Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Mighty Book 10am Tuesday 10 December 2013 Tom Vowler discusses his novel "What Lies Within"

Abigail Marlow meets Tom Vowler

Despite the familiar opening music (Hans Christian Lumbye's 'Champagne Galop'), this morning's show was not 'Classical Journey' but the monthly literature review option, 'The Mighty Book'.

While setting up, there was just time to hear a little ethereal music played by 'Music on the Edge'. Chris Caldwell and Susie Hodder-Williams played 'Mariners Way' from their album of the same name. Music on the Edge are based on the edge of Dartmoor, as the name suggests (at Throwleigh in fact). This morning's interview continued in the same vein.

Tom Vowler, who grew up in North Devon, lived for several years on the opposite edge of Dartmoor at Tavistock before moving to Plymouth. His daytime work is at the University where he teaches creative writing and develops his PhD thesis (on creative writing, and the rôle of the relationship between editors and authors in contemporary fiction).

Tom was formerly a journalist. In 2009 Tom was awarded an Arts Council grant to pursue his Masters dissertation on short story writing. His work involved writing several short stories for submission. He added several more stories and entered his collection into a competition run by Salt Modern Fiction publishing house. In 2010 Tom was awarded the prestigious 'Scott Prize' - which included the publication of his work: "The Method and Other Stories".

While continuing his work at the University, where he also edits the literary journal 'Short Fiction', Tom has been working on his first novel. Released by Headline Publishing in July this year, 'What Lies Within' follows two sets of characters in events set among the mysterious landscape of Dartmoor. Tom kindly read three very moving extracts from the novel, and discussed the story's construction and his creative process with 'Mighty Book' presenters Gill Hopkins and Abigail Marlow.

Tom had a lot to say about setting. (He recently presented a paper on the subject.) He also discussed the influence of the moor on the experience of writing. In particular, The Warren House Inn and its environs seem to have been a major inspiration. (The Warren House is the tenth highest altitude public house in England, by the way, and the highest in Southern England.)

Anyone wanting to enjoy a closer association with Tom's work can buy a copy at The Warren House and read it straight away (by the fire which has not gone out for 168 years). In the summer months copies are also on sale in the the nearby Powdermills Pottery (which also features in the novel).

There was also a competition during the programme. Anyone who emailed in to the studio with the answer to the question, "In which British national park is the Novel 'What Lies Within' set?" could claim a signed copy of the novel (the very copy that Tom was reading from during the programme). Incredibly, there were no correct answers before Tom left. Anyone who thinks they know the answer, email luch@phonic.fm.

As we discovered during the show, Tom has now completed his second novel - also with Headline Publishing. "That Dark Remembered Day" will be out on general release from 13 March 2014.

Many thanks to Gill and Abi for another great show - and special thanks to Tom Vowler for coming up from Plymouth for such an interesting and informative interview.

Click on the image above
of this autumn's 'Short Fiction'
to order a copy or back issues
Click on this image to read about
the author's creative method (see above)
on his blog 'oldenoughnovel'
(How to Write Another Novel)

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