1. What can you tell our readers about your new book The Trouble with Girls?
The Trouble With Girls (TWG) is a memoir. It is essentially a true story, although I mixed up the characters and places to protect the (not so) innocent people that are portrayed. I first started writing it over ten years ago through a writers' course. The given advice was to write about what you know. Rugby is not that interesting really so I wrote about the army and girl trouble.
The idea for the book began whilst on holiday in Thailand with a girlfriend of about six months. It was the monsoon season so we were stuck in the hotel. My idea was to get some champagne, silk scarves and other accessories and hunker down in the room till it stopped raining. The lady suggested we play chess.
I started the story in the jungle camp in Belize because this was where I first realised that I always seemed to be getting into trouble. At university I assumed that it was because there were lots of young people all thrown together and wanting to party but in the jungle there were 30 blokes and one girl. I was the most junior person there so the lady's interest surprised me. It surprised my my friends as well.
2. The story concludes in Cyprus, why did you decide to take it there?
I situated this piece in Cyprus because that is where it happened, where I proposed to the woman I thought was my soul mate. There seemed to be a romantic sense of fate that I should eventually find love on the island of Aphrodite. Then I got petrol bombed which, in retrospect, was a fatalistic warning.
3. The book is said to be 'Sex in the City for boys' why do you think this is?
Essentially because the book deals with the same issues of finding 'the one', but from a male perspective. Equally, I could have tagged it as a male Bridget Jones story. As far as I could see, these matters had not been portrayed from the blokes' angle. I wanted to balance things out. Recently, a friend dubbed it 'Fifty Shades of Khaki'.
4. You are an ex infantry officer is this why your main protagonist is in the army?
Yes, I've been lucky in some of the adventures I've had and Mayan ruins, rafting in the Rockies and diving in Malaysia seemed likeinteresting locations for the story. Moreover, the incongruity of TWG in a remote and hostile location emphasised the point I was trying to make. I also wanted to illustrate the other side of the army. Much has been written about the courage that military people routinely demonstrate but I wanted to show the chaos, frustration, irony and humour of being a soldier. It is accepted that being a soldier in Northern Ireland was difficult, but what about the old lady who needed to get through the riots to go home and feed her cat?
5. How much has your own travelling aided your writing?
A great deal. By luck and design, I have been to some very interesting places that have inspired, if not compelled, me to write about them. Wrapping that up withstories about love found and lost (and shared) was very satisfying.
6. When did your flair for writing commence?
As a kid, really. When I left primary for 'big' school, the English teacher immediately recognised my interest in writing stories and encouraged me. I have wanted to write all my life.
7. Who do you most like to read?
I have read all Bernard Cornwell's historical work. His stories are historically accurate and his writing is compelling. Wilbur Smith is a fantastic writer and his characters are the man you think you are after a few beers. I also love John Grisham although the endings of his more recent novels have been a bit limp. At university I read a lot of Chick Lit in an attempt to understand female perspectives. It didn't work, I still got into trouble.
8. Which authors have influenced your writing over the years?
As well as the great writers mentioned above, I was also influenced by Helen Fielding and the Billy Hanson character in my book has a lot of Bridget Jones in him. I read contemporary books by Amy Lee and Belle de Jour specifically to get a flavour of their work. Tony Parsons probably had some sway on me too, although his books lack any real dynamic.
Away from writing, I have been influenced by people like Sigmund Freud. He said that everybody has subconscious desires and if we act upon them we are labelled perverts but if we suppress them we become neurotic. I have suggested to my wife that dressing up as Lara Croft or something would be good for her emotional health. She has read Fifty Shades but still does not feel she should be spanked.
9. Do you think every man has a little bit of Billy's character inside them?
Yes, Billy is an inherently good bloke. He just can't resist temptation.
10. What is next for you?
I plan to write more books although my priority in life is being a dad.
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Female First Lucy Walton