Enjoy the interview. I sure did.
What inspired you to become a writer? Why did you go from non-fiction to fiction? Why did you choose this particular genre?
I wanted to be a writer since I was nine or ten. I would make up treasure maps and bury them in the garden hoping someone would discover them and dig them up. Sadly, they never did. When I was 15 I bought an old cast-iron typewriter from a junk shop, lugged it home on the bus and taught myself to type. The books I wrote in the evenings were not very original and, like the treasure maps, remained undiscovered.What’s your strongest point as a writer?
Eventually I managed to get a job as a journalist and worked on business magazines and newspapers. I developed an interest in geology and spent my spare time visiting cliffs and quarries collecting rocks and fossils and this started me investigating Darwinism. My first book was Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, which didn’t go down too well with some sections of the scientific community, who started foaming at the mouth and chewing the carpets. Richard Dawkins called me ‘loony’ and suggested I needed ‘psychiatric treatment’, although he didn’t trouble himself to respond to any of the scientific questions I raised.
I wrote several other non-fiction books. Alternative Science looks at the curious phenomenon where some scientists are averse to new discoveries and declare certain subjects taboo. Bad Company looks at why large corporations sometimes behave in insanely self-defeating ways. Best of Enemies examines Anglo-German relations through two world wars and the birth of the PR industry.
I started writing fiction because I find it the most challenging and the most satisfying form, but in my stories the factual background is never far away and I like themes that introduce the unusual, the exotic and even the paranormal into everyday life.
I consider myself very lucky to have been trained in old-school journalism where you are compelled to express the facts as economically as possible and still tell an interesting and engaging story. I was given one tip early on that I find very useful in fiction. I always draft a novel first (mainly) in dialogue, like a screenplay, and add the exposition and descriptions later. This makes your story lean and mean and stops all the throat-clearing and long-winded descriptions.As Author, what do you consider your most difficult obstacle?
The biggest obstacle to writers is the traditional publishing industry which now works against us rather than with us. The big publishers have squeezed out mid-range authors in favour of books “authored” by TV celebrities, sports stars and models, and will no longer even look at unagented manuscripts. The good news is that the reservoir of writing talent that traditional publishers have sponged off for so long now has an alternative outlet in the form of professional self publishing and especially Kindle.What new projects can we look forward to from you, and where and when will they be available?
I’m putting all my books, past, present and future on Kindle. So far, I’ve published Dead Secret, The Glass Harmonica and Conjuring for Beginners, as well as my non-fiction book Shattering the Myths of Darwinism. If anyone wishes to review any of these, please email me and I’ll be happy to email you a complementary copy.Where can we find you?
My latest Kindle novel is Conjuring For Beginners (only put up last week and at the time of writing no-one has yet reviewed it at all). It’s a story about a woman magazine journalist, Rosa Daniels, whose father - Ferdy Daniels - is a legendary con artist living out his days in Switzerland. When Ferdy dies alone and penniless, Rosa, inherits his victims who are convinced she was his partner in crime. To stay alive, Rosa must unravel Ferdy’s web of deceits. But to understand her father’s past, she must learn to become as quick-witted and cunning as Ferdy. She must learn to become a conjuror like him.
In the next few months, I’ll be publishing a fourth fiction book, a collection of short stories called True Stories, and more non-fiction, starting with The Ministry of Spin and then a follow-up to my Darwin book titled Darwin Doesn’t Work Here Anymore.
My website, with more details of all my books is at www.richardmilton.net If anyone would like to contact me directly my email is firstname.lastname@example.org (note the site has a different domain name from the email).