Hi Kimm, it’s a great pleasure to visit your blog today. I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about what inspired me to write my latest novel, Revolution Day.
I’d had in my head for some time a vague idea of writing a novel about an old man who has had great power but is starting to lose his grip. Originally I envisaged him as a king, with flowing robes and long white hair, but the idea never really got any further and I thought that, like most ideas, it would never come to anything.
Then, in 2011 and 2012 a string of autocratic leaders fell one after the other during the ‘Arab Spring’, beginning with Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and including such notorious figures as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi, who had once seemed unassailable. It occurred to me that my old man losing his grip on power could be a dictator instead of a king, giving my vague idea a context and making it relevant to the present day.
One idea quickly led to another, and another. I was interested not so much in the specific context of the Arab Spring, but in the timeless issues it raises about the effects of power and its ultimate fragility. Other dictators, such as Pinochet and Ceaucescu, also came to mind. My dictator would not be based upon any particular individual. I would avoid the stereotypes: he would not be a monster or brutal strongman but an ordinary person, initially idealistic and genuinely wanting to do good, but forced by circumstances to compromise on his ideals and gradually desensitised to repression as he clings on to power in the delusion that he alone can be trusted to wield it.
As the ideas started to coalesce, I realised I needed a way to give the long view of my dictator’s rise to power and his descent into autocracy as well as telling a real-time story in the present day. I decided that his estranged wife would be writing a memoir, which could be interleaved with the main narrative. Perhaps she could be a former colleague too, with an insider’s understanding of the regime? That suggested Latin America (with its long history of dictators) rather than the middle east. And I needed an antagonist – someone with a more straightforward desire for power unencumbered by idealism. Another colleague, who resents the dictator’s pre-eminence and is eager to exploit his weakness. Not strong enough simply to seize power by force, he will have to pursue it by more devious means, manipulating the perceptions of the dictator and those around him to undermine his position. Thus my central characters, Carlos, Juanita and Manuel, were born.
One day, during a writing exercise at Holmfirth Writers Group, I wrote what would become the opening scene of Revolution Day, and simply carried on from there. The rest is – well, not history, exactly, but undoubtedly inspired by it, however indirectly.
Revolution Day can be purchased from Amazon by following this link : Revolution Day
Or from Smashwords via this link: Revolution Day smash words