5 min read
Author Interview - Nigel Kemble-Clarkson
Nigel Kemble-Clarkson, author of Blake's Progress, has lived a fascinating life. In a recent interview published in the summer edition of our Highlights magazine, Nigel explains how his life and travels led to him now writing his first novel and his links to its main character.
Tell us about your book
Having completed a controversial military career in the Royal Fusiliers, Captain Richard Blake finds that his subsequent part-time service in the Army Officer Special Reserve Corps is soon significantly eating into his first civilian career as a broker in Lloyd’s of London. Initially, this is in no small part due to the irresponsibly passionate side of his nature allowing him to become the victim of a dazzling lady who is subversively anti-British. What then ensues, including the tragically violent death of his lover, draws him more deeply into secret service involvement. He then falls under the ruthless control of a dictatorial colonel who persuades Richard’s employers to allow him to become a full-time MI6 agent. Having then been almost murdered during a New York mission, the new boy is selected to take part in a vital West African operation with a former fellow officer and old friend. Matters then become highly complex and hazardous, which dramatically intensifies when his friend is sadistically slaughtered by their main opponent and Captain Blake is obliged to face further dangers in the Far East and during his secondment to the Nigerian Army as he continues to fight Western civilisation’s enemies.
What three things do you think your readers should know about you or your writing?
Firstly, I always endeavour to ensure that my stories contain a blandly explicit and lively balance of romance, mystery and, often ferocious, drama. However, I have always sewn a titillating thread of humour throughout. Secondly, due to having lived a full and varied life, I am able to draw upon my experiences to embroider my stories and I always research the incidental factors and events thoroughly. Thus, although the tales are obviously fictional, they are laced with considerable accuracy and truth to perfect their entertainment content. Thirdly, due in no small part to the dangerous and stressful times that everyone is now living through, I assiduously avoid writing stories with deep, dark messages. I am determined that, when someone finishes one of my books, they have been cheered up by having been thrilled, even if a trifle shocked, and thoroughly entertained!
When did you decide to write a book?
I have always been a keen writer, but my copious efforts in the past were confined to periodical and newspaper articles either when I felt sufficiently strongly about something, or in order to promote my Lloyd’s broking business and also concerning historical matters, in which I have always been deeply interested. The only exception occurred twelve years ago, when, by burning much midnight oil, I managed to put together and publish a light-hearted autobiography in hardback, Reflections of a Rascal. It was not until I retired a couple of years ago that I devoted my full attention to becoming a serious author and I am delighted to say that the follow-up to my recently released Blake's Progress is almost completed.
After writing the book, how did you decide how and when to publish it?
My above-mentioned first book was published by a section of Troubador Publishing and, as a superb job was done by you twelve years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt of using anyone else last year. I was right and I am delighted with both the charm and efficiency of the staff. I always follow your advice on when to publish.
What do you love the most about your published book?
Having always been somewhat of a nonconformist, the more outrageous passages tickle me the most, not least of all the sensual ones! Having said that, I do consider that the answer to this question might be less frivolous if my novel contained less light-hearted content.
Which book do you wish you had written?
War and Peace, overlooking the fact that the novel’s length would probably have inflicted terminal writers’ cramp upon any author with less robust qualities of endurance than Tolstoy, it contains consummate qualities which I personally revere. This is because the story not only contains a fascinating cross-section of characters who convincingly typify the period but also the historical aspects are recounted with enthralling historical accuracy, including the battle of Borodino and Napoleon’s tragic retreat from Moscow. My penchant for this period of history alone heavily influences my opinion.
How do you like to write? Do you have a routine that you like to follow?
In most respects, I am totally undisciplined, however, when it comes to achieving the object of an important aim, I am zealously disciplined. Therefore, every day that I am at home, including weekends, I religiously devote a minimum period of three hours to writing.
What books or authors have had the most influence on your own writing, and why?
To be boringly obvious, William Shakespeare, but this is mainly because I come from a theatrical family, including John Phillip Kemble (who was the Lawrence Olivier of the eighteenth and nineteenth century) and am a keen theatre goer. Also, as has already been mentioned, I am an avid historian. From a purely descriptive point of view, I consider the Henry V prologue and the Sergeant’s description of the battle in the first act of Macbeth to be poignant examples. Partly for the same reason, I am a great fan of Bernard Cornwell’s and CS Forester’s works as, although Sharpe and Hornblower were not present, the events in which they feature are accurately and fascinatingly described. As many other people do, I always enjoy Wilbur Smith's books as a great holiday read as his fluently told tales are ambitiously and sometimes shockingly recounted and crammed with an abundance of contrasting characters.
What books are you reading at the moment?
A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks. This undoubtedly ambitious novel attempts to combine drama, and satire and expose a sinister side of the financial sector, of which I was a part for sixty years. I am also reading ‘Aperture, an autobiography by my late great friend, John Downing, MBE with whom I enjoyed many wild and scintillating times after first meeting him in 1970 and during which he won the Fleet Street ‘Photographer of the Year’ award seven times!
How do you find out about new books?
Mainly via friends and family, including my intellectual wife who is an avid reader who, thank God, appears to have enjoyed Blake's Progress.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Not really, but let’s hope and pray that my latest book attracts millions of paying fans and that the follow-up, soon due, is equally popular! Find out more about Nigel's books here.