Describe your latest book.
What She Left
tells the story of a young woman who drowns on a night out with friends. An academic then pieces together the mystery surrounding her death through the paper and digital trail she left.
The original idea was inspired by a tweet. Someone in my timeline mentioned the piece of music they'd like played at their funeral, which got me wondering: How much can any of us really learn about anyone else from social media? That took me to the idea of reassembling, jigsaw puzzle-like, a suspense story from the "footprint" someone who was part of the Facebook generation might leave. Basically, I wanted to tell a modern story in a modern way.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Yes, I once visited the house in Wales where Dylan Thomas
lived. It's a beautiful place, built on the side of a hill overlooking an estuary — and the view from it inspired much of his poetry. Of course, he spent as much time in the bar of the nearby Brown Hotel as he did in that house.
What scares you the most as a writer?
Computer viruses. I'm totally irrational about having multiple copies of a manuscript. I save it on various computers and numerous memory sticks, and even email it to other people. I'm never entirely at ease, though, unless I've got an up-to-date printout. There's something about being able to actually hold a pile of paper that reassures me.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"Thus they talked, and ached, and wept till sleep charmed their sorrow away."
It's from Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles
and, like a lot of Hardy's work, is as much poetry as prose.
I can still clearly recall reading Tess
for the first time, even though it was well over 20 years ago. I'd got off a bus and was about 20 pages from the end. I just stood by the side of the road and carried on reading. I simply had to finish it.
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Traditionally, I'd have definitely said cats. I grew up surrounded by them and now have two lovely tabbies, Nutmeg and Parsley. But we've recently got a golden retriever, Dudley, and he's doing his best to change my mind. He's huge (think polar bear), has infinite reserves of energy, and eats furniture, but has a lovely personality.
As for budgies and turtles, I've never had either, but I fear they would be selfish and smelly creatures, incapable of displaying any emotional loyalty or reciprocating love (which, come to think of it, sounds like a lot of writers).
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
An afternoon nap. I get up at 5 a.m., as I have to do my writing before I start my day job, so on weekends and when I'm on vacation, I grab a sleep in the afternoon. It feels like a real treat — being in bed when the rest of the world is busy going about its business.
Why do you write?
Because it helps me make sense of the world. Because I'm a bit obsessive and I like to record stuff. Because I want to say: This is how I see the world — what do you think? All you're really doing when you write a book is starting a conversation. Once it's published, you hand it over to readers, and their views on your characters and stories are every bit as legitimate as yours.
How do you relax?
I binge-watch TV box sets. I ploughed through a stack of them while I was writing What She Left
, including The Wire
, Game of Thrones
, House of Cards
, and Madmen
. Watching one episode every night is a great way to end the day and clear my head before approaching my writing with a fresh perspective again the next morning. Of course, these shows are so compelling it's often impossible to limit yourself to just one episode.
Five books that, as an Englishman, made me love America:
I visited New York recently for my honeymoon, but when I was growing up and in my 20s, I had spells of reading far more American writers than British ones. I loved their bold, elegant, and at times deceptively simple style, and they opened my eyes to a country that I simply couldn't wait to visit.
by John Updike
The Secret History
by Donna Tartt
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories
by Raymond Carver
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T. R. Richmond
is an award-winning author and journalist living in London.