Bob enjoys a cup of good black coffee, so over coffee in my kitchen, I pried some answers out of him about his background, writing career, and his plans for his next book. Oh what the heck, I brought out some cinnamon rolls, too.
On a sheep farm in North Carolina. My father was a civil engineer, but ran the family farm. No one around had sheep, but he very much liked the idea of living the life of a country squire, so by the great horn spoon, he got some sheep and learned how to raise them. He was moderately successful at it, but it was a lot of work. Watching him do that when other folks around were not doing anything with sheep was very instructive. It’s possibly where I got my stubborn streak and my determination to make my work completely my own, rather than copying other styles.
Why did you start writing?
The first writing I did was at about 8 years old on my dad’s old 1947 Woodstock typewriter, pounding out little James Bond short stories because I had these ideas I thought were better than those in the movies. Little did I know, of course, how much there was to learn.
How long have you been writing?
That would be … uhh … over 50 years. Gosh, I now officially feel old.
What sparked the idea for your book (The Fur, Fish, Flea and Beagle Club)?
It was originally a short story about the two boys working in the saw mill that I expanded into the book. I was working on a piece that was much too long for my head to hold without exploding so I decided to drop that one for a while in favor of a nice little short book. I limited myself to the time period of the summer of 1936 in order to keep it short and sweet. The joke was on me, as the book ended up being 180,000 words, though I’m told it is a fast read.
Which character, if any, has a personality that most closely resembles yours?
That is a very difficult question, because all the characters have elements of me. Jamie is a romantic who is good with his hands, Ned more of a mystic who feels the most alive surrounded by nature, the fly-fishing and philosophy of Sabastian, the woodworking of Tom Parsons and so on. All of them are me.
Which character was the hardest to write and why?
I think perhaps the women, because I’m not a woman. To write them I just held in my head that women are just as strong, just as silly and just as intelligent as men with the same feet of clay, and let their characters write themselves.
What’s your next project?
It’s a light-hearted romantic mystery set in 1936 on the coast of North Carolina. The working title is at present ‘Suzy and Dodge’ and it has a set of quaint and quirky characters that entertain me every time I enter their world. Hopefully they will be as entertaining to my readers.
Is there one place where you find writing the easiest?
In the early morning just as the world turns from black to charcoal, at the beach whilst it’s quiet.
Do you prefer e-books, hardcovers or paperbacks to read?
I prefer the actual book in my hands, whether hardcover or paperback. I do read e-books whilst I’m traveling or waiting in line for take-out at the local Asian restaurant.
Whom do you admire and why?
This is a tough one. As writers, I admire Mark Twain for his expression of the optimism of the young and his feeling and grasp of mirth. I admire J. D. Salinger for the cleanliness of his prose. The third writer I admire was a remarkable woman by the name of Beryl Markham who was a famous aviatrix. She was the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean the hard way, against the head winds. She wrote not only of her experiences flying in the classic West with the Night, but her experiences as a horse trainer in Africa (she was a contemporary of and knew Isak Dinesen of Out of Africa fame) bore fruit as well, in a collection of some of the best short stories I’ve ever read, called The Splendid Outcast.
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
Right now on my blog, Byrdwords.wordpress.com, and on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m working hard on the new book and hope there will be much more for my readers to follow later in the year. Thanks so much for reading; I do deeply appreciate it.
Thanks to Bob for the interview and the excuse to eat a cinnamon roll. You can find his first book, The Fur, Fish, Flea and Beagle Club on Amazon at:
Check out Bob’s blog: https://byrdwords.wordpress.com/ For the A-Z challenge, he posted about all things nautical, so if you like the sailing and/or the ocean, stop by. He covered everything from grog to pirates.