What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I began writing as a schoolboy way back in 1980 or so which is when I decided upon the pen name Rupert de Cesaris. I have no idea why, or where this came from, but it’s important to me to use it now. I have lived in fantasyland for the better part of my life as a result of developing PTSD as a child and for me, writing was the perfect conduit as I could create my own worlds in which I had control: a blessed relief to the harsh reality of life where I had none.
My inspiration comes from all directions. I am endlessly daydreaming, coming up with names and ideas. The inspiration for Chilled Vengeance came from a news item whereby a man dressed as an Arab had gate-crashed Prince William’s 21st party at Windsor. Although this was an entirely harmless prank, it got me to thinking of more sinister motives!
My second novel In the Wake of Angels (working title) was inspired by an educational piece on satellites. It began life as a film script for a certain well known British spy but the filmmakers do not accept ‘unsolicited’ scripts, so it became a book instead and the better for it as writing in the style of someone else is never a good idea. It was cheesy, weak, distinctly feeble but the fundamental idea is both very sound and very plausible, which is a trademark of my writing.
Similarly, a TV script for Midsomer Murders is going to be a novel instead: why waste a good idea and loads of notes and dialogue?
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
That depends a lot on what state my mind is in PTSD-wise. Some days I find it very hard to get motivated and procrastination is my middle name. Once writing, I loathe being interrupted as I very much ‘get into the groove’ and I find the story writes itself – I’m merely the conduit for it to do so. To this end, I am frequently surprised when plot and sub-plots I had never thought of for the story suddenly appear spontaneously.
Fitting in with other commitments is a problem as it is for most writers. There are always jobs that need doing here and there, ancient mothers to take shopping, pubbing, visiting people etc. Although I have children, they are not a part of my life at present, so at least I’m spared that distraction. However, when I first began penning Chilled I was looking after three small children, one with Down’s and the other two twins. I literally had to scribble down ideas and dialogue on a very sporadic ad hoc basis which is not commensurate with my preferred style at all. Little wonder, then, that it took over 10 years in all to write!
I find periods of mundane and repetitive work, such as weeding, to be highly productive because I very quickly become bored, go into automatic pilot, and let my mind wander free…
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I write in whichever genre the story that’s demanding to be told falls into. Chilled is a crime thriller but also a political thriller; In the Wake of Angels is a spy thriller and I have another political thriller in the pipeline. I also research and write about PTSD and am working on an autobiography / self-help book which is much more academic. The truth, I enjoy various genres as they all bring their own challenges but fiction is clearly my favourite as I can legitimately allow my mind to run riot and invent what it may without being regarded as some kind of crazy person.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I am forever ‘inventing’ things being possessed of a very mechanical mind and at least two novels are based on non-existent technology I have dreamt up that one day might become real. Certainly, the scope for some damned good stories lies therein. Fiction is fantasy on a very loose rein and is just the greatest fun to write – why wouldn’t anyone enjoy it? I also thoroughly enjoy the research that goes into any half-decent novel because it is so educational and lends considerable verisimilitude to your work. It also allows you to get to know some extraordinarily interesting people, most of whom are only too happy to help you out.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
Current project is a spy thriller that is approximately half written at around 60,000 words. Clearly, I do not want to give too much away but it involves satellites. The action takes place in the UK, Japan and Australia, so we get around a bit but, needless to say, this is seldom a straight forward business and there are some phenomenal stunts involved.
My autobiography / self-help book is also part written but this includes a large amount of academic content explaining PTSD in terms of biological, neurological and cognitive factors – i.e. the ‘biomechanics’ of this vastly complex affliction. When I realised I had PTSD, I needed to understand why and how it had affected me and so began a long journey of discovery that was to contribute much to my eventual recovery. I believe this insight might help others to likewise recover from this profoundly debilitating acquired illness. In any event, I have to try.
What are your writing plans for the future?
Finish all the novels bumbling around in my head – doubtless many more will float into my conscious from the deep, dark and probably quite terrifying recesses of what passes for a mind in my case.
I’m also working with other PTSD campaigners on raising awareness.
Writing a PhD dissertation if I’m really lucky….
Where can people find out more about you?