This week we're sitting down to chat with Nigel Lampard, author of more than a dozen psychological thrillers and murder mystery, with The Loser Has to Fall - a war romance - coming soon.
My name is Nigel Lampard and I spent thirty-nine years in uniform with the British Army before working as a civilian for them for eight years. I started writing after a tour in Berlin back in the early 1980s: I fell in love with the city and what it stood for and after leaving Berlin I needed to continue the experience, so I put pen to paper – then I fell in love with writing, a love affair that is still very strong. Jane, my wife, and I have been married forty years, we have two sons and with their partners we have three grandchildren. I have written thirteen novels so far, four of which have been published. You can expect from me a sense of humour, dedication, integrity, loyalty and when needed, support.
Q: As I'm sure you can attest, the journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and what has the journey to publication been like?
As I said, I started writing in the early 1980s and although the possibility of being published was always at the back of my mind – a dream – I didn't think it would ever happen. After I retired at the ripe old age of sixty-one a dedicated supporter told me that I should ‘do something’ with my novels. Without any expectations I joined a website called Struggling Authors, its owner read some of my work and put me in touch with Night Publishing – which became Taylor Street Books (TSB). I never looked back. It had taken thirty years but as I never thought the dream would come true, those thirty years were the equivalent of five minutes. TSB folded on 1st June 2014 but fortunately I discovered Thorstruck Press Ltd, was accepted, and now I feel that together we have a long friendship ahead of us.
Q: In terms of writing, what comes easiest for you, and where do you struggle the most? Is it the title? The first paragraph? The last chapter? The cover blurb?
Initially it didn’t matter because only loyal friends and relatives read my ramblings, but when it became serious I was very fortunate to have a great editor (teacher!) who has given me tremendous support and confidence. I find – as I’m sure many other authors do – that once I have created the characters they take over and quite often change the direction in which I wanted to go. In order of difficulty though, I would say the first paragraph is the hardest because that is where you have to grab the reader’s attention and hopefully, keep it. The final paragraph is dependent on whether there is to be a sequel or not. As long as most of the readers are happy with the outcome, the last paragraph can be very satisfying. I don’t like writing the cover blurb but I don’t find it difficult. I think the author of the cover blurb ought to be independent of the author of the novel, but that is just me.
Q: Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated, especially when developing a series that touches on multiple genres. Were there any twists or turns in your writing that surprised you, or really challenged your original plans for the story?
I touched on this in my previous answer. I was walking through a local quintessentially pretty English village called Ashby St Ledgers in Northamptonshire with my family, when one of my sons suggested I write a novel centred in and around the village. Ashby St Ledgers just happened to be the location of where the Gunpowder Plot was planned. It was 2003 and the 400th anniversary of the plot would fall the following year. I had just finished a novel so I took on the challenge. A modern day gunpowder plot would give me a tremendous story line and in 2003/4 there were a number of politicians I would gladly put a bomb under! I even called the main character Peter Salter, a play on Salt Petre being a constituent part of gunpowder. Suffice to say in Subliminal – the title of the book – the gunpowder plot gets a passing mention, the thrust of the story was taken over by the characters and concentrated on the tricks of the subconscious mind – how different could that be? Although the story was turned on its head – literally – by the characters I had created, I finished the story feeling they had got it right and thank God they had! The politicians lived to see another day!
Q: When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?
Initially I wrote for my own satisfaction but since some of my books were published, and when editing my own work, the reader and reviewer are constantly on my mind. Writing for me is like entertaining: you invite people into your home to enjoy themselves, therefore I invite people to read my books and enjoy what I write – if I did not think of them I would be failing as a host.
Q: In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've encountered to -date?
One reviewer said that one of my novels – In Denial – was the best story she had ever read, another reviewer said that Pooh Bridge – my first novel to be published – was summed up very well in the title – pooh! The accolades – although unbelievable on occasions – boost the ego, the criticisms at first, hurt. I have learnt to cope with the good and the bad but abuse, which I’m sure all authors have experienced, is uncalled for but will always happen. There are some strange people out there.
Q: To turn from pen to page for a moment, is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who just refreshes your literary batteries?
Yes, Robert Goddard – I was an avid reader of his books before I started writing seriously but I felt if I could emulate him then I would be happy. I was overcome with pride when a reviewer said about one of my books – In Denial I think – that Robert Goddard was still alive and well. I also thoroughly enjoyed MR Hall’s Jenny Cooper (Coroner) series. But now I find myself reading a variety of books – judging the opposition – on my Kindle and highlighting the typos, and the grammatical and PoV errors as I read. Perhaps that makes me rather sad!
Q: Assuming you had total creative control over the production, who would you cast as the leading roles, were your work to be optioned for the big screen?
Obviously it would depend on which book was being dramatised for the big screen. I am sure as with other authors, I visualise my characters and then they become real people. Yes, there are known actors who could be cast in the leading roles but also there are people on the street who could equally fit the bill. Authors have to be people watchers and I often see an individual and think, yes, she could be Sarah, he could be Colin etc, etc. So, this is a difficult question to answer and one which if the producer didn’t get right, I would withdraw – if I could – the rights for dramatisation.
Q: Before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there another story yet to be told in your latest world, or perhaps something completely different on the horizon?
The first book to be published by Thorstruck Press Ltd – The Loser Has to Fall - is very different to the ones already published by Taylor Street Books and which will hopefully be republished by Thorstruck. I suppose my genre – I hate that word – is thriller/romance, but The Loser Has to Fall is a tearjerker set in Sarawak during WW2 and in post-war England. My future books – already written – fall back into the original genre although I have written one science fiction novel, but if my sons’ comments are worthy of note, it will need a lot of revising! So something completely different is closer than the horizon, but changing genres can – I am told – lose an author some of his followers. We will see.
About the Author
Nigel and his wife, Jane, have been married for forty years and they have two sons and three grandchildren. They have lived in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex since 2007.
Nigel started writing after a tour in Berlin in the early 1980s – he fell in love with what was then a walled and divided city. After leaving Berlin the only way he could continue the well-developed affair was to write about it. By the time he completed the draft for his first novel he was already in love with writing. Over the ensuing years, and for sheer enjoyment, he wrote a further twelve novels most of which are in the psychological thriller/murder mystery genre but there is always a bit of romance thrown in! However, the first novel – The Loser Has to Fall - to published by Thorstruck Press is not in this genre, it is a war romance set in a war-torn Sarawak on the island of Borneo and then in post-war England: if ‘Tearjerker’ is a genre than this story fits the bill.
Nigel is a previously published author with Taylor Street Books
About the Book
Coming Soon . . .
War comes to sleepy Sarawak
Lovers are separated
The misery ends and they are reunited
But the war has taken its toll
When Colin attempts to escape the invasion, Rachel is interned by the Japanese. She begins nearly four years of untold hell. Injured, Colin is cared for by the Iban – the notorious head-hunters of Borneo – and embarks on a previously unimaginable life, taking Aslah, the headman’s daughter, for his wife.
But his heart is torn in two for although separated, the love Colin and Rachel have for each other never wanes.
The war ends.
Colin, Rachel and Aslah stand to lose everything.
There could be winners.
But The Loser Has to Fall.