Steven Elvy Interview

STEVEN ELVY grew up in Barnet, North London. His first job was with Ogilvy, Benson & Mather advertising agency, where he worked in the film and television department as a film librarian, a job he says he only got because he bored the personnel man with a twenty minute monologue about the plot and characterisation in Ice Cold in Alex.

What inspired you to write?
I was a slow starter. I didn't even read confidently until I was about seven. Then I discovered Paddington Bear and from then on I couldn't get enough of books, and I've been an avid reader ever since. My early attempts at short story writing showed me I could create my own world to lose myself in. I wrote my first novel when I was fourteen - a turgid spy story.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
I've always wanted to write and publish a novel, but in common with many others I always found a reason why I couldn't - pressure of work, family commitments, and so on. Then my ex-wife gave me some notes she had made for a short story she wanted my views on. I spotted the main character was autobiographical and started writing my first collaboration 'Because of Ruby'.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
I'm working on the third book, now, the second in my 'Simon Trevanion Mystery' series, and using the same method I've used before, which is to write a precis of the whole story, then write two or three paragraphs for each chapter. I then use this as a template to guide me as I write the full book. It never turns out as I'd planned it, but I find it easier to at least have plan to deviate from than no plan at all.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
Very much so. Not only from friends and family who kindly read exerts of my writing as I went along (and stopped the worst of my spelling mistakes and grammar gaffs!) but also because I published some parts of the book on Facebook so I also got feedback in that way - mostly good.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
Finding the inspiration to just keep typing away each day and stopping myself from worrying too much if the words emerging were good or bad or just plain gobbledegook.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
When the words write themselves. Sometimes, when a particular passage or piece of dialogue goes well, I lose myself and become totally immersed.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
I felt pleased and relieved in equal measure. Then, after a while, astonishment set in that the book wasn't selling in the millions (where were all the readers?). Then, later, a trepidation that I might not have it in me to ever write another.

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Lack of confidence, usually. Sometimes I think 'Why would anyone be interested?'

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
Accept it and don't go looking for praise because that way lies madness.It can be difficult to differentiate between constructive criticism and simply another person's opinion. We all have our likes and dislikes.

Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up in North London. Worst childhood memory: going to school; I didn't mind it the first couple of days, but then I found out that it was for EVERY day for years and years and years.

Do you have a favorite quote?
'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.'

What is your favorite show on TV?
Line of Duty.

Favorite movie?
Ben Hur.

Favorite book?
To Kill a Mockingbird.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
Marilyn Monroe.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
To play a musical instrument.