Monday, July 23, 2012

Hello. Thank you for visiting my blog today. I’m Rebecca Scarberry (Scarberryfields on Twitter). I have interviewed author, Des Birch (AuthorDes on Twitter). He is one of my favorite UK authors. As many already know, he helped me with my writing back in 2011. I lost his guidance when he started taking a class. I was crushed at that time, but he assured me that if I desperately needed his help, he’d be there for me. Well, he was. I have asked some questions, Des has never been asked online before. Enjoy!

Scarberryfields: Can you tell us a little about your nationality/ancestry?
Des: I was born in 1954 by caesarian section in a small country hospital in county Limerick, Eire.  My mother was very ill after my birth and the hospital didn’t have a baby unit, so I was transferred to another hospital and didn’t see my mother for a few months.  I tell people that this accounts for the soft spot I have for nurses, but male friends assure me that this is common among my gender.  I moved to England while still a baby.
Scarberryfields: When you finish writing a book, do you miss the characters?
Des: No never.  The characters live on inside me and when the story eventually fades I can still relive some of the more exciting passages. If you have lived your writing experience, the memories will remain with you just as vividly as those of your physical experiences.
Scarberryfields: How do you go about picking the names of your characters in your books?
Des: If I am writing about characters from a different country, I Google lists of common names for that country.  If not, I use a book that caught my eye at a car-boot sale.  It is called ‘The Big Book of Baby Names’, a curious title which seems to imply that there is also a Big Book of Adult Names.  I tend to go for some of the more unusual names like Vashti and Ashanti (used for two of the otters in Beyond Dark Waters).
Scarberryfields: The synopses for your books are very good. Did you refer to any written materials for guidance?
Des: No, I’m not very good at taking advice (often to my detriment).  I think my life would have been much easier had I mastered this simple task!  I always seem to want to learn things for myself; often the hard way.  Perhaps this gives my writing a slightly different tilt.  I see writing as a pure experience in which there are no taboos.  If graphic sex or graphic violence are an integral part of the story, why omit them?  The sequel I’m writing to my YA book includes the death of a loved one.  Some people might think that it is not a fit subject for children, but many children are forced to go through it so why not explain the steps in the grieving process and say why it is not only all right but absolutely necessary?
Scarberryfields: Does writing benefit you in any way and if so, how?
Des: From a cynical point of view I could say it was the only way I can get people to listen to me.  Seriously though, some of my writing is set purely to entertain and some of it set to teach.  What we give to others also benefits us.
Scarberryfields: When you’re writing, do you shut-off all social networks?
Des: Ha ha!  Julie (my wife) can never understand that while I’m writing or studying I will have my email sites and Facebook open.  Some years ago a study was completed on teenagers doing their homework.  The study concluded that they learnt better with music or TV on than they did by studying in silence.  Having familiar things around me allows me to feel more at ease and therefore able to concentrate better.  I found out today that the building in which I will be taking exam later this year, is situated near a river.  I’m so happy because being close to water is the best possible setting for me.
Scarberryfields: Did you use any family members as Beta readers for your debut novel?
Des: I was living in Spain when I wrote my debut novel.  My partner at the time read it and gave me a lot of constructive criticism.  Then we discussed what was missing from the story and I did something that ‘experts’ say is not only unwise to try, but impossible to do: I added another character and wove her into the story.  Now I can’t imagine the story without her and I happen to know that she is Becky’s favourite character.
Scarberryfields: What do you do when you aren’t writing? Do you have any hobbies or a job?
Des: Yes I work full time in engineering.  I am also studying the final course for my BSc Honours with the Open University.  Some of the things I have learnt about the natural world have been put into my YA novel.
Scarberryfields: What is the last book called that you completed and published?
Des: The last book I wrote was a bully!  I had arranged my year to include finishing the sequel to my YA novel, as well as completing my Uni. course.  I then had a few books patiently waiting in line to be written.  From out of nowhere this novel jumped into my head fully complete and demanding to be written!  I couldn’t ignore it as it was interfering with my studies.  The book was completed in three months.  It is called ‘Lamia’ and its scene is set high up in the Colombian Andes where drug barons rule.  The story tells of one girl’s struggle for survival after being captured by the mountain-men who work for the drug barons.  This is a place where life is cheap and both sex and violence are a part of everyday life.  I also write books for young people and I wouldn’t want them to look-up ‘…also by the same author’… and start reading Lamia.  For this reason I wrote it under the nom-de-plume ‘Juliandes’.
Scarberryfields: Where can people find your books?

Thank you, Des. It has been such a pleasure getting to know you just a Little bit better. Thank you so much for taking time out from your busy schedule to answer my questions.

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