Interview with Keith Carman

What are you working on next?
It was always my intention to write another book or two to make a series and living here in France throws up new confusions all the time so there is plenty of material to explore as a writer.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favourite authors have been the same ones for a long time. Laurie Lee is right at the top, William Golding is there too and so is Pablo Coelho.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I struggle with mornings mightily, so I'm reliant on Monty getting me up for his usual morning wander round the garden checking out the scents from the night.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am renovating an old house, the same one that is mentioned in my book. Otherwise I'm a photographer which is easy in this part of France because the light is glorious.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember it well, I was eleven, it was an exam question for English language in Jamaica in 1971. My teacher, Mrs. Holmes, would be thrilled that what she said that day has stayed with me for over 40 years.
What is your writing process?
I am not terribly well organised so there is no process, I can decide to stop what I'm doing and write at any time of the day.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Treasure House by Enid Blyton is the one that stands out out because I had suddenly discovered reading and I was seven. I had not long been sent off to bed and took the book with me to read under the bed clothes by torch light.
How do you approach cover design?
I am a photographer by nature so I will always try and use a photo rather than design something or ask someone else to draw/design a cover for me.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie. Beautiful writing, made me want to follow in Lee's footsteps.
2. Lord of the Flies. I read this when I was a teenager so it made a big impression on me that we are within a whisker of savagery despite our sophistications.
3. The Alchemist. A simple story, told in such a simple way and it was one of the first to make me want to write for a living.
4. Huckleberry Finn. I grew up in Jamaica during the 60's and 70's where the issue of slavery was and still is a very big deal. Twain's story was read by a classroom full of boys roughly the same age as Finn. As the only white boy in that class I was aware of my proximity to guilt by association with white slave traders.
5. Five Quarters of the Orange. A wonderful story that had an added twist for me because I was travelling in that part of France, along the Loire while reading that book.
What do you read for pleasure?
Asterix and Obelix, I know they're essentially comics but I love the twists and turns of the word play.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My laptop which has a Kindle programme loaded to it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
None have yet been especially effective. Bullying friends to read my books I guess.
Describe your desk
From any angle, it looks exactly like a kitchen table
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
In Jamaica. There were incidents where the issue of loyalty were very important and I think they have never been forgotten.
When did you first start writing?
About 10 years ago when I was 45
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have slowly developed a character I use to amuse people. When we moved to France in 2012 and I got into trouble by having poor French language skills that person was used to tell my partner the story of what had happened that day. With embellishments here and there of course. Then Monty joined us and since he goes with me everywhere, and is very clever and is also an escape artist, the stories just began to flow.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Making people laugh
Published 2014-05-23.
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