Interview with Andy Lynes

What is your writing process?
I tend to write in my head quite a bit before I put anything on the page. I don't want to think about writing, I want to relax and watch the TV or read, but it's an involuntary part of the process. What I'm forcing myself to do is find the angle for the piece. Once I know how I'm going to approach it, the writing flows a lot easier and a structure becomes apparent.

Sometimes though I begin writing without an angle or a structure. As a writer of non-fiction, I can often write a paragraph that can slot into the middle of a piece, a bit of background or a description of a person, thing or place and that can get me going on the right track. I might then go back and write the piece from the beginning and end up re-writing or not even using that paragraph, but that doesn't matter, it's served its purpose as a starter motor and I'm away.

I tend to edit as I go, which is not ideal as it slows the process down and I can end up spending a lot of time fact checking when I should be getting words down on the page. Although it's work that has to be done at some point, I know it's a form of procrastination and gives me an excuse not to write. It's that terrible old cliche of the writer who is doing the thing he most wants to do in life but at the same time hates every second of it.

I don't have a particular time of day to write, it all depends on deadlines. I can write from early morning (it's a little after 7.00am as I'm writing this answer) to late at night if there's an editor or publisher breathing down my neck. I do most of my work in my garden office but I can write in hotel rooms and on trains. I often have music playing while I'm researching or writing, but I can't have the radio on as speech is extremely distracting, although the general hubbub of an office or public place isn't an issue unless there's some idiot yelling into their mobile of course.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm a food and drink writer with a particular interest in restaurants. My book Kingdom of Cooks is a series of extended interviews with some of the best up and coming chefs in the UK. It was designed as a series of articles which were published on the website of the highly regarded Food Arts magazine in America. Unfortunately the magazine ceased publication in autumn 2014 with only half a dozen of the 13 pieces published, so I decided to use the material to write a book. I wanted to include chefs that hadn't previously had huge amounts of exposure so that their stories would be fresh, and to go into details about their careers and creative process which there simply isn't room to do in magazine and newspaper articles.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Editing. Getting the first draft completed is always a bit of a struggle but going back and editing is a joy. All the hard work has been done and then you get to craft and hone the piece. I'm not talking about spelling and grammar, that's a given, it's more about style and structure - taking away a few words or adding just the right one to make a sentence perfect or moving or removing a paragraph to make the piece flow. All that work done in the name of clarity, to improve the experience for the reader, to get the message through in the optimum number of words. This answer could no doubt do with some editing.
Who are your favorite authors?
I write a lot of journalism and I tend to like writers who have a journalistic background. The late Jonathan Rendall is one of my favourite authors. He only wrote four books and all of them were quite short, but they were beautifully written and all mixed the flare and creativity of a fiction author with the factual research and acute observation of a journalist. This Bloody Mary is The Last Thing I Own is one of the best books about boxing and one of the best autobiographies I've read. Rendall was an exceptional but by all accounts troubled, talent and that comes across in his writing too, giving it a real human edge.

I also really enjoy Michael Connolly's crime fiction. He spent over a decade as a crime beat reporter for a number of American newspapers and there is more than an element of reportage to his books. I only know about the American legal system from what I've gleaned from TV and films so I've no idea how accurate Connolly's portrayal of US police work actually is but there is such detail and such an authoritative tone that generally speaking he avoids genre cliches and you trust he's done the journalistic legwork. That makes the stories that much more believable and you get sucked into the narrative as it unfolds without thinking 'hold on a minute, would that really have happened? That sounds like something I saw on Hawaii Five-O'.
Describe your desk
Sometimes messy, sometimes in order depending on my workload and state of mind. It's currently in transition.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My overdraft.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Kindle Paperwhite. I stare at a screen all day and although the Paperwhite is yet another screen it's similar enough to a book experience and I can read it in bed when my wife has gone to sleep which is a godsend.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Cooking, eating out, travelling, watching a lot of TV and reading.
Published 2015-04-02.
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Books by This Author

Kingdom of Cooks: Conversations with Britain's New Wave Chefs
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,550. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Gourmet
In-depth interviews with some of the most exciting, acclaimed and innovative UK chefs, including Simon Rogan (L'Enclume, Cartmel, and Fera at Claridge’s, London), Mary Ellen McTague (Aumbry, Manchester), Neil Rankin (The Smokehouse, London) and Gary Usher (Sticky Walnut, Chester) that detail the harsh realities of being a chef and the astonishing hard work it takes to make it to the top.