12 Sep 2015

Interview with author Francis H Powell

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
My book is a book of 22 quirky short stories, which usually have a dramatic twist at the end. There are some despicable characters, loads of odd balls and freaks. They are not horror stories as such, but are rather dark none the less, but with elements of wit. They are rather “British” in character and there is the odd bit of social commentary. The stories always start in a dramatic fashion… “Bug-eyes was due a life of toil” ( a story about an unfortunate being with disproportionate eyes) “There it was. I was to be banished from Hell.” (a story about a man expelled from Hell for being too “good” who comes back in the body of a woman, who comes out of a coma. “Captain Spender’s wife was ovulating” (a story about a woman desperate to have a baby, in an army barracks surrounded by men, but with a constantly absent husband.

What inspired you to write it?
My book of short stories are to some extent indirectly autobiographical, my life has not been a smooth journey, with many setbacks along the way. I don’t think I consciously draw a line between real events and the fiction I write. I doubtlessly draw from my experiences, good or bad.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

The cover had to correspond with the title “Flight of Destiny” so an angel seemed to tie in. I wanted to convey the idea of decay, so I wanted to add ivy. There are other symbolic images that link up to different stories in the book.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
A younger Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Tilda Swinton, and Christina Ricci, any kind of actor who would be good as an oddball or freak.

Is it part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
Hopefully there will be a follow up.

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
Being a book of short stories, it is set in different places and in different time periods. A lot of the stories are set in Britain, (I am British) some are set in America. Paris appears in one story (I live in France, close to Paris)

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I really like writing short stories, it is a format that works well for me and I like mouldig the story so it has a dramatic unexpected ending.

What made you want to become an author?
It has always been in the back of my mind. I have done many creative activities, music, film and painting, but I have always been good at expressing myself with words.

How do you come up with character names?
Character names are very important…sometimes they determine what story is about (for example “Bugeyes” or “Maggot”. Sometimes I don’t give characters proper names, they have names that are like nicknames, like in cartoons, for example in my story slashed, one of the leading characters (a master painter) is known simply as Excellency.

Do you struggle to come up with book titles? Do they come before, during or after you've written your book?
Being a short story writer, I am constantly thinking about titles for my stories…some come easily, before the story is completed, others I have to think about a lot, sometimes changing them until I have the perfect title.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?
Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl.

Who, or what, inspires you?

Good films I find very inspiring. Films that stay in your head, a long time after you have seen them.

Where is your favourite place to write?
Anywhere where I am not disturbed.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
One Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest

Name two of your favourite authors.
Rupert Thompson and Roald Dahl

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I helped a little boy down, who had got stuck in a tree (today)

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
A rejuvenated Jack Nicholson (some people say I look like him).

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.

There is a traditional red British telephone box (why I have no idea)

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
A follow up to Flight of Destiny would be great…

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
I would like to go to India, perhaps on a long train journey throughout the country.

Favourite myth / fairytale?
Jack and the Giant killer

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?
It kept changing…I went through a phase of wanting to join the army (now I am a pacifist) I wanted to be a football player and play for Chelsea (now a forlorn hope…except for a team of pensioners…I wanted to be a pop star…

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