Bloodlines author, Peter Bowes, gives a rare interview, revealing the writers he finds most inspiring, and the best and worst things that people have said about his own work.
How long have you been writing?
Since the Sisters of The Sacred Heart taught me cursive writing at boarding school, after the war. Without family, words became friends. You could make them up!
Which other writers do you find most inspiring?
Edmund Hillary, Dougal Haston, Peter Matthiessen, Joseph Conrad, E. L. Doctorow, Donald Westlake, Richard Stark, John Banville, John Le Carre, Peter Temple, Tim Winton, Chester Himes, Michael Chabon.
Are you a procrastinator, or do you find it easy to start writing each day?
Every day, like breathing.
How do you write? And do you set yourself a target number of words to achieve each day?
I write using Word; I like to see how the words might look on a page. Final edits are by pen or pencil. I write on a laptop or desktop, in a hotel or a car, in the sun or in the shade, alone or unendingly interrupted.
How much do you revise and edit your own work?
John Banville writes 400 words a day: I’m OK with that – the more I do, the more I have to undo and redo.
Do you write in silence, or to music?
Many of your characters are based on real people. To what extent do you fictionalise them and the situations they find themselves in?
There’s no need to fictionalise people I know, they give themselves all the time; strangers are the result of a personal chemistry.
Bloodlines is an eclectic collection of short pieces, but you are also currently working on a much longer fictionalised account of the Somerton Man case. What do you find most challenging about writing book-length works?
I’ve only ever tried this one, and the challenge has an almost mechanical side: linkage. The chapter threads must have continuity, even when they’re broken, but one thread, above all, must travel through them all to the end.
The one I’ve marked up most: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
Which book do you wish you had written?
None, I’ve got a bit of all the authors in me, plus I can imitate Cary Grant, John Wayne and Tony Soprano.
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said about your writing?
This is a (!)@*#&$%@# surf site YOU MORON, if I want to read a book I’ll (!)@*#&$%@# BUY ONE !!!!!!!!!!
And the best?
That I’m a dangerous intellectual.