• Ebook and Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Picador (22 Mar. 2018)
• ISBN-10: 150982751X
• ISBN-13: 978-1509827510
I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Long Forgotten and my thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation. I have a copy of this gorgeous looking book to read, it’s edging its way up the review pile and fingers crossed I will get to it soon. In the meantime David Whitehouse has kindly agreed to answer a few questions for my turn on the tour.
Q & A
It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog David, would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?
Hello. My name is David. I trained as a journalist. Not serious, important journalism. I wasn’t cut out for that. I interviewed Arnold Schwarzenegger once. That was more my level. Ultimately though, I wasn’t a very good journalist and I have always been happier when making things up, so I first decided to try and write a novel about eleven or twelve years ago. Since then I have written three, and still don’t know how it’s done.
Without giving away too much information, can you please tell us a little about your latest novel, The Long Forgotten? Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
The Long Forgotten begins with the discovery of the black box flight recorder of a plane that went missing thirty years before, and when they do, a young man named Dove in present day London starts remembering things that didn’t happen to him. So, someone else’s memories. In this case, these memories belong to a rare flower hunter in 1980s New York, who might just be the key to Dove discovering the truth of his own identity, and what happened to the lost plane.
The idea is a collision of lots of things, but it began with me reading an article about a giant rare bloom called ‘The Death Flower’, which attracts flies to carry its pollen by smelling of rotten flesh. I thought to myself that this would be a great place to hide a body in a mystery, and in a very roundabout way, I worked backwards from there.
That sounds like a spoiler, but it isn’t.
How did you plan/research your books? Do you plot in detail or just see where the story takes you?
I wanted to meticulously plan the book before I wrote it, which I haven’t managed before, but I failed miserably. With me, plot is a case of putting one foot in front of the other until I either reach my destination or my foot falls off.
The story takes the characters to something like eight or nine countries I have never visited. I tried to imagine how it felt to visit them by reading as much as I could about them online. Cheaper than air travel and probably not as effective, but that’s the way it goes.
What is the best writing advice that you have received? And what advice would you give to anyone trying to get their novel published?
The best advice I’ve been given is that everyone thinks what they’ve written is rubbish, except people whose writing is rubbish. That’s the advice I’d give to people. That, and that you only have to do one thing, which is write. That’s all you can do. It’s a fight against yourself.
Is there anything that you wished you had done differently?
Yes. A decade later, I still dream about it and wake bereft.
Is there any part of the writing process which you enjoy (or find the most difficult) – i.e. researching, writing, editing?
I enjoy the feeling of being on form. It happens so rarely, but occasionally, very very occasionally, you find that over the past twenty, thirty minutes, you’ve written something that you know is as well written as anything you’ll ever manage. It might be a paragraph, a sentence, or just a phrase, but it works, it just feels perfect, and it makes all your other writing feel weaker by comparison. If you can maintain that level over the course of a novel, congratulations, you’ve written The Great Gatsby. It’s happened to me three times in my writing life. In my new book, it’s on page 96.
Are there any authors whose books have made an impact on you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?
So many authors make an impact on me. One I think about particularly regularly is Adam Johnson, whose book ‘The Orphan Master’s Son’ is incredible.
I’m currently reading ‘The Killing Of Butterfly Joe’ by Rhidian Brook and enjoying it immensely. But I’m a very slow reader, for all kinds of reasons.
Do you read your own reviews?
Yes. I love them. I’ve never read a review of mine that doesn’t have some truth in it, somewhere. My favourite ever was ‘Mr Whitehouse is not a writer’.
Is there anything that you wouldn’t write about?
No, but there are a billion things I can’t write about.
When you’re not working or writing, what do you do to relax?
I watch films, I drink wine. I’m normally thinking about work. I’m not sure I’m ever truly relaxed.
Finally, if you could only keep 3 books on your bookshelf, which ones would it be and why
Tough one, but I’ll keep ‘The Orphan Master’s Son’, which I mentioned earlier, because I think it’s a masterpiece. It’s set in North Korea, about which people know so little about, and yet the writer has given it flesh using just the scant facts at hand and his imagination. Also, I’m very interested in North Korea.
I’ll also keep ‘One Hundred Years Of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because I love it. It’s so dense with achievement and imagination. It’s my go to present to buy people.
Finally I’ll keep a VIZ annual, from the magazine’s early years. I got introduced to the puerile chuckle-rag Viz at too young an age, and still find it funny, no matter how many times I read it.
| About the Book |
When the black box flight recorder of a plane that went missing 30 years ago is found at the bottom of the sea, a young man named Dove begins to remember a past that isn’t his. The memories belong to a rare flower hunter in 1980s New York, whose search led him around the world and ended in tragedy.
Restless and lonely in present-day London, Dove is quickly consumed by the memories, which might just hold the key to the mystery of his own identity and what happened to the passengers on that doomed flight, The Long Forgotten.
The Long Forgotten is a thrilling mystery about memory and identity from David Whitehouse, the award-winning author of Bed and Mobile Library.
| Author Bio |
I have written three novels. The first, BED, was published in 2011 by Canongate in the UK and Scribner in the US. It won The Betty Trask Prize 2012. The movie rights were optioned by Duck Soup and Film 4.
The second, MOBILE LIBRARY, was published in January 2015 by Picador in the UK and Scribner in the US. It won the Jerwood Fiction Prize 2015 and the TV rights were optioned by Duck Soup and Channel 4.
The third, THE LONG FORGOTTEN, will be published by Picador in March 2018.
I currently have a number of TV projects in development.
I have written for lots of newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, Esquire, The Times, The Observer Magazine, Sunday Times Style and many more. I’ve won awards for journalism from The Times, The Evening Standard, the PPA and the PTC. I am the Editor-at-Large of ShortList magazine.