Date Published: September 27, 2013
British ex-diplomat MICHAEL BLAKE has been blinded and is confined to his flat in Cairo. Every few days a visitor comes to read to him. It’s a year since he took early retirement and booked a long–awaited birding trip on the Nile.
Set against the background of the events of January 2011, BIRDS OF THE NILE is a powerful story of loss and self discovery as three disparate characters, each with their own agenda, seek to come to terms with change. Part political thriller, part love story, BIRDS OF THE NILE reminds us of the complex nature of global cultural interaction and how, as individuals, we try to deal with it
Q : Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A : Not so much a message, more an idea of a character. It’s actually a line in my biography that I’m not consciously seeking to make a point with my writing. My prime concern is to entertain the reader and through that engagement to give them an insight into a particular person. In BIRDS OF THE NILE, that person is Michael Blake. The entertainment comes from his story.
Q : Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
A : Yes, all of it! The whole process is hugely frustrating and I can spend months attempting to set something down on paper that expresses my original idea only to find that I haven’t quite succeeded in capturing what I wanted to say. Several redrafts later things have improved (I hope) but it’s still not perfect and in the end I have to settle for something slightly different. As da Vinci was supposed to have said ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned’.
Q : How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
A : The answer follows directly from the previous question. I’ve written five novels, four of which are still in my pending drawer and need more work. BIRDS OF THE NILE is the only one currently worthy of publication and therefore has to be my favorite. The rest need time - but I’m on with it.
Q : If you had the chance to cast your main character from
today, who would you pick and why? Hollywood
A : Without hesitation, I would choose Ralph Fiennes. Besides being a great actor, he’s so quintessentially English and can express that sense of reserve which is necessary in the role of Michael Blake. In fact, he’s so suited for the part I may even have written Blake with him in mind.
Q : When did you begin writing?
A : I first had a stab at it when I was about 21, but made a complete hash of it and gave it up for over 30 years. Having had a ‘normal’ life in betweentimes I started again in 2005.
Q : How long did it take to complete your first book?
A : Back to question 2 again. The first draft took 6 months – but I still haven’t finished it! As for BIRDS OF THE NILE, I began that in June 2010 but it spent some time in the pending drawer before I finally completed it in early 2013. Two years is probably the best answer.
Q : Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?
A : When I was younger, I read a lot of pre-war American authors eg. Fitzgerald, Faulkner etc. I found I was particularly motivated by Hemingway and my very first novel was a direct imitation. Fortunately, I can no longer find it. These days I’ve moved on and I very much admire the prose style of Richard Yates and his great classic,
Q : What is your favorite part of the writing process?
A : I don’t really enjoy any of it, it’s all intensely painful but it’s something I have to do. The most rewarding thing about it is when somebody you’ve never met has read your book and tells you how much they’ve enjoyed it. That’s when you know you’ve done something worthwhile.
Q : Describe your latest book in 4 words.
A : That’s easy.
Romance, Intrigue! Egypt
Q : Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?
A : Generally speaking, my objective is to bring my other novels up to the same (publishable) standard as BIRDS OF THE NILE. I’m currently working on a piece about a reformed alcoholic called Frank who lives at home with his mother. Or he did, until she went into a care home suffering form dementia … But that, as they say, is another story. Hopefully, I’ll get it into print some day soon.
Footnote : The ebook version of BIRDS OF THE NILE is currently on offer for £0.99p. Here are the links.
N.E.David is the pen name of York author Nick David. Nick tried his hand at writing at the age of 21 but like so many things in life, it did not work out first time round. Following the death of his father in 2005, he took it up again and has been successful in having a series of short novellas published both in print and online.
Nick maintains he has no personal or political message to convey but that his objective is merely to entertain the reader and he hopes this is reflected in his writing. Besides being a regular contributor to Literary Festivals and open mics in the North East Region, Nick is also a founder member of York Authors and co-presenter of Book Talk on BBC Radio York.
His debut novel, Birds of the Nile, is published by Roundfire.