I’m delighted to welcome Tim back as he is an old mate and colleague of mine and no stranger to this blog.
Hello, Ailsa! It’s great to visit the Bingergread Cottage once again. Thank you for inviting me along to talk about my novel, Revolution Day, published this year by Crooked Cat and currently on special offer for Christmas at 99p/$0.99.
How did this one spring into being?
I was inspired to write the novel by the events of the Arab Spring, when a string of dictators who had seemed unassailable – Gaddafi and Mubarak, for example – fell from power one after the other. It was not so much the specifics of those events that interested me, but the wider lessons they teach us about the corrupting effects of power and its ultimate fragility. So the novel did not have to be set in the middle east. I decided instead to place it in Latin America, with its long history of dictators.
Come on, Tim. Give us a taste. I know my readers are dying to hear about it. We know the special offer price now, tell us what we get for that very reasonable sum.
My dictator, Carlos, has been in power for thirty-seven years and is now in his seventies. He is feeling his age and seeing enemies around every corner. Yet he clings tenaciously to power, not for its own sake, but because he has come to believe that he alone can be trusted with the stewardship of the nation. He derives support from his secretary Felipe, who is trying to get him to show a more human face to the world through a video blog; and solace from his young mistress Corazon, who unbeknownst to Carlos maintains a discreet social life of her own.
Carlos’s estranged wife Juanita, who has been under house arrest for sixeen years, is writing a memoir of his regime and their marriage, excerpts from which are interleaved with the main narrative. It recalls the revolution that brought him to power and how, once an idealist, he came to embrace autocracy and repression, precipitating the catastrophic breakdown of their personal and political relationship.
Meanwhile, Manuel, Carlos’s efficient and ambitious Vice President, is frustrated with his subordinate position. When his attempts to augment his role are met with humiliating rejection, he resolves to take action. Lacking a military power base, he must make his move not by force but through intrigue, manipulating the perceptions of Carlos and others to drive a wedge between him and the Army.
As Manuel begins to pull the strings, Juanita and Corazon will find themselves unwitting participants in his plans….
Here is an extract – an episode from early in Carlos’s rule (recalled by Juanita), which gives us some insight into the reasons for his paranoia …
Outside, there was a long line of shiny black cars with flags on them. Mostly they were Mercedes, but there were a couple of Rolls-Royces at the front. These were favourites of the old President, but used by us only a couple of times for events like this one. We walked down the steps, sharing inconsequential conversation with the ambassador and his wife, and a protocol officer beckoned us towards the first Rolls-Royce. Carlos shook his head, and turned to the ambassador.
“You are our honoured friends and guests today; it is only right that you should have pride of place.”
So the ambassador, his wife, and the Russian general who was the boss of the advisers went in the first car, and Carlos, Angel and I in the second. Of the preceding conversations my only memory is of thinking that the ambassador’s wife was badly dressed and had nothing of interest to say. But my mind has preserved every detail of what happened next. I remember slumping in the seat, relieved that I did not have to make chit chat for a while. I remember looking at the red leather seats of the car and noticing that they were slightly faded. I remember putting my head back to relax and becoming aware that there were hundreds of faces peering at me from the side of the road. I remember starting to wave at them, having realised that I still had to put on some kind of an act, and feeling at once irritated, amused and flattered. I remember thinking how ponderous the convoy’s progress was, and wondering whether I would have to keep waving all the way. I remember hearing an untidy rattle of sharp bangs, and watching the people stop waving and turn their heads. I remember turning my own head, then seeing a man pointing a long tube at the car in front of us. I remember a bright flash (oddly, I don’t recall hearing a bang), and pieces of bodywork leaping into the air like scraps of paper caught by the wind. And I remember being thrown into the seat in front and onto the floor, as our driver stamped first upon the brake and then the accelerator and threw the Rolls-Royce into a violent turn. I have no memory of screaming, though people tell me I was hysterical. Then it is all a blank, until we have arrived somehow at the palace, and I am sitting in a leather armchair and people are comforting me and offering me things to drink. I remember thinking that the leather was the same colour as in the Rolls-Royce.
If your readers are intrigued, they can find more information and excerpts on the Revolution Day page on my website: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!revday/cwpf.
Many thanks once again for hosting me, Ailsa – it’s always a pleasure to drop in! And you know you are always welcome, dear friend. Here, take a package of Cameron’s home-baked goodies to keep you going on the flight home.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/timtaylornovels
on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Day-T-E-Taylor-ebook/dp/B0106GALR4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1435512473&sr=1-1&keywords=Revolution+Day&pebp=1435512460458&perid=1CCVM4BE2J6WKH55WM9Y
Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.
Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife and daughter and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.
Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015. Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.