Thursday’s Author of the Week interview with writer/artist Philip Catshill continued. You can view Part I HERE.
“I never exactly made a book. It’s rather like taking dictation. I was given things to say. ” ― C.S. Lewis
What “genre” would you describe your writing as?
The Mike Newman mysteries are crime and suspense. If you choose to ignore Mike’s explana- tions, then you have a hint of the paranormal. There is a bit of romance in there as well, but essentially they deal with the gritty world of corruption and crime and its effects on the victims. The books are not Who done it’s as such, as the reader can generally work it out for themselves, but knowing it and proving it are different matters especially when the bad guys are in the police! Readers and reviewers tell me that once started, they are difficult to put down.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I also write poetry which I publish on http://www.fanstory.com
I have written this one especially to answer this question:
This is where I vent frustration
With the use of punctuation
Different marks I know them all
It’s how they’re used I can’t recall.
The period or stop’s okay
But what about the colon say?
Parentheses, brackets, braces,
Appear correct in their places.
Dash and hyphen both look the same
‘Cept one is short and joins a name
Quotation marks for speech not thought
It was that way when I was taught
But I’ll reveal the one that’s worst
The comma splice, I’m sure it’s cursed.
Shall I tell you which the best is?
That proper use for ellipses!
Who designed the covers?
The covers are designed in house. My wife, a gifted artist in her own right, influences the design of the cover from start to finish. Then I produce it.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
One worrying feature is that my writing is an obsession. The characters churn around in my mind even in my dreams. It is great in a way but I must stop talking to them. People are beginning to notice and I reckon the men in white coats can’t be far away. The need to publicise has encouraged me into the realm of social media which has brought me into contact with hundreds of people throughout the world, who, although I have never met them, have become close. Success also brings rivalry. I regularly Tweet and Re-tweet positive things on behalf of around two hundred fellow writers, but there is one writer out there who has nothing good to say about me. That’s his choice. I won’t give you any details, but if you read this Dan, you have my sincerest thanks for your anonymous one star review!
Yes, get on with it! Everyone is meant to have a book in them somewhere; everyone has a story to tell so get writing. I read most genres but, try as I might I can’t get into futuristic or fantasy stories, so any advice I give can’t apply to those genres.
Fiction works best for me if I can believe it is real even though I know it’s not! Thus I tend to read any novel that puts a fictional character into a historical context. I am currently reading through C.J Sansom’s Matthew Chardlake series set in Tudor England.
I rapidly lose interest in a novel which brings unnecessary strong language into my living room. I mentioned it earlier but some writers seem to use the F word for no other purpose than to double their word count. I am not a prude and use some language in my novels, but only where I deem it appropriate to the story. One of my characters swears by stringing names of composers together, thus I aim to amuse my readers with the occasional Chopin, Bach and Beethoven, rather than offend them with something stronger. If you read the enduring classics of English literature, you will not find the language or explicit sex. It may be fashionable; they may titillate for a while; they may sell (pornography always has) but they will never become masterpieces of literature.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Only that I hope to please them with my work. I welcome feedback – but nowadays, I get daily emails from many fans and readers and it is a struggle to answer even a few. I’m having a great time writing, but I could do with a literary agent or publisher to take my work on board. I had so many rejection letters in the early days that rarely bother them these days, but I would still consider them if they wanted to take me on, but at the moment, I seem to be doing pretty well on my own.
Where and how can we see your work or purchase your books?
A search for Philip Catshill on Amazon, Smashwords or any EBook outlet brings up a list. An internet search for Philip Catshill brings about thirty-five thousand results. My writer’s name is worldwide unique, so all those entries refer to me, Gemma (another pseudonym) or the Worcestershire village where I was born.
What is the last book you read?
Gray Resurrection (Tom Gray 2) Another action packed adventure from Alan McDermott
If someone wrote a biography about you, what would be the title?
Never say I can’t.
Name three items which need to be with you at all times?
Ventolin inhaler for lungs, Nitrolingual spray for heart and my wife to remind me when to use them.
What is your pet-peeve?
For this I’ve written another poem:
Okay I’m in a wheelchair
Since a stroke took half my brain
But there’s some who have no care
And are driving me insane.
Nothing ruffles me as much
Or can get beneath my skin
As those who insist on touch
When they are not even kin.
A woman once laid her hand
To arrest my shopping spree
Said she thought it very grand
For them “cripples” just like me!
Smokers walk with cigarette
And flick ash as they pass by
Just understand I’m upset
When it’s level with my eye.
Cars parked in disabled bay
Or block the crossing places
Be a minute drivers say
Wide smile across their faces
Nice if some would open door
And then wait while I pass through
Yes, I’m closer to the floor
Am I invisible too?
What is your pet-passion?
The ballet. My wife shares my passion and therefore we visit the Birmingham Royal Ballet for at least one performance from every programme. We take in rehearsals, classes and talks. My passion for dance and movement has been reflected in my paintings.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I have siblings scattered on three continents but travel isn’t my thing. I’ve had a couple of trips and holidays abroad but I can’t say that I enjoyed them. I love England too much to leave it.
What makes you laugh?
Almost everything. I was a policeman long before anyone considered the need for stress counselling. After the horrendous incidents we had to deal with, laughter was the only outlet. It might sound macabre or unfeeling, but no one can carry other peoples’ stress around from one job to another. The only way to we had to cope in those days was to make a joke and laugh. Now I see that the whole of life is just a joke from start to finish. I am the same as anyone else in that I am sympathetic to tragedy, bereavement and the rest, but God gave us laughter as a gift, so I use it.
Philip Catshill is a former British police officer and lives in England. He has had several unique life experiences, near death encounters, physical disabilities and emotional incidents that have combined to provide a firm foundation for his excellent stories. As he approached his 60th birthday, Philip, who is still severely disabled, decided to write about that stroke from 30 years before. From that experience, there emerged the fictional character of Mike Newman, and his series of books Who Else Is There, Suffer Little Children, and Penalty for Murder.
You can follow Philip Catshill on