Interview with Doug Wiggins

Your first novel was “Branscombe”, a detective novel. Could you tell me a little bit about this novel; what prompted you to write it; and where the inspiration for the characters may have come from?
Doug: Yes, “Branscombe” was the first novel I attempted. I had written some short pieces before that, mainly for Theatre Restaurant shows and a few short stories but never anything of length.
I had been visiting my mum and step dad as I had just been informed by my wife that our marriage was over and I was in a fragile state of mind. I had taken to walking along the pathway that runs along Largs Bay in Adelaide's port district. That started me making notes about a storyline I was thinking of developing, then I started going to the local RSL with my step dad and entered into conversations with a few sergeants of police that were my dad’s acquaintances.
So as actors do I tuned in to their conversations and stored away snippets for future use. One of these police officers taught at the police academy at Fort Largs and there I saw the link between the lonely man walking in the wind and rain when suddenly his life is changed; on the one hand the character by the phone call recalling him to active service and on the other the writer by finding the impulse to create the character of John Branscombe.
As a writer I am interested in how a person reacts when his life is suddenly changed and how he or she reacts to this change. Brancscome goes from being a retired detective to being plunged into personal and professional whirlpools where he has to sink or swim and this was the basis of the story.
I found that as the great playwright Harold Pinter said, once you have the characters in place they in effect write the story and this is what I have found with my stories. If the characters are interesting enough and believable then you have a story. Most of the elements in the story although entirely fictitious are taken from real situations I have heard about or personally come across and have as an actor/writer stored away to be used at the right time in the right novel.
What prompted you to take up writing? And how do you think your experience as an actor may have influenced your writing style?
Doug: I don't see a lot of difference between acting and writing novels. I am a character based novelist, and as an actor your job is to get inside another person’s head space to see how they are and what they are. No difference in writing except that you have no audience to tell you if you're on the right track or not. So fortunately I had a life of experience as an actor to give me my parameters.
I have always written whether it be poems or sketches for reviews or just short outlines. However as a working actor who was rarely out of work there wasn't a great deal of time. I was what we call a ‘bread and butter actor’, never a star or leading man so it was important to work as often as possible and to do all the extra jobs outside of the business that I could. Then my wife gave me my ‘redundancy notice’ and there I was emotionally bereft! So acting was out of the question but as I had the time and pension age was dramatically close, after a short period in the employ of a big telco with suit and tie solving problems for the high end of the business, (one of my longest acting gigs!) I decided to write full time. So with the aid of my pension and my savings I moved to Europe for part of the year and here I am, three novels completed and three almost ready with a number of outlines waiting, three months in the UK two or three in Venice and the rest in my Adelaide home.
Do you have any strong views about Life, Religion, Society that you would like to mention? If so do these views find their way into your writing?
Doug: I am basically a nihilist. I have no real belief in an after-life. That does not mean I don't have a set of values or an interest in what other people believe in.

I am not like Richard Dawkins, I don't think it is my job to actively dissuade other people from their religion or their customs unless it affects the well-being of others.

I love history and there always seems to be some bigot who causes death and suffering through their inability to love those who may think differently to themselves. A lot of the time they are politicians who are doing it to advance their own personal situation. Hitler is only following in the footsteps of the Spanish Inquisition and there are many now who follow in Hitler’s footsteps.

I have personally read the holy books of most of the major religions because my father (Jack Wiggins) always said that you can't disbelieve something if you haven't studied the books the religion is founded on. I have taken it a step further and listened to the storytellers of the religions that have no printed books to follow.

I am an unapologetic socialist, (please don't label me a communist without knowing the difference). I cannot accept that there has to be a percentage of the population unemployed or that pensioners should not have a decent lifestyle or that the handicapped and disabled should not have a decent lifestyle. I wish to the highest heaven that I was paying 99 cents in the dollar tax, because it would mean that my lifestyle would shoot into the stratosphere and I would be helping others less fortunate than myself.

I also believe that my female fellow human beings deserve absolute equality, that my gay friends should be afforded everything that I am afforded by the state, (religious organisations should be allowed to discriminate as long as they don't clash with civil laws)and I believe that every child should have access to education including the financial help to achieve this. Some questions I have no answers for yet I believe we should still move towards a solution rather than putting up with suppression and discrimination.
Enough, you see my way of thinking, I write as I think, I try not to cover up our faults as human beings but believe that by writing honestly we can see the error of our ways.

Maybe what I write can make people a little more caring in their private relationships, maybe by laying bare the obscenity of war we can think twice before going out to kill others because we don't understand them, (I'm not talking self defence here).

I believed in capital punishment until I read more about it and as the years went by I saw less and less justification for its use. It was self-education for me and that is why I think education can answer a lot of the problems in the world.
Where to from here for Doug Wiggins?
Doug: As long as my health is fairly good and the God I don't believe in leaves my mental powers intact, I'll keep on travelling and writing until I no longer can. I learn so much about people when you take the time to sit down and share food and drink with them. In the end I find that humans all want the same things: happiness for themselves, good life style for themselves and their kids, success for friends and family and time to share that success.
I think that modern society encourages greed which in turn equates to unhappiness, I would much rather sit around a table with a few friends and some new faces and chat rather than go to the casino or get blind drunk with fellow hedonists. As my friends of many religions say: “may we live in interesting times, may we meet interesting people and may we all enjoy the diversity of life we call humanity”.
Published 2015-06-24.
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Books by This Author

Branscombe
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 28,090. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2015 by Strong & Bold Publishing. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Gay & lesbian fiction » Lesbian
Branscombe’ is a detective novel based in South Australia from new author Doug Wiggins.