I’m wrapping up the week by chatting with David Melville Edwards from the UK about his new novel that he categorizes as contemporary fantasy, crime, humor. The title is The Spirit of the Age.
Welcome, David. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My day-job C.V. says I have spent the last thirty five years as an independent IT consultant working all over the world combining strategic vision with a mastery of detail. I have been married even longer, have four children, and following a recent house move swapped the last child for a demented parent.
Please tell us about your current release.
The Spirit of the Age takes a young Muslim woman from multi-cultural urban Hounslow, and transplants her into the Police and an arranged marriage in rural, tourist-y Dorset. The story follows her and her new neighbours over a year as she grapples with a crime wave and they meld into a community.
What inspired you to write this book?
Writing a novel was on my bucket list. I write software, technical documentation and consultancy reports every day, so I am always writing. Assignments for Penguin Random House may have caused the novel to crystallise, to the extent that I could see the whole thing in my minds eye. So one evening I thought, I can do this, and sat down to write it.
Excerpt from The Spirit of the Age:
The sun was long set so the vigil being kept by the bare trees round the village green had to be imagined by the time that Sireen, wearing a black T-shirt and grey yoga pants, got round to drawing the curtains in the front room. James had changed out of his business suit when he’d come home from work, and was now sitting on the sofa wearing a plain blue Polo shirt and worn jeans. Sireen joined him. They looked rumpled and comfortable as they opened their laptops together.
To get in to the right frame of mind to tackle Reverend Sheila's challenge, they browsed back issues of the BBC's weekly hymn-fest, ‘Songs Of Praise’ on the i-Player app before attempting to compose using Sequencer apps.
James adopted a systematic approach. This should be easy, he thought. Set sequencer to first instrument, 'Grand Piano'. First line, key note, six random notes, key note again; second line, key note, four more notes, dominant; third line, same as the first; fourth line, same as the second but with the key note replacing the final dominant, giving me any number of tunes with the eight/six/eight/six note pattern called 'Common Metre'. I could automate this.
In contrast, Sireen cycled through the different sounds the sequencer could make, fixed on the 'Glass Harmonica', and set off across the virtual keyboard heading who knew where, evoking echoes of a distant sea amidst the general Sixties Avant Garde vibe that naturally grows out of dual uncoordinated performances.
James tried dropping sequences from Sireen's improvisation into the variable elements of his pattern, but they seemed shorn of their power by the act of excision. Not one of James and Sireen’s ditties showed any promise of joining the blessed few Common Metre tunes that have real emotional impact. “Perhaps there's a reason why serialist hymn tunes haven't caught on”, said James.
What exciting story are you working on next?
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've always considered myself a writer. What is new for me is the idea that I might be a novelist. I'd have to complete more novels to be comfortable with that label.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do write almost full-time, but not fiction. Software comes first. I write fiction in the evenings. My approach is to proceed a chapter at a time, and to try to write the chapters in a single sitting.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
A tendency to use different meanings of the same word multiple times within a few lines. I usually edit them out, but I'd be interested to learn if anyone else finds that this happens.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An archaeologist. Well, a treasure hunter really. The dream faded when I realised that treasure-hunting wasn't supposed to be what it was about. However, I still hope to take up detectoring someday.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I'd be really, really happy if you bought my book!
Thanks for being here today, David!