© 2013 Clive Eaton
Author Bio: Roy Baldwin was born in south Lancashire, did a maths and physics degree at the University of Liverpool and has lived and worked around the UK in various guises as an educationalist, night club owner, civil servant, musician, conservator and management consultant. He is now a writer and digital publisher of women’s fiction and author of the Rhapsody series of science themed romance and thriller novels, which are controversially set around the nuclear industry. He regularly commentates on the wider book and publishing trends, and provides learning and development consultancy to the bookselling trade.
Brief Synopsis: Rhapsody of Power
Nuclear scientist Lauren Hind returns to Brussels to find her company, Cassini Power, riven by plots and turmoil and her Research Director role threatened. Confident in her adaptability and desperately needing a change of direction, she decides to face down her antagonistic Chairman, whilst seeking solace in a splurge of fashionable shopping indulgence in advance of her expected big payoff.
Appearances however can be deceptive and an unexpected turn of events shakes up her perceptions and sets her off on a new path towards career possibilities and a world stage she could only previously have dreamed about. But threats and a puzzling technical dilemma shake her out of any cosy feelings of finally being in control of her life, because she has to decide where her loyalties lie and confront once again who she really is and her true feelings. Aspects of her recent past have not quite gone away as she had hoped and expected.
A looming catastrophe, with enormous consequences for Europe and the rest of the world, reveals the true extent of her capability to deal with serious dangers. To add to her confused feelings and foreboding, her Chairman is at the centre of the murky wheeling and dealing and she is summoned to engage in an adventure which could lead to her death and destruction. She badly needs help and there is only one person to turn to again, who could annihilate her in a moment. And there is still her Chairman …
What do you do to relax when you are not writing?
I’m fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, near Norwich, with great countryside and coastal areas, so I head there to chill with my wife, Corri, and get some inspiration.
What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?
I used to love story writing at school, but eventually real life kicked in and I spent much of my career creating and writing endless reports and policies instead. That early love of fiction had withered away until remarkably four years ago, when I discovered Stieg Larsson and the Girl with The Dragon Tattoo. The series, with its off-beat, complex relationship plots and murky characters blew me away. From that point I regenerated and the fiction has since poured forth!
What or who inspired you to write your current novel?
As a former science adviser and educationalist, I spent a lot of time leading initiatives to encourage women to take up science and engineering, and I have always been fascinated with nuclear technologies and energy generation. So it seemed a natural stepping off point to combine the two concepts and create exciting contemporary romance and adventure for the reader to enjoy, alongside easy learning about some interesting and topical science at the same time. I call this new science within women’s fiction sub-genre SciRom
Tell us three interesting facts about your book, which are not covered in the synopsis.
1) Rhapsody of Power is the second book in the Rhapsody series, so although the book also stands alone, more subtleties of background of Lauren Hind, the French protagonist and a number of the other main characters can be digested and savoured from the first book, Rhapsody of Restraint, set in time around 5 years ago.
2) Technically difficult nuclear science situations, embellished in a fictional context, thread themselves throughout the book, but I have tried hard to portray events in a fun and easy understandable language for the non-science reader to both enjoy and learn. Lots of popular science books can take that taster of enjoyment further if desired. Being a former teacher helped with that!
3) The entire point of view of the Rhapsody series is seen through female scientist eyes, i.e. the protagonist and her friends and colleagues, so the complex relationship issues, interests, crises and preoccupations are all met and resolved by women. And some interesting places are visited.
What research did you need to do for this book?
I had to get up to speed with the latest progress in nuclear physics and energy generation. That was hard, but one day nuclear fusion will release us from the constant worries over climate change and fossil fuel burning, when the energy processes in the sun are commercially replicated on Earth. I am also on a continual learning curve with women’s fashions – fun but even more dangerous to write about than entering a nuclear fission core!
Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?
I have known a number of female scientists and engineers for many years and contrary to some popular charactertures they are fun, feisty and very fashionable as well as great, hard working role models for young, up and coming students. Science can be sexy, fun and well paid and this aspect is a key feature of the Rhapsody series.
Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress
I’m working on a number of projects. As well as being in the middle of the next book, Rhapsody of Fate, I have recently been doing some intensive training on film script writing as I would like to adapt the Rhapsody series into a TV drama. A totally different creative experience to novels. I am also working on a fictional biography of a famous mathematician.
What process did you adopt from inception through to the finished book?
I write by the seat of my pants rather than undertake detailed planning. I start with a rough framework and go hell for leather to complete a whole first draft, editing each chapter roughly one by one. Then the real work begins; what I call creative editing, rewriting, adding things, proofing etc. Actually I find this a very enjoyable process but it took me a good six months before I was happy with the final product.
What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?
I mostly write in my business office, always at night. I need long bursts of concentrated peace and quiet in familiar surroundings and move constantly from device to device using Dropbox, so I can also wander into my local Costa occasionally with my Kindle Fire for inspiration and maintain continuity of the story.
What prompted you to self-publish your current book?
Being somewhat geek oriented, I also wanted to learn all the processes of digital publishing, and used the novel writing as a test-bed to understand and learn editing, formatting, print on demand, eBooks, book cover-design, etc. I find publishing as much fun as writing and now I can publish and support other new writers of women’s fiction. Every part of Rhapsody of Power, except the physical printing, has been created and completed by me.
What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?
1) Time distractions: It’s surprising how often daily life necessities cut into those important periods of necessary writing quiet, so becoming a forced recluse occasionally and reluctantly not watching The Killing was the answer.
2) Understanding the genre: Being a male writer of female issues has obvious challenges, so I have to continually research and do a lot of reading of good women’s fiction and listen to feedback. I have a small dedicated group of female beta readers who really help. I think it is essential for all fiction writers, whatever genre, to put time into continuous learning and refining of their writing craft and there is a lot of amazing online blog and newsletter advice and support digitally available; but be discriminate and stick to a few you value or it gets overwhelming.
3) Editing and knowing when to end: One thing I have learned the hard way is don’t publish too early. I have edited Rhapsody of Power over and over again, until I finally felt truly happy with the quality of the product. If writing and self publishing is a new skill you really do have to put in the 10,000 hours on editing and not be daunted by the thought. Sex scenes are the most challenging to get the nuance and language right for the type of novel and need a lot of refinement.
Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?
Funnily enough this isn’t something I seem to have a problem with, but it may be because once I start to write then the characters immediately take over, and the imagination charges ahead. My advice for paralysis by analysis is to get your butt in the chair and just write – there are in the end no rules.
What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?
Treat your writing as a small business start-up requiring the same discipline – stay professionally determined, flexible and focussed, produce the best work you can, keep on learning and network physically and online with other writers. Isolation is not good for creativity.
What genre does your book fall into?
I love unusual cross-genre fiction and my books fall into contemporary science-romance-thriller, which is an uncommon mix, but broadly I am writing women’s fiction.
How did you get interested in this specific genre?
As I indicated earlier, partly because I have worked extensively with female scientists and mathematicians and wanted to create some fun and challenging fiction around those experiences, but quite likely there are other aspects in my own background. Like D H Lawrence and Albert Einstein, I had a strong maternal influence and little paternal involvement in my childhood and early aspirations.
You as a reader
Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?
1) H G Wells – my first introduction as a child to science fiction with frightening predictions of the future. His writing style is now somewhat old-fashioned but for plot and character development he was a master.
2) Susan Lewis – accidental discovery in a Mediterranean holiday apartment of her novel, The French Affair, devoured by the pool, unexpectedly awakened a latent love of women’s fiction. The rest of Susan’s novels taught me a lot about balancing effective prose with supportive description and how to recognise and become comfortable with your own consistent style.
3) Stieg Larsson – His millennium series of three novels reopened my eyes to the real enjoyment of effective fictional conflict and tension set around serious contemporary and political issues and gave me an insight into how to write a series rather than a one off novel. Although not a great lover of crime fiction generally, I have since become a serious addict to Scandinavian noir and their TV adaptations.
What was your favourite book as a child?
War of the Worlds by H G Wells, read over and over until the cover fell off.
What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?
Vector a Modern Love Story by J J Brown. A wonderful short novel of superb writing, depicting the most intense interactions of joy, fears and connection between two people. Jennifer is also an awesome scientist.
What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?
Drowning Rose by Marika Cobbold. My friend wanted to know the difference between women’s fiction and romance so I gave her this book. Central to all Marika’s work are strong but quirky women with difficult pasts and unresolved guilt and remorse; amazing writing.
Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?
I’m a fervent eReader evangelist, mainly Kindle but also Kobo and Sony, both as dedicated eInk devices and now tablets for colour. They are great for reading fiction for long periods - I seem to finish an eBook quicker than print. I also use them for final editing – really good.
Hollywood is calling
You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?
I must admit I have been thinking a lot about this lately, but still waiting for the call! I am struggling to choose between Cameron Diaz and Rachel Weisz for my nuclear research protagonist, Professor Lauren Hind. Both play strong, individualistic and quirky women fantastically well. Javier Bardam is definitely the bad guy, to add a touch of unconventional No Country for Old Men malice. And the beguiling Slavic love interest and kick-ass female intelligence sleuth should be Vera Farmiga. Gosh, what a mix of characters.
The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?
I need a genius who can bring a fusion of classical and jazz to represent links to the past and pathways to the future – so it has to be Jamie Cullen.
Drink – Cold Pinot
Meal – Traditional Xmas Turkey Dinner
Holiday destination – Sicily
TV programme – Homeland
Film – Melancholia
Method of travel – 4 X 4 vehicles
Sport – Tennis
How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: Roy Baldwin
Where can readers find your book?
Amazon for both print and Kindle versions
And on all other Amazon sites
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