Pubshelf has a new client named D.C.J. Wardle who wrote an interesting novel that is a humorous take on one man's ambition and the lengths he will go to to climb up the social ladder. I asked him to come by and share his thoughts on his novel "Trading Vincent Crow" as well as his process when it comes to writing. Before we jump into it, just a friendly reminder for all my Denmonites, on Friday is the cover reveal of Ashes to Ashes, the third novel in the Upstate NY Mafia Tale trilogy.
Now for the main attraction...
“Trading Vincent Crow” is the humorous journey of a young man, desperate to extract himself from the bottom of the heap as he tries to leapfrog his way up the ladder of success, continually trading his life for a new and better one. This means that he has to swap his entire life – the job, the pad, the threads, the girl, every three months to ensure that he is rapidly propelled forward to where he needs to be. His travels from obscurity toward his dream of being slightly less obscure force him to tackle new social challenges, to keep pushing himself upwards, and not to become comfortable with small gains. Of course, that all sounds like a water-tight plan, noble and worthwhile. In reality Vince ambles ill-equipped and with social ineptitude into new and unfamiliar situations where he becomes a bit-part actor in a variety of other peoples’ dramas and plans as they also play out their own selfish aspirations of personal betterment.
The book is written to be fun and entertaining. Of course humour is a very personal thing, so to qualify that statement, it’s primarily written to be fun and entertaining to me. Hopefully readers will also be able share in the enjoyment that I had through the process of writing it. The journey toward self-improvement enables numerous disparate and quirky characters to emerge in to the pathway of Vince, some of whom are sympathetic, some selfish, some are villains, but all provide texture and colour to the world that Vince must negotiate if he is to make something better of his life. The style of writing is quite episodic, and with every change of job or situation the plot is able to spiral in a new direction and maintain pace and interest. The many sub-chapters provide a fantastic space in which to work tangential sub-plots and off-beat observations. It was particularly entertaining as a writer to use this device to deviate from the plot momentarily and provide a vignette for an incidental character. This opportunity seemed to fit well within the style of the book and provided a wealth of openings for comic scenarios.
In comparison to my earlier creative writings, Trading Vincent Crow is something of a departure in terms of style and content. Over the years I’ve developed more confidence in my writing which has enabled me to write not only what I think is entertaining but also put it out there for public scrutiny. I actually started to really enjoy the process of creative writing about fourteen years ago. It was during my first overseas posting, and as a development worker I was posted to a small village in Cameroon, a lone volunteer managing the construction of a water supply project. The village was remote. There was no TV, telephone, or electricity. We did, however, boast a village chief who was the most powerful of all the witches in the region, and the villagers lived in fear of his dark magic. There were ceremonial rituals involving the village elders, a number of unfortunate goats, dancing around the drums in the firelight, and various adventures to different parts of the country. Consequently, for the first time in my life, I had a lot to write about, and began to really enjoy sending letters home about my adventures. I then decided to write a short story about the pop band that I had played in at college. I wrote it on scraps of paper, and found myself cutting out paragraphs from different pages and sticking them at the sides of others with duct-tape. The resulting collage of scribbling needed instructions to negotiate. After discovering the pleasures of this creative process I went on to write longer stories about my adventures in Cameroon and the subsequent places I’ve worked. This led me to get more involved in writing fiction, which has included writing a couple of novels, and a series of children’s books about the environment. My writing about my travels seems to have waned a little in recent years. I think that after so many years of moving between countries for work I am a little less fascinated by the experience compared to my earlier career. However, I’m never quite sure where I will find myself next, and so the prospect for inspiration is never far away.
At the moment, a big challenge is finding the time to write. However, I found that having a full time job actually suited the development of Trading Vincent Crow. This is because having a limitation on my writing time forces me to spend more time thinking about an idea, enjoying it, and letting it evolve and develop long before anything is written down. During my busy week there will be times when plots or situations are brewing away intensely in my head but I have no opportunity to express them. When I do get the chance to put down the narrative, I have scenes that have been rattling around inside and comic lines that I have been rehearsed in my head for so long that I’m ready to feverishly get the whole thing out of my system. This has been great for Vince in achieving the concise style I was aspiring to. It often results in writing where the sub-chapters are not only contributing to the bigger story but also becoming mini-stories in themselves. In taking such a long time to write a book, I feel that it is not rushed or forced, and is richer in its ideas and content as a result. I have very purposely avoided too much descriptive narrative or in-depth development of emotional nuances so that the story bounds onwards like an enthusiastic spaniel, and hopefully it’s not too long before the next wry smile is induced. Usually I will try to sit down each weekend for several hours and expunge the build-up of thoughts that are cluttering my imagination in to my laptop. I have applied the same approach to the sequel to Trading Vincent Crow which I am currently in the process of finalising.
Thanks for stopping by! Really appreciate the insight and I know several people who are already interested in snapping up your novel. Come back soon!