Today we welcome Bill Todd as we travel to Brighton, on England’s south coast, to learn how being a journalist, travel writing, Solitaire, birdsong, Shakespeare, and Superman come together as part of Bill’s learning experiences and writer’s life. Pack your travel gear, let’s board this Bill Todd interview …
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in Brighton on England’s south coast and have a daughter and a magic grandson who celebrated his first birthday in June. I’ve been a journalist on local and national newspapers for most of my working life apart from brief bursts doing house removals, teaching and freelance photography. Travel writing has taken me to more than 40 countries and has been a fantastic learning experience.
In which genre do you write?
Mainly crime thrillers but I’ve also written three short military histories based on family papers.
How many published books do you have?
My Danny Lancaster crime thriller series about a wounded ex-soldier is currently seven titles with the latest, a novella called LAST ORDERS-Trapped in a pub with a killer, published in August. I have a full-length novel as a work-in-progress, possibly a standalone, and keep tinkering with a book based on my travelling experiences.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I don’t know when it began. I was making up stories in my head long before I started writing them down. My grandfather was an inspiration. He wrote stories for my brother and I about the country adventures of two cave boys. The pages are yellow and fragile now but I still treasure them.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I play a few games of Solitaire as fast as possible as a litmus of alertness before I start writing.
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
I find birdsong very calming and often take a keyboard break to listen so a bird with a good voice would be my choice.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
I used to spend long hours in a rather gloomy upstairs back room with a PC, keyboard and two big monitors. Now I’ve gone miniature and mobile with my Samsung S8 phone and trifold Bluetooth keyboard so my office is everywhere.
What are you currently reading?
I’m working on several other projects and tend not to read when writing in case I unconsciously soak up someone else’s ideas.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I enjoy walking, nothing too vigorous as I like to stand and stare at interesting things along the way.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Shakespeare, I’d love to know how he came up with all that cracking dialogue. I’m with Hamlet, words words words.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
Sleep is optional, up to a point.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
I try to be as accurate as possible without risking life and limb too much. One Danny Lancaster scene came from a travel writing trip. We were rocketing along a deserted African beach in a twin-engined aircraft. When I asked the pilot our altitude he said, ‘8 to 12 feet’. Crime thriller research can be very wide-ranging. My internet browser history would be a psychiatrist’s treasure trove.
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
I kept a very intimate diary as a teenager. Still have it, locked safely away. Over my travel writing career I’ve written a detailed account of people and places and have drawn on this in my novels for scenes set outside the UK including Florida, Africa, Berlin and Gibraltar.
What is the most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
Impossible to choose between the birth of daughter Zoe and the birth of grandson Theo.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What do you do to prepare yourself?
I’m not a natural speaker and struggle with public events. My usual technique is to stare, unseeing, at some distant point till someone calling my name snaps me back to the now.
What do you miss about being a kid?
Not sure I’ve matured enough yet to miss anything.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
Has to be Superman. I’ve always been fascinated by flying and super powers would avoid all that queuing.
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?
I rather fancy an ordinary day in Brighton as my lead character, Danny Lancaster. We’re similar in many ways but Danny lacks my insecurities.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
Bruce Willis in Tears Of The Sun. I have quite a few movies I watch regularly, often in the morning while I’m doing my digital paperwork and drinking coffee. They’re entertaining but don’t need my undivided attention as I know them so well.
A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?
He or she is recently returned from a vacation in a hot climate, has no food at home and would like to borrow from my well-stocked tinned fish cupboard.
Do you believe things happen for a reason?
Back to Shakespeare for this one. Hamlet: ‘There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will’.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
What’s your real name? Do you actually like that tinned stuff? Where are my socks?
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
Sticking at it regardless although some family members think it sometimes Borders on obsession.
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
South Shields at the mouth of the River Tyne in the north east of England. My father’s family came from there. The locals are known as Sanddancers and the fish and chips are the absolute best.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
Sossusvlei in Namibia’s Namib Desert, dawn as the rising sun turns the cloudless sky a brilliant blue and the giant sand dunes glow brilliant orange.
Thank you Bill for joining us on MTA. It was incredibly interesting to learn more about your history and writer’s life. –Camilla
Where to find Last Orders:
UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/32Qgtf7
US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Q9QihQ
Godlefe’s Cuckoo is Bill Todd’s sixth Danny Lancaster crime thriller. Here’s the
Danny Lancaster has been missing since the fishing boat exploded. Police are closing their inquiry but Wanda Lovejoy continues her campaign to find the truth. An evil man kept alive by machines nurses a corrosive hate. As drugs and disease pull his dying mind apart he throws his crime empire into a scorched earth quest to find one man. If Danny Lancaster isn’t dead he soon will be.
DANNY LANCASTER crime thrillers on Amazon:
THE WRECK OF THE MARGHERITA –https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007OVUG6Q
DEATH SQUAD – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0085V9HL4/
ROUGH DIAMOND – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DK7F6I6
ROCK HARD – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GXDU5DA
GARGOYLE PIXIE DOG – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B010T2CHK4
GODLEFE’S CUCKOO – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079Z7Z4MW
GUNNER, a soldier in WW2 Europe, 1944-45: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00LGSZQTU
A CROCUS FROM JERUSALEM, Fighting in Palestine, 1917:
PIGTAIL PILOT, a young woman who almost became the RAF’s first female pilot: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019H916OI
Connect with Bill:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/williamjtodd – @williamjtodd
Twitter: https://twitter.com/@DannyLancaster3 – @DannyLancaster3
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/billtodd_writer/ – @billtodd_writer
If it feels right and you have the time (and you enjoy the interview) please like or comment or share it. The nature of the online world … the more eyes that see it the more it will spread and benefit the author and the website! Thank you!
And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …