Monday, December 11, 2017

Interview with writer Leslie Croxford

Writer Leslie Croxford joins me today to share a bit about Deep Sahara. The book is both a psychological novel, partly poetic in places, and an investigative story. Leslie considers this mixture a strength. The book needs suspense, as in increasingly finding the insects are deformed because of nuclear testing, and emotional resonance as in the quest for the protagonist’s father. Either without the other would impoverish the novel.

During his virtual book tour, Leslie will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

Leslie Croxford is a British author and Senior Vice-President of the British University in Egypt. Born in Alexandria, he obtained a doctorate in History from Cambridge University. He has written one novel, Soloman's Folly (Chatto & Windus), and is completing his third. He and his wife live in Cairo.

Welcome, Leslie. Please share a little bit about your current release.
In Deep Sahara, a man, recovering from a nervous breakdown provoked by the death of his wife, takes advice from a family friend and retreats to a monastery in the deep Sahara to sketch desert insects for a book.

Upon arrival, however, he comes upon an appalling crime: the murder of all the monks. Numb and exhausted, he declines a police chief’s urgent suggestion that he leave. Despite his shock, the desert seems to promise solace, a vast nullity against which he can take stock of himself and do his work.

Yet, over the following weeks and months, his solitude is broken by a succession of encounters, all strange but somehow connected to him. Each appears to conceal some kind of secret. Even the insects he has come to study are mysteriously deformed, embodying an awful, hidden reality…

The man is forced to confront the echoes of one of the darkest moments in modern history, and to come to terms with the deepest mysteries of his own past.

Deep Sahara is a suspenseful exploration of one man’s emotional resurgence, rendered sparingly with great physical and psychological precision.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’d long had in mind some kind of a story about a monastery, because I knew some monks personally and used, as a student, to stay in monasteries as if they were YMCAs offering cheap holidays. Then in the 1990s I heard about the murder of monks in Algeria. And from that point on I had atmosphere, setting and the starting point for my plot.

Excerpt from Deep Sahara:
The main character lives in Rome and the novel starts as follows:

The front door has just closed. I’m finally alone in the apartment, using this morning’s stillness to begin the account I’ve been wanting to write for days. It’s a letter to myself after the battering I’ve received from the media – not to mention the anonymous death threats – for attacking the so-called “pillars of society”.

I need to sift through all that happened at the end of the world, coming back to me now like some dream. For the Sahara’s a place of mirages you can actually photograph: palm trees, oases, expanses of cool water, silent cities – there, but unreal. Conjuring up the past, I want to reassure myself that all I have claimed to have found among those shifting sands, on returning here to Rome, far from being the figment of my imagination critics allege, is actually the case: that the experience of unearthing – of understanding – what I have revealed has made me into a new person.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have almost finished another novel about an English historian revisiting a Spanish pueblo where Albert Speer’s driver had convalesced after decades in Russia as a POW. He has an affair with the driver’s ex-lover, drawing him into an unexpected review of Speer, himself and of the nature of history.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I saw the film of TREASURE ISLAND at the age of 5 I wondered how movies were made. I was told they were based on books. As a result, I thought of myself in terms of film, as an actor but also as a writer of stories.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a university administrator, currently Senior Vice-President of the British University in Egypt. So, I have had to use every spare minute for my writing. This has made the development of novels longer than they’d be if I were a full-time writer, but it does make me ponder themes and characters more deeply than I might otherwise do.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write as soon as I get up, in pyjamas, over breakfast. My wife doesn’t appreciate this since she enjoys breakfast and would like us to have it together. Apart from that, I read over my paragraphs repeatedly to make sure that they flow. And I follow the advice that no reader should have to read a sentence twice.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As I say above I was first fascinated by film, but this was a mixture of wanting to be an actor and inventor of stories.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I feel I am influenced by film. If I can’t see a scene in my mind’s eye, I don’t consider it successful.

Buy link | Amazon UK

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Unknown said...

congrats on the the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing!

Edgar Gerik said...

Great interview