D. C. J. Wardle holds post graduate qualifications in development management as well as community water supply engineering. Over the past twelve years he has worked extensively in developing countries in Africa and Asia, managing emergency and development programmes.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started taking creative writing seriously 14 years ago whilst living in a small village in Cameroon. It was my first overseas posting and I was a lone volunteer managing the construction of a water supply project. The village was remote. There was no TV, telephone, or electricity. We did, however, boast a village chief who was the most powerful of all the witches in the region, and the villagers lived in fear of his dark magic. There were ceremonial rituals involving the village elders, a number of unfortunate goats, dancing around the drums in the firelight, and various adventures to different parts of the country. Consequently, for the first time in my life, I had a lot to write about, and began to really enjoy sending letters home about my adventures. I then decided to write a short story about the pop band that I had played in at college. I wrote it on scraps of paper, and found myself cutting out paragraphs from different pages and sticking them at the sides of others with duct-tape. The resulting collage of scribbling needed instructions to negotiate. After discovering the pleasures of this creative process I went on to write longer stories about my adventures in Cameroon and the subsequent places I’ve worked.
What inspires you to write and why?
I write books largely for my own entertainment. My working life has varied from management in both emergency and development programmes, which are often very intense, but can also have periods in remote rural areas with absolutely nothing at all to do in the evenings. It is during the later that I tend to let my imagination escape for a while and immerse in a bit of writing.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I’ve really enjoyed writing the humour for “Trading Vincent Crow”. I get a lot of ideas over time for funny moments, parts of scenes, or snippets of dialogue, and it’s great to eventually sit down and work them into something a bit more tangible.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
My travels and work abroad have inspired me, as have the people I’ve met and worked with along the way. Also, because I’ve generally delved into whatever books previous travelers have abandoned to lighten the load of their backpacks, I’ve enjoyed the chance to experience a range of authors I wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. Some of my favourite books are from the Jeeves and Wooster series by P.G.Wodehouse. I also enjoyed some of Gerald Durrell’s books as he has a pleasant way of being entertained by peoples’ (and animals’) eccentricities without judging them.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
My big challenge at the moment is finding the time to write. I currently have a very hectic day job and so if I’m lucky I might find one morning at the weekend to sit down and work on a book. However, I see this as a positive thing as it means I am not under pressure each day to sit down, stare at my laptop and overcome writer’s block. Often ideas will come to me during the course of the week, and at the weekend I may find time to get down a few paragraphs that I’m most eager not to forget or I think will make a strong contribution. Often this produces fairly concise, self-contained but multi-faceted elements to the story which I feel help to make it more of a page-turner. However, this approach does mean it takes me a long time to finish writing a book.
Do you intend to make writing a career?
I intend to continue to write. However, I think that a lot of my inspiration for character interaction and sub-plots comes from the variety of work situations and travel that comes my way. Also, my motivation comes at times from a frustration of not having sufficient time to write, and frantically getting ideas down. I worry that by taking that away I would be less inspired and so for now I am happy with the current balance between my day-job and writing.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
“Trading Vincent Crow” does have a certain design to it, in that has a lot of short chapters, often jumping between scenes, characters, and sub-plots which helps it develop momentum and interest as the pages turn.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
"He’s not in today. ……he’s dead!” is a favourite line I often quote from my nan who was doing her best to assist a door-to-door sales women who had just left, and was trying her luck at the next house along the terrace.