Fellow Crooked Cat writer Nik Morton is coming to visit today. The Bingerbread Cottage welcomes folks from all over (yes, I perfected the shuffle-a-tron machine some time ago).
Ouch, hit my head on the lintel! I’m short, but all my characters are taller than me, so I walk tall. My fault, I’ll fix the bit of wood later.
Don’t worry about it, the Bingergread Cottage is over 300 years old so it was built for dwarves! So, Nik, welcome to the Cottage and what can we get you? Cameron has been baking for days so there are goodies, pick your liquid poison.
Thanks, Ailsa (rubbing head with a poultice of rum and brown paper). Good to be here. I’ll forego the poison and have a red Rioja, cheers. I know, sacrilege in France, but it’s one of my preferred tipples. The baked buns smell delightful.
Not at all – we love Spanish red and Cam – stop sniggering, he didn’t mean those buns! Nik has a salt-water past like me. Do you think it was that experience which gave you the wander-lust?
I don’t rightly know, Ailsa. I recall always wanting to join the Royal Navy. My uncle was in the Merchant Navy and was awarded the croix de guerre in WWII. My two cousins joined the RN. It seemed like a natural progression, ‘to see the world’. I saw a lot of the sea too.
When younger, I’d borrow books from the library and always wanted to travel to the places in the books and even dreamed of writing novels set in those places, as Dennis Wheatley tended to do. My blog reminiscences about some of the places I’ve visited.
First let’s chat about living abroad. Tell me about where you live, why you chose it, how long you’ve been there and what you love about it.
I live in the Costa Blanca – ‘the white shores’ beloved of Tolkein in The Return of the King. We’ve been here ten years. My wife Jennifer speaks fluent Spanish (and French), which helps. We were drawn by the pace of life, the sun, the history and scenery and, at the time, the lower prices.
As there’s a sizeable ex-pat British contingent in the area, there’s very little we can’t get in that regard – within walking distance we have three Indian restaurants, two Chinese, a Patagonian steakhouse, an excellent chippie, and of course a tapas bar and plenty of Spanish restaurants too. Mail order supplies books and DVDs, as we don’t have any English book/video shops. A local Iceland franchise supplies PG Tips, English mustard etc. So, if we ever hanker after any familiar staples, we can indulge ourselves.
Oh I am dying of envy!
Talking about all that food has made me a little peckish, may I have another biscuit? Thanks (crunch). I used to dunk biscuits in tea or coffee (but never wine); now I only half-dunk, bearing in mind what Mary Berry said about the baker going to all that trouble to make the biscuits crunchy.
Now as a writer, do you ever get to attend conferences, do book signings etc in the UK? Would you like to?
We’ve never managed to get really cheap flights to UK, though I know they exist. Yes, I’ve done book signings here in Spain, and given writing talks here and in UK. Writing conferences are useful for networking but I haven’t been to one for a long time. I’m now usually too busy writing so have little time to devote days to talking about it.
How about where you live? Is there a large enough British community to have bookshops that stock works in English?
We can get books in English in the Spanish bookshops, but the choice is limited, often only the best-seller big names.
Do you think you will ever leave there? I know some of your work was inspired by your current home but is there anywhere else you would like to go, or maybe even return to the UK?
As Sean Connery said, Never Say Never Again. We don’t envisage returning to a permanent home in the UK. The weather puts us off, as do the politics (enough said!) I’ve travelled a lot, though there are still foreign places we’d both like to visit, funds permitting. Still waiting for that film deal, you know?
I’ve written about a number of places I’ve been to over the years, not only Spain; I definitely get inspired when travelling. It not only broadens the mind, it enhances plotting!
Final question. We are both ex-pats although I’m now officially French (despite the lousy accent) but is there anything that really gets on your nerves about that status? Is it all balanced out by the advantages?
I hardly give it a thought. We’ve got Spanish driving licences, but remain British citizens. I suppose we get annoyed with the UK government viewing ex-pats with a jaundiced eye, neglecting to realise that so many of us are still British taxpayers and pay their wages. (NODS VIGOROUSLY)
The move here was the best thing we did (apart from having our daughter!) and seemed to set our creative juices flowing. I strove for a few decades, trying to get a book published; then in 2007 I managed it and now have 21 under my belt (albeit some of them now out-of-print); while Jennifer has been the MD of a ladies’ choir and sings solos – when she’s not writing a novel.
Out on 31 July, The Magnificent Mendozas, sixth western from Robert Hale.
It has been fascinating, Nik. Thanks so much. On the whole I agree with you but I would love a British corner shop in the village. Yes, of course, I’m settled here. I love going back for visits, especially to London, but go back for good? I doubt it.
Now, of course the most important – how to find out more about Nik and his works.
Website – www.freewebs.com/nikmorton
Twitter – @nik_morton
Blog – http://nik-writealot.blogspot.com
Facebook – email@example.com
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/Nikmorton
Read SPANISH EYE by Nik Morton:
Read BLOOD OF THE DRAGON TREES by Nik Morton: