To celebrate the release of his new book A Version of the Truth, out now in all formats, we asked author B P Walter to let us in on a few facts all about him! Here's what he had to reveal...
1. I’m an obsessive reader: Probably not unusual for an author, but I absolutely love reading. I eagerly set my GoodReads reading challenge every year and try to hit it in the early autumn. It isn’t just the content that intrigues me – the book as a physical object fascinates me, from the cover design to the choice of finish. Working in the book industry, I’m fortunate enough to be regularly given proof copies that have unfinished covers on cheaper paper, and it’s so lovely to get to read a book in advance, but I often find myself avoiding a proof and waiting for a ‘finished copy’ to come out with the proper cover and good substantial binding – I enjoy the experience so much more!
2. Audiobooks are my go-to format for consuming books: I realise this probably sounds wildly contradictory to what I’ve just said, but hear me out: I used to read every day on the train to and from work (I lived in Essex and would commute in to where I worked in St James’s in Central London). Now I live in London, I walk to work each day, meaning my prime reading – usually over two hours a day – has been cut out. I still try to ringfence time to read physical books, as I still love everything about them, but audio has always had a special place in my reading life ever since I was a child, and now more than ever. I just download a book to my iPhone, put it on and set off for work, and suddenly a half hour walk flies by.
3. I used to want to be a film critic: I have been obsessed with movies and TV drama all my life and studied Film & English at university. While at uni, I became involved in the student paper and edited the film section. I got to interview brilliant actors and directors, and the whole thing was a lot of fun, but I always had this need in the back of my head to create stories of my own, rather than write about other people’s, so I turned my attention to fiction.
4. I try to go to the cinema at least twice a week: During my childhood and teen years, my Dad took me to the cinema every week, so I’ve always been used to going often. I’m very lucky to have two Cineworld cinemas within walking distance, and their Unlimited membership means I practically live in there. When possible, I always opt to see a movie in IMAX – I love the colossal screen and superior picture quality.
5. I’ve worked in the book industry since I was 16: Working in a bookshop was a natural first step for me when I was a teenager and had a brilliant time working in Waterstones Brentwood. I’ve since worked in shops in Basildon, Southampton and Romford, and now work for the Head Office of Waterstones in London.
6. My job is all about social media...but I’m trying to spend less time on it: I now coordinate the main social media channels for Waterstones, but away from my job I’m doing my best to cut down on my phone-screen time. It’s so easily to fall into a black hole of newsfeeds, notifications and photo filtering. So, for the sake of my own wellbeing and quality of sleep, I’m trying to limit my exposure to the smartphone in the evenings. I don’t always win, but if I break my own rules I try to make it a conscious decision to post something particular or check something I want to know, rather than let it become habitual and mindless.
7. A creative writing course was one of the best things I’ve ever done: I know there are some authors who disapprove a bit of creative writing courses, but I think they’re terrific. My time on the Faber Academy really helped me exercise and train to write fiction – similar to how an athlete would get better with instruction and practice. And I had a brilliant tutor, the author Rowan Coleman, who was wonderfully supportive and inspiring.
8. I adore Yankee Candles and burn a different one depending on which book I’m writing: I find it helps me focus to have a large jar Yankee Candle burning next to me when I’m in the midst of writing a book, and each book gets its own Candle. Because A Version of the Truth is partly set over the festive season, and I wrote a lot of it in the Christmas of 2016 (followed by rewrites over the Christmas of 2017), the candle I picked for this book was Christmas Memories. I’m currently working on a more earthy, scary book set in the middle of a forest in October, so I’ve currently got a candle named Autumn Night on the go right now. It’s perfect.
9. When I plan a book, I cast actors as the characters: This probably comes from my love of cinema, but with each book I find it so helpful to lay out a cast-list of characters using of photos of actors who I think they would look like. It’s immensely helpful during the writing process, especially when I start to cut things up and move chapters around – if I have the faces in my head, I manage to get through the whole thing much easier.
10. I have a ‘Siblings Book Club’ with my sisters: Now we all live in different areas, it’s great to be able to plan a time for me and my two sisters to meet up in a Costa for a hot chocolate and discuss a set book. Recently, we’ve had some terrific discussions about Emily Koch’s If I Die Before I Wake, C.L. Taylor’s The Treatment and Pam Jenoff’s The Orphan’s Tale. They’re both currently reading my book at the moment for our next book club meeting, which is rather daunting!
A Version of the Truth is available now in all formats.
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