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Author David Impey stops by today for a natter about his soon to be released book, The October Men.
Otto Parsons, a brilliant Oxford physicist, is missing. His early experiments on zero gravity machines have produced unimaginable results. His professor, Dan Sibley, has to secure funding for their work or close the project down. A wealthy organisation has made him an offer to secure the project’s future. Only now, it seems his backers may have an altogether more sinister agenda. Wheels are in motion that cannot be stopped. What is it that connects their work with the assassination of JFK, the Roswell Incident, the Wall Street Crash and a mysterious cache of priceless art? And who are the shadowy partners of the October Foundation? The answers will threaten the safety of everyone on the planet.
The October Men is the stunning debut from David Impey, full of twists and turns that will keep you gripped. If you like well-crafted thrillers by John le Carré and Colin Dexter or thought-provoking science fiction by John Wyndham, then The October Men is the novel you must read.
| Author Interview |
What book truly inspired your life and why?
I can’t say that any one book inspired my life as such. But I can say that the book that made the biggest impression on me as a teenager was ‘The Onion Eaters’ by JP Donleavy which was the most unhinged and rib-crackingly funny book I had ever read. It was also probably the rudest (and still is). I especially loved the way the author threw away all the conventions of sentence construction – and tense come to that – in order for the prose to read with precisely the cadence he wanted you to hear in your head.
It’s a brilliant book but not for the prude-of-heart.
How did you pick who you dedicated your book too?
I married her first.
Did you do a lot of research for your book?
Yes. Actually, I didn’t think it was that much but I was told by the publisher that it was a lot more than ‘normal’. I should say that I have a fairly comprehensive scientific background (not that I’m trying to be in any way worthy or precious about it). But the ingrained habit is not to make a claim without some third-party reference to back it up. Since ‘The October Men’ is driven by a lot of historical vignettes – the assassination of JFK, the Roswell Incident, the Wall Street Crash, etc. – as well as some quantum physics, it was essential to get the facts right.
As it happened, more often than not, doing the research threw up details which actually enhanced the story (the railman’s evidence at the Warren Commission about the two mystery figures beneath the triple overpass was a key element). Besides, doing the research was a lot of fun.
Being true to my roots, I have included all the references on the website so you can look them up yourself.
What was your favourite read of 2017?
‘The Teleportation Accident’ by Ned Beauman. It is set in 1930s Berlin and gives an account of the intoxicating hedonism of the age from the perspective of someone who is socially inept and consequently unable to join in. It was absolutely hilarious and there were a couple of points when I was laughing so hard by the hotel pool I was worried they were going to call an ambulance for me. And that made me laugh even harder.
Excellent book but should come with a strong cocktail and a health warning.
If you had to take three books on a desert island what would they be?
- ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins. The original 1860s whodunnit with a whopping great plot twist that no one since has dared to emulate.
- ‘One Night on Twisted River’ by John Irving. Another of his paeons to New England filled with wonderful characters that you are sorry to see go when you reach the end of the book
- ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer’s Morning’ by Laurie Lee. A young man’s journey across Spain as the Civil War of the 1930s gathers pace and sweeps him up. Beautifully written.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?
I’m afraid it was a bit tortuous. I tried a number of publishers and agents. One publisher spent 6 months reviewing the manuscript before rejecting it with the nicest rejection letter I’ve ever seen. Another one spent a whole year before sending me a template e-mail (since they are based in the same town as myself, I still miffed about that!). The larger publishers all have forms you can fill in but you never hear from them again and there’s no one to call to ask if they’ve got the manuscript. By and large, they really only want to see stuff that comes from one of their preferred agents.
As for the agents, the ones I approached all seemed more interested in trying to promote something that resembled the last thing they managed to place.
In hindsight, I was trying to pitch a non-linear story with no protagonist and which set out deliberately to challenge the traditional novel structure. As a first-timer, perhaps I was being ambitious. But, then again, I didn’t want to be derivative. So sue me!
Finally, I was directed by various friends and contacts to use a self-publishing company (I AM Self-Publishing) who, in turn, introduced me to Helen at Literally PR. She has since approached me to act as my literary agent which I have been extremely pleased to accept. We are now working on pitching the follow-up novel. (Yes, there is one…)
Can you share with us a photo that tells a story?
This is Old Havana and one of the many 1950s American sedans that still ply the roads, nearly sixty years after Castro seized power from the corrupt, CIA- and Mafia-bankrolled Batista regime. This car is emblematic of Cuba since 1959.
One the one hand, it says ‘Hasta la victoria siempre’ (Che Guevara’s battle cry which is emblazoned on the wall of a government building next to a rendition of the famous Korda portrait that adorned many a student bedroom wall in the 1970s). It is a statement of the fledgling state’s intention to survive and thrive without recourse to the US and to build a society on its own terms. And with the support of its own friends…
On the other hand, it is emblematic of the stasis into which the country fell once the initial revolutionary fervour fuelled by the USSR subsided following the missile crisis. Cuba has been held in a state of suspended animation ever since, although this has started to relax over the last few years. Nonetheless, the impression I got on visiting the country 10 years ago was a place that had drifted into a torpor as its then-ailing leader (Fidel Castro) handed over the reins of power to his brother Raul but still desperately clung to the rhetorical wreckage of a time many in that country were too young to have experienced.
So the regime created a theme park of a country, a fifty-year-old time capsule one could visit and take cool photos to show your friends back home (unless you were from the US, in which case you had to furtively travel there via Canada). But the reason this theme park was there at all was thanks to the grip of a regime that would not let go for fear of betraying its half-century-old principles.
As one more sanguine Habanera said to me: ‘Havana – a city of two million people. And one million police.’
What would you like your readers to know before starting your book?
A lot of research has gone into this. But it is a fiction and is supposed to be an entertainment. There is an underlying message about the need for scientists and academic journals to be more considerate of the wider societal impact of publishing research. But, that’s my hang-up and I hope it merely informs the story rather than gets in the way of it.
Do you have any questions that you would like to ask your readers?
If you could go back to any time in the last 150 years, where would you choose? (One rule: you can look, but you can’t bring anything back with you.)
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