Today I’m delighted to welcome Mark Daydy to Me, My Books and I.
I was born in London, England and have a great passion for the incredible history of my home city. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to get the job of writing the audio commentary for a major London tourist bus operator’s network, which tells visitors stories about the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and 300 other points of interest.
But back to my main job! Over the past 20 years, I’ve written extensively for radio and television (for both children and adults). This year, my sitcom series The Best Laid Plans ran on BBC Radio Four in the UK. I’m now developing a TV sitcom which has been optioned by NBC-Universal.
While I have an agent for my media work, I’m just getting started as an author. I have around six books planned and have enjoyed getting the process up and running with The Girl Who Lived By The River. To me, it feels like a great time to be an indie author and I’ve enjoyed the past week setting up my first website and Facebook author page. I’ve also joined Twitter, which I guess brings me up to date (unless the world has moved on again).
To find out more:
Where did the idea for The Girl Who Lived By The River come from?
A few years ago, my work took me to Canary Wharf in London. It’s an amazing place, like a smaller-scale Manhattan, but I knew the area before the office blocks went up. Looking out over the water, I had this really powerful urge to tell how a previous generation lived, loved and laughed despite the dying days of the old docks. I just knew there was a feel-good story with lots of humour and a few tears as well waiting to be told. I think it’s the great challenge for a comedy writer like myself – to move beyond the confines of sitcom and embrace the emotional depth that novel-writing offers.
Why did you start writing?
When I was twelve, our English teacher made us write a novella. Like most of the class, I thought it would be a chore, but much to my surprise I loved the whole process. I won 2nd prize with Trapped On Mars, but much more importantly, I was bitten by the bug.
Who was your favourite character to write and why?
Tom, the main character. His search for certainty in his life could have carried a dozen stories. Having him fall in love, make embarrassing mistakes and struggle with the business of growing up was a joy to write.
Why did you decide to break the story up into four parts?
Each part takes place in a different year, so there’s a slight change in tone as Tom grapples with growing up. It could also be my TV and radio background as these would be the natural breaks in a four-part comedy-drama.
Is any part of The Girl Who Lived By The River based on your own personal experiences?
Only the embarrassing parts. No, I’m kidding. I think it was more about the possibilities offered by the character, time and place, rather than specific things I did at Tom’s age. That said, like Tom, I did play guitar quite badly.
What makes your novel stand out from the crowd?
The Girl Who Lived By The River is a story with a big heart, lots of humour and an authentic setting. I think, sometimes, comedy writers under-develop the emotional side of a story and don’t always offer a setting that goes beyond the one-dimensional. My story takes place around the time London’s docks were closing – a great collision of past, present and hopes for the future. What better place to set a heartfelt comedy about friends, family and first love?
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
You mean there are other things I could do? But seriously – I do love to read, listen to music, walk, relax with family, occasionally see friends or do a spot of gardening.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve ever met?
I’m always meeting interesting people and everyone has a story to tell. I don’t think anyone can be interesting 24/7 though and I know a few well-known actors who love to switch off and become uninteresting so that they can do ordinary things for a while. Before I started to earn a living as a professional writer, I worked as a cab driver. I once picked up Benny Hill and enjoyed the most interesting half-hour of stories about his younger days in the army, driving his inconsiderate commanding officer around and so on. At the time I met him, a year before his death, Benny was known all around the world, and yet he was happy to share stories with me that hardly anyone knew. Oh, and we had to stop so he could buy some milk.
Paperback or eBook?
I’ve always had hundreds of books in the house. However, about a year ago I got a Kindle. I already have over fifty e-books on it, which suggests there might be a revolution in progress.
Dogs or cats?
Impossible to choose. I’ve had both as pets (at the same time, too) and there are infinite plusses on both sides. If anyone has small children, I’d recommend a couple of guinea pigs as pets. They are fab.
Any last words for your readers?
Why not take the journey with me. Parts 2, 3 and 4 will be available very soon and I’ll be publishing more books in the near future. I’ve just launched my own website and if you sign up for the newsletter (your email address only), you’ll get news of my books, my thoughts on writing, and behind-the-scenes news from my adventures in TV and radio. Currently, I have a sitcom that has been optioned by NBC-Universal, so why not join me to see how that plays out?
Thank you so much for answering my questions Mark, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about your cab journey with Benny Hill!
Now check out the book:
“A hilarious, heart-warming tale of first love
If you’ve ever experienced the joys and agonies of growing up (well, who hasn’t!) – then travel back to 1975 and meet Tom Alder whose life would be just perfect if only he had a girlfriend, some guitar skills and a family without quite so many skeletons in the closet.
The Girl Who Lived By The River is a laugh-out-loud tale of life, love and growing up told in four parts, from 1975 to 1978. This is Part One: 1975.”