About The Author:
Peter Maughan, an ex-actor, fringe theatre director and script writer, is married and lives in the Welsh Marches, the borderland between England and Wales, and the backdrop to the Batch Magna novels. All the books in the series feature converted paddle steamers on Batch Magna’s river the Cluny, and he is a former houseboat dweller himself, living in the mid-1970s (the time frame for the novels) on a converted Thames sailing barge among a small colony of houseboats on the Medway, deep in rural Kent. An idyllic time, heedless days of freedom in that other world of the river which inspired the novels, set in a place called Batch Magna.
Please tell us about your current release.
It's a Kindle edition called The Cuckoos of Batch Magna. It's what might be described as a feelgood book, set in the mid-1970s in a river valley in the Welsh Marches, the borderland between England and Wales. The death of the squire of the village leads to the title and what's left of his estate being left through the ancient law of entailment to a distant relative. And so it is that Humphrey Strange, or Humph, as he likes to be called, an amiable short-order cook from the south Bronx, finds himself most remarkably to be the 9th baronet and squire of Batch Magna. Manipulated by his Uncle Frank, a small-time Wall Street broker with his eye on the big-time, and a new girlfriend with her eye on the title, Humph is persuaded he has plans for the old place: the entire estate is to be turned into a theme-park image of rural England - a vacation paradise for free-spending US millionaires. The tenants of the dilapidated houseboats on the estate's stretch of the river are given notice to quit - and it is then that Humph's problems begin. Each faction sees the other as the cuckoo in the family nest, so led by randy pulp-crime writer Phineas Cook and Lt-Commander James Cunningham DSO, DSC and Bar, Royal Navy (ret), a man with a glass eye for each day of the week, sporting details from paintings of naval battles and landscapes that speak of England, the motley crew run up the Union Jack and battle ensign and prepare to engage.
Q. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to writing?
Well, I started out as an actor, and worked as a fringe theatre director and as a script writer (scripts for pilot films for independent film companies). I had quite a few short stories and non-fiction writing on the English countryside published, and a novel seemed to be the next logical step. And I was helped by that background – actor, director, script writer, I am all of those when writing. I write the script, see the scene through the eye, as it were, of the camera, and then act it out on paper.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Getting down on the page – I write in longhand first – what I, the director, ‘see’. Somerset Maugham said that there were three rules when it came to writing a novel – the trouble is, that no one knows what they are. Well, as far as I am concerned, there is one rule that if not kept will leave your story on the page, when it should take on a second life in the imagination of your reader (because reading should also be creative). And it is this: you must ‘see’ the scenes you are writing – or, to put it more actively, you must ‘watch’ them happening, as they happen (particularly necessary I think for thrillers and crime novels, and noticeable when it’s absent).
Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I don’t think I have one. I’ve read about other writers arranging their pens or paper in a certain way before starting, and can only wonder at their evident neatness. I write in a blitz of paper, yesterday’s work waiting to be typed up, scraps of character details, bits of dialogue, notes on future scenes, etc.
Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
The Cuckoos of Batch Magna is the first in a series. I have two sequels finished and waiting their turn – and that particular hiatus is, in part, the reason I left my last publisher to go solo.
Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).
Interest (and so far it is only that) shown by a UK independent film company in the novels.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes: thank you. And to add that I have had quite a few references in reviews and other feedback to Batch Magna being a place people have enjoyed visiting and were reluctant to leave. I find that extremely satisfying, the thought that I have taken those readers out of themselves, given them, as feelgood books/films should, for that short while another world to live in. That, as a writer, will do me.
For more from this endearing author, please be sure to visit his website here.