This weeks Author of the Week is the charming Philip Yorke as he talks about life and his books, Rebellion and Redemption.
Hi Philip, welcome to your interview. Let's start with finding out a little about yourself.
Hi Elizabeth, I live in Leicestershire with my wife and children, from where I write historical fiction – and support the charities FareShare UK and the Trussell Trust, two organisations committed to the alleviation of food poverty in the UK. I still play quite a lot of sport – COVID-19 lockdown permitting – and I am a fan of the Leicester Tigers rugby team and Hull City AFC. Whenever I can, I try to watch both teams. In addition, my wife and I enjoy classical music concerts, the theatre and walking in the wonderful British countryside.
So tell us what got you into writing?
I have been writing professionally since I was in my early twenties. For many years I was a journalist working in the national press. This taught me the basics of writing (and a bit more) – and really helped with giving me an understanding of how you go about conducting research into complicated subjects. More recently, I have been turning my hand to writing historical fiction novels. And, to be honest, I am finding this quite similar to my journalism days, albeit I don’t have to undertake the painful task of interviewing unwilling and impatient members of the public, who are extremely aware about what they are saying.
I can imagine that you have many stories about the general public! What's the main thing you love and hate about writing?
Starting with the positive, I love being able to crack on with something that absorbs me, without having to worry too much about what someone thinks. I write for me, first and foremost. If other people like what I have created then that is a bonus.
Many say we write for ourselves, what is the worst villain you’ve ever written, and why?
Gustav Holck is the main villain in my first two novels. He is a Bohemian mercenary who learned his trade – the art of killing and assassination – during the bloody Thirty Years’ War on the battlefields of Europe. He is the consummate murderer. And he represents the kind of man who aligned themselves to the different factions that dominated the English Civil Wars. The likes of Holck – and there were many such many fighting in England in the 1640s – were mercenaries seeking profit and an enhanced reputation. The human cost of the conflict was immaterial to them.
He sounds spine chilling, what is next on your list to write/publish?
When I complete Redemption, the sequel to Rebellion, I will be moving on to the third book in the series of five novels I am penning. At the moment, the title of this novel is titled Regicide. It will tell the story of my main character as he helped Parliament execute King Charles the First.
You picked an interesting era to write about, who is your favourite author, and why?
It is a close-run thing between CJ Sansom and Charles Spencer. The former writes absorbing novels set in Sixteenth-Century England that grip you from the first to last page. Charles Spencer pens historical books full of wonderful fact and context, all brought together using the most wonderfully descriptive language. Both are leaders in their field and, therefore, I am unable to decide which one I like best!
I got to admit I find it hard to pinpoint an author, I have so many! Who encouraged you the most to write?
My future mother-in-law was the first person to offer me encouragement to pursue a writing career. I was just 20-years-old at the time, and it is some of the best advice I have ever received from anyone. I also have a friend in the United States who has prodded and poked me for years, trying to get me to write a book. Her name is Janique. And I am indebted to her for her persistence, for without her tenacity I doubt whether I would have ever started writing about the English Civil Wars.
Sounds like you have wonderful support behind you, are you as avid a reader as a writer?
I am – but I tend to stick to two-dimensional books: historical fiction and history! Other genres don’t interest me in the slightest. There is one exception: The Bible. I read this as much as I can also.
What’s your favourite genre?
There will be no surprises here, for it is historical fiction. I win on all fronts here, as I get a great bit of fiction intermingled with facts. As one of my former colleagues once said to me: “Your book writing is a bit like reading one of your old newspaper stories, quite often you don’t know where the facts end and the fiction begins!”
That is quite a compliment, do you listen to music when you write?
It all depends on who is in the house at the time. If I am on my own, I will often listen to my favourite band – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. I have been a fan for more than 40 years. If my wife is with me, it will always be classical music – particularly Beethoven, Bach, Handel and Vaughan Williams.
If you could interview any famous author who would it be and why?
I would probably want to interview the historical fiction writer, Robyn Young. She has enjoyed an unorthodox rise to the top of her game and it would be great to question her on her influences – as well as discovering how she creates her compelling, multi-dimensional plot lines.
I'll have to look her up, I'm not familiar with her, tell me a secret that none of your fans know!
I am ‘addicted’ to something called “Curd Cheese Cakes”. They are sweet pastries made in Yorkshire. And whenever I visit my hometown of Hull, I have to buy as many as I can get my hands on. Whatever the quantity, they are usually eaten within 48-72 hours.
Oh dear, they do sound wonderful, tell me what your main character would say about you!
As my writing is focussed on a man who actually lived in the Seventeenth Century, and there is a lot of documentary evidence covering his life and deeds, I would hope he would say I have been faithful to his character – and accurate while telling the story of his deeds.
That would be quite the compliment, finally, any words of advice?
Don’t let other people deviate you from your path. If they are negative about your work, don’t let them get you down. If they offered unbridled enthusiasm, don’t get distracted by the praise. Keep your feet on the ground at all times and, while you do, try and set yourself realistic targets (for example, I try to write a minimum of 10,000 words every week when I am in ‘story’ mode).
Thanks, Philip, for making time in your busy schedule to interview for us! If you want to find out more about Philip, please look for him at the following links:-
Author Website: www.philipyorke.org
Author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer. The opinions and views expressed in the article are the interviewees and may differ from the interviewer/general public. The works and images published here may be subject to the Authors copyright, please do not copy the images or claim them as your own.