Writers Bloke – Rob Ridley
The Masters of the Chandelle Locations Challenge.
Rob Ridley’s first novel, The Masters of the Chandelle, is set in West and North Norfolk and he has created fictional locations based on real buildings or locations.
Using the extracts set out below, the first three individuals to correctly identify at least three locations will receive a free copy of his novel.
You can email your answers to Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just one attempt per person and the challenge ends when the first three sets of correct answers are received by Rob or at midnight on 20th of February 2018. The correct answers will be published on this website after the challenge ends.
- In which real market town is the fictional bank set?
The Eastern Counties Bank formed part of a small triangular group of buildings that sat in the center of the market town of Walsham. The triangle had roads on all sides that were currently filled with market stalls. Thursday was market day and this was the bank’s busiest day of the week.
The bank’s large entrance door faced south into the main market square across the road. The stone steps up to the entrance were worn as the past one hundred and fifty years had seen no shortage of custom. The name was something of a misnomer, as no Eastern Counties Bank could be found outside the county of Norfolk. The bank was so successful the directors had decided there was no need for further expansion.
- Which real beach does the character Mike walk along?
He turned off on to a track that took him to a massive shingle bank, completely blocking out the view of the sea. Mike got out of the car and walked up to the summit. Looking east and west, the bank stretched off into the distance. The tide was out and exposed the steeply banked shingle dotted with numerous small islands of sand. A few wartime concrete and brick pillboxes sat either way in the distance. The pillboxes were slowly being claimed by the sea and already sinking into the shingle.
- On which real ex-RAF base was this large dome situated?
They walked along a track with the perimeter fence of the airfield on one side and small conifers on the other. In the middle distance were the hangars, clearly visible with the dome at the eastern end. Mike knew this would be a good entry point to cross the airfield at night. He estimated he would need to cover a distance of one thousand yards to get to the dome.
- This farmhouse complex is situated by a road between Great Massingham and which village?
Mike parked the Maserati by the side of the road that passed the farmhouse. The main building was set back from the road and sat at the base of a small hill that climbed away from what must have been the back garden. Despite the freezing temperature of the early morning, the farmhouse looked almost idyllic in the sunlight, which gave the green of the hill an intensity that was almost like summer in its nature. Above the small hill the sky was cloudless and blue as the brightest of any July day. The whole property was intermittently spread with Scots Pine trees that allowed the light to stream on to the ground.
Having the inspiration to write is a wonderful thing. Inspiration is also something very difficult to grasp as it arguably only exists in the mind. What inspires one person is totally ignored by another. For me, this means inspiration is infinitely variable and can be found anywhere if you get those antennae twitching. The paradox is this concept cannot be quantified until after you do something about it.
So where do you find inspiration? It may be the germ of an idea that pops into head apparently from nowhere. A person might give you an idea that you can expand into a whole book. This is exactly what happened to me and led to the writing of my first novel. If you want to put a crude value on this, you could say the output was 378 pages made up of over 90,000 words.
They say travel broadens the mind, especially the writer’s mind. This worked for me and led to my second novel. The world is incredibly diverse and full of incredible experiences to feed the mind. If travel is a problem I also recommend reading, lots of it. Read anything that you like, fact, fiction, newspapers, comics, blogs, to get the creative and inspirational ideas appearing. You get to learn an awful lot as well as further fuelling your ideas. Becoming a writer gives you the ability to see and experience the world in ways you may not have experienced before.
Looking at the world in new and different ways fuels your imagination and ideas will start falling out of your ears. I think this is where I get so much of my inspiration. This inspiration can be short-lived and fleeting in nature. The fantastic idea for a novel that came to you yesterday as you put the rubbish out is half forgotten the next day. I make a note of a good idea using what is to hand and is often stored in the notes section on my mobile phone. Strategically placed notebooks and paper come in very useful too. Warning: Don’t be surprised/disappointed if your brilliant and inspirational idea loses some of its shine when you revisit it later.
Being open to inspiration is a habit you might need to learn, perhaps relearn and then practice. Once you become proficient you can find inspiration everywhere. You can tune into the world differently, see things differently and sometimes look past the obvious to find an original idea. An example? Think about how many science fiction novels you can find in a book shop. Human imagination is limitless.
Writing is something of a long-distance rollercoaster. The worst kind because you do not get to see the approaching falls, rises and curves. If you get the writing bug you do not want to get off either. Like a nightmare, you are glued into the seat and have no option other than complete the journey come what may. Even if you can see what is ahead and close your eyes the ride never stops. All a bit dramatic and scary isn’t it? Well, like it or not you do have to face your fears.
You are about to do something that puts you right in the spotlight. You might fear that writing tells the world about you. Something of your soul is suddenly available for all to see. Yes, indeed, but have you thought how people then see you in a new and positive light. You have demonstrated a new and fascinating capability to think and create. Your story prompts imagery and thoughts in the minds of friends and complete strangers in ways never before.
There is the constant, yes constant, fear of failure. The brilliant story you have written may be a turkey that will end up being ridiculed. For the record, the only other person to read my first novel before it was published was the proof-reader. I had no idea if I was going to make a fool of myself or not. The same thing with my second novel. I am writing my third novel, a sequel to the first, so my fears turned out be imagined and not real.
Rollercoasters are also thrilling and exciting. Grab the many positives to be had. The excitement of receiving the printed copy of your first novel through the post. Getting to hold it in your hands and flick through the pages. Priceless. You then have the buzz of giving shiny copies to friends and family. The look on their faces is also priceless. Later, you can experience the thrill of unsolicited feedback from someone you don’t know as they praise your work.
Remember rollercoasters put the fun in fair. There is excitement, there are thrills and only a remote whiff of danger (except, perhaps, from the burger bar…). Funfair rides can deliver a terrifying ride, but you get the satisfaction of saying ‘I did that’. A completed book goes one further and allows you to say, ‘I made that’. Your work is unique, you own it completely and with a bit of luck may even earn a little something from your efforts.
When were you last paid to take a rollercoaster ride?
Fiction is a Waste of Time.
Many books are written with a purpose in mind and are not necessarily written to provide entertainment. Workshop manuals, history books, and cookery books do entertain in their own way, but they won’t challenge our morality or sense of right and wrong. Books dealing with travel or educational might stretch to the limit of what we might expect in the way of entertaining non-fiction. No Haynes manual will take us on a journey that climaxes with the fitting of a new engine and delivers closure with a tightening of the last nut. Fiction delivers all this and more without the need of real-world props or activity.
A good story can play with your imagination regardless of who you are. A certain young wizard is an excellent example of that. Words fire up the imagery that then runs amok in the reader’s mind. Stories twist and turn with unexpected outcomes the reader may or may not wish to happen. The writer must make the words come to life and engage the reader so that they want to know what happens next. The reader hopefully gets to care about what happens to characters portrayed in the story, they can be disappointed by flaws in a doctor’s character or uplifted when a heroine finally saves the day.
Using a recipe book to create a homemade dessert will be an emotional rollercoaster for me, depending on how it turns out, but the action still takes place in the real world. The outcome is largely down to me as well. Not so reading a novel; the reader has no influence on the outcome and is swept along in the torrent of words spilling from the pages. These words are both magic and immutable. The writer creates and communicates messages that force the reader to think and respond.
This is because fiction is an amalgam of reality and imagination. Everything the writer communicates is his or her reimagination of the real world and their experience of it. Reality gaps are covered over/totally rebuilt with the writer’s imagination to make a story work. The story must reflect reality to some degree or how could the reader possibly understand it? Even fantasy novels must reflect reality, or the fantasy simply doesn’t work.
Fiction turns out to provide a way of understanding our lived reality. Stories may be morality tales of goodies and baddies or victories and defeats. These types of opposites litter the lives we lead. They can also create feelings that are happy or sad and make the reader process their own emotions in response. Just the same way as in real life. Reading fiction provides all this without the need to physically fight a dragon or hunt down a psychotic serial killer.
As English as a Cup of Tea.
As a mature student, I studied social science with the Open University. The very first unit I read was entitled As English as a Cup of Tea. The idea we students were meant to take away was when you stop and think about it, tea is not English at all. You can say that the unit was simply pointing out the obvious. Yet if we knew this all along, we still went through life accepting the saying ‘As English as a cup of tea’ without question. Things are often not always what they seem when you start to think about them.
As a child, through my early years and right into my later years I carried the idea that writers must be very special. Writing a novel was something way beyond someone like me. To be a writer you had to be highly educated, have lots of time etc, etc, so aspiring to be another Salman Rushdie or Graham Greene was a little crazy. Contemporary writers such as Ray Bradbury and Hilary Mantel prove otherwise. Equally, many other less successful ‘ordinary’ people make a very good living as writers doing something they love.
The reality is writers exist in ALL walks of life and they all have something in common: a desire to write. This can come at any time or place. Mine? Sitting inside a concrete bunker waiting for a storm to pass whilst on one of my working trips to South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. That day I put pen to paper. The first story was never finished, nor was the second but the desire to write never left me. Today, I have written two novels and my third is underway.
Just have a go and ignore anyone who says you can’t write. Their opinions are more than likely based upon their own life experience and are not necessarily applicable to your own. You probably can write, though it may take time to get it right. Be persistent and patient because no writer has ever written the perfect novel. Writers eventually decide the novel is good enough to publish.
So aspiring writers, next time you have a cup of tea (or coffee!) do not believe your dream is simply that. Like your English tea, things are not always what they seem. Close inspection will show all those insurmountable barriers to you writing are simply baseless fears. Lorry drivers can write. Supermarket shelf stackers can write. Builders can write. You can write.
Simply overcome your fears and feed the germ of desire within you.
Parthenope Reborn is a contemporary crime thriller set in and around Naples, Capri and Ischia. This is the second novel written by Great Massingham resident, Rob Ridley.
The Bay of Naples faces a threat that will dwarf even the greatest eruption of Vesuvius.
Englishman Leo Grant travels to Italy in search of love and adventure. Soon after arriving in Naples finds himself enmeshed in deadly crime conspiracy where he meets three beautiful women but only one becomes his lover.
Events spiral out of control and Leo is soon caught up between the Neapolitan Camorra, the American FBI and the Italian Guardia di Finanza as he races to prevent a cataclysmic disaster being inflicted upon modern-day Italy.
Find out what happens to Leo and the cast of characters drawn from across Europe and the USA.
Parthenope Reborn is available now from the Amazon Bookstore.
If you are a resident in Great Massingham you can get in touch with Rob and he will be pleased to get a copy for you. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com and you can visit his Author’s Page on Amazon . He can also be found on Twitter by searching RARidley.
Rob’s latest project is a sequel to his first novel, The Masters of the Chandelle , and will be published next year.
The Masters of the Chandelle is a thriller set in early sixties Cold War Britain and is the first novel written by Great Massingham resident, Rob Ridley.
The novel’s hero, Mike Armstrong, is a successful criminal who escapes to the tranquillity of a small village in Norfolk, England.
He is soon befriended by a beautiful woman who blackmails him into spying upon a mysterious businessman.
Once entangled in a deadly conspiracy to spy for the British secret services, Mike finds himself in mortal danger trying to uncover the secret plan of a murderous and powerful sociopath.
A vicious struggle ensues between the two men with the fate of world peace hanging in the balance.
Find out if Mike can survive his ordeal and find true love against a backdrop of death and destruction.
If you are a resident in Great Massingham you can get in touch with Rob and he will be pleased to get a copy for you. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob has an Author’s Page on Amazon at goo.gl/SEhGSp and can be followed on Twitter @robwritesnovels. His second novel is a contemporary crime thriller set in Naples and will be published later this year.