By James W, Sunday 21st July 2013
Richard Madeley is one of our most respected broadcasters. Famous for fronting This Morning for over a decade with his wife Judy Finnigan, he is also a respected columnist and journalist and can be heard on Radio 2 each Sunday morning from 11am.
Richard has recently added another string to his bow as his first fiction book, Some Day I'll Find You has just been released to great critical acclaim and is the CBS Drama Book Of The Month. Here he chats about this, his writing techniques and what his future plans are.
(To try and win a signed copy of Some Day I'll Find You click here)
CBSD: Did you find approaching Some Day I'll Find You very different from your first book, Fathers And Sons?
RM: One hundred per cent. The creative process of writing a novel is massively different from creating a factual book. The latter is a form of journalism; the former has nothing to do with that discipline, and requires a completely different approach. Not so much a learning curve; more a vertical cliff face.
CBSD: How difficult was it to come up with the characters and plot for Some Day I’ll Find You?
RM: I spent almost two years searching for a plot for a novel and came up with a comprehensive blank. Then one morning I woke up and all the main characters had sort of moved into my head overnight – I knew their names, who they were, the period they were living in… it was most strange. By the end of that same day I had the basic arc of the story established in my mind. In a sense, that was the easy part. Because then I had to write it.
CBSD: Did it take you long to write?
RM: About 18 months, in between other freelance projects.
CBSD: It has, at first, have a very romantic plot which soon takes a dark and thrilling turn, did you find yourself getting emotionally engaged with the characters?
RM: Completely. Some novelists say writing is a lonely business, but I always felt I had my characters to keep me company. I genuinely liked all of them, even the psychopathic, murderous James Blackwell! But my wife Judy’s favourite was Diana’s father, ‘Mr Arnold’ (he’s so much more ‘Mr Arnold’ than ‘Oliver’, don’t you think?) And of course, as a peripheral character he really comes into his own at the end of the book. A storming finish for the old boy.
CBSD: How much research did you do to get the feeling of the period just right?
RM: Not a great deal. I know a lot about the Second World War, particularly the so-called ‘home front’ where part one of my book is positioned. And I know the South of France extremely well too. I obviously checked place-names, significant dates, fashion styles of the late 1930s and early 1950s, etc, but I’d say 75% of the ‘research’ was actually empirical observation.
CBSD: Do you have a strict writing regime or do you just write when you feel inspired?
RM: Both. I need a deadline, like most journalists. I can find a THOUSAND excuses for not writing on a particular day, but a looming deadline is a wonderful incentive to get cracking. Then I’m as strict with myself as the most unrelenting martinet.
CBSD: Did you ask any other authors for advice whilst you were writing?
RM: No, although I did discuss aspects of psychopathic behaviour with a psychiatrist friend who has had many books published.
CBSD: If it was turned into a movie who would be in your dream cast?
RM: Daniel Stevens (Downton Abbey) as James Blackwell – he’s the right age to play him as a twenty-something and a thirty-something… as for Diana, I have no clue. I’d be looking for someone who resembles Vivian Leigh in her youth.
CBSD: What tips would you give to someone wanting to write a novel?
RM: Write it. There was a great cartoon in Private Eye a few years ago. Two guys are sitting on a park bench. One says: ‘Terrific to meet you again, Philip! It must be 15 years at least! What are you doing these days?’ The other guy looks down modestly and says: ‘I’m writing a novel.’ They both sit in silence for a few moments before the first guy says glumly: ‘I’m not, as well.’ That sums it up.
CBSD: So what projects are you working on at the moment?
RM: BBC Radio 2's Sunday Brunch Show, live every week from 11am to 1pm – I LOVE doing that programme – the Richard And Judy Book Club: another selection of eight great reads just selected for release in September; three network TV pilots; and of course – the follow-up to Some Day I’ll Find You. But right now I’m taking a summer break. 2013 has been full-one from the off and I need a holiday!
CBSD: Richard Madeley, thank you very much.
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