for me yet? I also love Charles Dickens and own his complete works in tooled hardcover. There are many unfamiliar stories in some of the volumes but the cream of his stories have definitely risen to the top.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life inspires me to get out of bed every day. Life is too short and there is so much worth doing. Writing is only a part of my life, I love day's out, meals in restaurants, holidays, spending the day with my grandchildren, reading in the garden on a sunny day, oh and don't forget football (soccer). I even tolerate shopping if it's punctuated by a cappuccino and a blueberry muffin.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I had two technical books published twenty years ago but didn't know if I could write fiction. When I retired from full time work I decided to give it a try. I wasn't even sure if I could write a chapter let alone a novel so I decided to write a short story based on life my experiences. If you would like to read it you can find it in it's entirety on my blog.
What is your writing process?
I don't really have a writing process, unless you call chaos a writing process. I have memories and an alter ego who is capable of doing the things I can no longer do. I sit at my computer, take a walk down memory lane, and get these memories down onto paper. Once I have something written down it triggers idea's for development, they often arrive while taking my morning constitutional where I can concentrate on my thoughts without distractions. Memory is not a finite thing, other peoples memories, of the same incident, often differ from mine, so I have little problem in distorting what I think to be memories in order to fit a story line. The people on which my characters are based often become merged in order to keep the characters to a manageable number, and actions committed by one real life person may well be attributed to someone who never committed them. All these things taken into account I am left with a complete work of fiction.
How do you approach cover design?
I design my own covers. First I use the browser on Bigstock or Shutterstock to find a picture which relates to the content of my novel. I then purchase the rights to use the picture and overlay it with text on my home computer. Job done.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in industrial Lancashire in England. As both of my novels to date are set in the 1960's they are heavily influenced by the location and the period. Apart from my stories being crime novels, people often comment on the background to the stories as they can relate to the social history and the locations.
When did you first start writing?
I was teaching electronics at a tertiary college and was moved from a classroom situation into a workshop by a supervisor who failed to understand my needs. As it was too noisy to lecture, or to deliver instruction to the group as a whole, I began to write down my notes in a teach yourself type of manual. This manual was seen by a visitor and with my approval he sent it to his publisher, Longman Technical and Scientific. Suddenly I became a writer.
What's the story behind your latest book?
When I was young, I played in a rock and pop band. While travelling in the group’s van we rear-ended a lady driver, pushing her onto a zebra crossing where she collided with a pedestrian. The man was angry with the poor woman, until he realised she wasn't the author of his discomfort. On discovering the culprit for the rapidly growing bruise on his leg, he brought his complaint to us.
When he recognised the driver of our van, his mood changed he and told us the story of how he found a baby hidden inside a cardboard box. There'd been rumours that the child was dead, and that the drug addicted parents had hidden the body in a squat. He decided to find out if the rumours were true, and crashed through the wall of the derelict house using a mechanical digger.
I decided to use this story as the baseline for a series of vigilante killings, with my band, Satan’s Whiskers, as a backdrop to the story.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I tried publishing with a print on demand publishing house but quickly discovered that selling services rather than selling books was their forte. I decided that what they were doing I could do myself with more control over pricing and distribution. Until I find a publisher who actually sells books I will remain an Indie author.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing about the happiest days of my life is a joy. For a few hours each day I am young again and the friends who have become estranged over the years, or left left this mortal coil, become alive to me again. I write a chapter and the following day I read through it with new eyes and think wow, did I really write that?
Published 2014-08-25.
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