What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Richard Rochford and I was born in Essex in southern England though I now live in a tiny village in the West Midlands (UK).
Please tell us a little about yourself (something different not contained in your bio).
Possibly the most unlikely thing about me is that I keep bees. I have several hives in various locations and find them absolutely fascinating creatures.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing academic material for some time but really started with fiction in early 2010 initially writing short stories then beginning work on A Born Victim.
What do you believe is the most difficult thing about becoming an author?
I guess the biggest challenge is getting published or, if you self-publish, in getting your book noticed among literally tens of thousands of others.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Besides bee keeping and walking in the country with my dog I like to travel and I’ve been privileged to spend time in many European countries.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My latest book is A Born Victim. It’s the story of a woman who might be the perfect victim except for her own tenacity, the love of one man and the determination of a young detective.
Was there any particular thing that inspired you to write A Born Victim?
Believe it or not this book grew entirely from a character sketch of the woman who is the key character – Gill Brogan. I’d written a series of short stories about a young woman who has all sorts of things go wrong in her life but who nevertheless manages to always come out on top of her circumstances. I started wondering what she might be like if she lacked the confidence to overcome in that way and Gill Brogan was the result.
Is this book part of a series?
Yes, the intention is for it be part of an ongoing series. I’m working on the second book right now which features several of the characters from the first.
Would you share a blurb with us?
‘A Born Victim’ is the story of Gill Brogan, a young single mother who is pushed deep into despair by workplace bullying. Just when she thinks nothing could get any worse she finds herself narrowly escaping an attempt on her life.
Set against this troubled life is the story of Lucy Taylor, an ambitious young detective who has dedicated herself to investigating violent crimes against women which all too often go unsolved. As she investigates case after case, each one more disturbing than the last, Taylor begins to see common threads which she hopes she can unravel to find the villains and bring them to justice.
The book reaches a climax as a determined, well organised criminal group emerges from the shadowy world of cyber-space to carry out one last crime in the real world. Lucy Taylor and her geeky side-kick, Mike Watson, are all that stand between the criminals and their victims.
Throughout the book, psychological themes are analysed lending a deeper, more serious note to the fast paced thriller as the author explores the factors which have formed our attitudes toward women and the acceptability of violence against them.
Would you share a short excerpt?
In the darkness between sunset and moon rise they brought her to the beach, dropping her, half dead with pain and exhaustion, onto the firm sand just above the waterline. She lay as she fell, on her back, legs slightly apart, blonde hair tangled about her shoulders, one arm across her breasts. Her face stared up at the star pierced blackness but her eyes were closed, shutting her soul away into some private place where the pain could not penetrate.
The men, relieved of their burden, stood around in silence, alert, waiting, very aware of the eerie glow of the night vision camera being used to record the drama. No one spoke and in the stillness the susurration of sea on sand was mesmerising, almost overpowering. The girl lay motionless as though already dead.
High up on the cliff top a car passed, lights sweeping out to sea at the bend in the road, and the men glanced up, suddenly tense, concerned perhaps that they might be discovered with the evidence of their crime still living, lying on the sand at their feet. The car rushed on, its exhaust note echoing suddenly against cliffs on the other side of the road, then it was gone, swallowed up in the night. The girl heard nothing.
A gentle breeze stirred stems of rough grass on a narrow strip of land below the cliff, whispered through the rocks and tugged at a few strands of blonde hair that had fallen, dry across the girl’s face but she did not feel it.
Then the moon rose, light breaking over the cliff top with almost startling suddenness and illuminating the beach. Wavelets were capped with silvery moon reflecting bubbles and rushed, dancing onto the white sand where moonlight kissed pale skin and fair hair throwing the curve of hip and breast into sharp contrast against darker shadow.
The last member of the group slid down the path, his boots loud against the loose rock to join them on the beach uncoiling rope from over his shoulder and pulling a hammer and a steel spike from a small bag. The others gathered round as the last man made his preparations, pulling the girl’s arms up and binding her wrists together then dragging her unresisting body around so her hands were toward the low surf. He drove the spike deep into the sand swinging the hammer down in chiming blows that quickly sank the length of the steel immovably into the wet sand. Then he tied her hands to the spike.
The men moved up the beach, watching, waiting as the tide moved in. One lit a cigarette, the flame flaring brightly against the velvet sky. Another did the same and the darkness was punctuated by red sparks as they inhaled. The girl died with very little drama, her broken spirit and battered body only capable of token resistance to her fate. A weak cough, a short spasm, a few tremors of effort running through her body and then the incoming waves claimed her, covering her face and floating her blonde hair around her head like the halo of a martyred saint.
Do you have plans for a new book? Would you tell us a little about it?
I’m currently working on a second book called ‘A Born Survivor’ which develops the life of several characters from ‘A Born Victim’ but also introduces some fascinating new characters. I love the idea of keeping several characters and sharing with readers how their lives develop and the adventures they have but one of the key characters in this story is a young disabled woman who finds herself abducted by a gang whose motives are far too complex for her to understand. While the first book has a theme of victim psychology running throughout it this second book examines what I think of as the ‘Shackleton factor’ – the thing which allows an ordinary person to overcome the odds and survive despite their circumstances.
How long have you been writing? And who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve written academic articles for many years but really started writing fiction only in 2010. I don’t know that there was any specific inspiration besides the fact that I felt I had a story to tell.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Yes. I’m happy to do this.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
The title of the book is something of an oxymoron in that the ‘victim’ is not born but made by her circumstances and background. My original cover was the outcome of a concept idea I had which was drawn by an artist friend. However, more recently I updated the cover design with work from:
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
No! Well, sort of. I would be very wary of basing a character on anyone I knew but of course, my own life experience is represented to some extent in my characters.
Is there a certain Author who influenced you in writing?
I read widely so it’s very difficult to pinpoint one single author but the Stieg Larson trilogy has been a powerful, recent influence on my writing and thinking about just how far an author can push his characters within a fiction genre.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I believe you simply cannot beat the experience of holding a paperback book in your hands. It’s not just the words on the page it’s the texture of the page, the smell of paper and ink, the weight of the book in your hand. Having said that, I read widely and like to dip in and out of several books at one time so carrying around a library of paperbacks would not be terribly convenient. Ebook wins for convenience!
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
This has to be a toss up between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Lord of the Rings. It’s very difficult to choose really and yes, I’ve read both of those books several times over the years.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Why or why not?
Obviously some books transfer better than others but, on the whole I think not because the power of a book is that it is the reader whose imagination fills in the blanks fitting faces to characters and filling in the gaps with their own experience and emotion. With a movie all of that is explicitly provided for the viewer which can go disastrously wrong. Having said that, A Born Victim would, I think, make an excellent movie script.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it? (eBook, hardback or paperback)
I’m currently getting on toward the end of ‘Dead Simple’ by Peter James. I love the way he builds excellent research and meticulous levels of detail into a complex and sometimes unexpected storyline. I have to confess that ‘reading’ is not entirely true – this one is on audio book.
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn’t finish?
The only book that falls into this category is something called ‘Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature’ by Espen Aarseth. It was a very useful book but not easy reading so I just picked through it for the information I wanted.
What do you think about book trailers?
In theory it’s a great idea to use blended media linking the written word with movie type trailers. However, sadly, most book trailers seem to be quite poorly done so I’m not sure how successful the end result might be.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
I guess the most important is to be true to yourself and write for whatever motivates you to write rather than setting out trying to be commercially successful.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
OK – Confession – I do. Because I write in various fields I feel it’s better to have one name associated with each so readers identify one name with one aspect of my work.
If you could be any character in your book, who would it be and why?
Greg Parker. He’s a military man who has made his fortune in the business of private security. He also gets the girl at the end of the story so that makes him an obvious choice. However, in reality, I actually have more in common with Mike Watson who is a bit of a computer geek.
If your book was ever made into a movie, what actor/actress would you like to see play the main character(s)?
Gill Brogan would be the most difficult to cast but I think Australian actress, Rose Byrne would be a good choice.
I‘d like to see Claire Forlani as Lucy Taylor mainly because she fits the bill as a simply stunning woman but also because she can express so much with her face.
Casting the male roles is more difficult because Greg Parker would need to be Jason Statham with the rough edge knocked off and Danny, his sidekick, would best be played by a younger version of Bruce Willis.
Steve Carrell would be good as the actor to play Mike Watson because he does ‘geek’ well but also plays well the deeper, more in touch side of the character.
Have you ever considered writing in a completely different genre? If so, what would it be and why.
I already write both academic and fictional material but if I wanted to branch out in the area of fiction I’d like to explore fantasy. Creating whole worlds, cultures, characters and adventures seems like a huge challenge but a lot of fun. I guess it just appeals to me to be able to write my own rules from the ground up.
Do you think the current popularity of eBooks will last or do you believe it is just another passing trend?
I suspect that, like most technologies, things will move on and some new format or device will arise. However, I don’t know that society will ever want to go back to paper based books. I suspect what might come next will be some format of interactive books which allow a richer experience for the reader in the same way Blu-ray disks provide a more encompassing experience than DVDs.
Considering Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing, do you think one has a clear advantage over the other? If so, please elaborate.
Indie publishing is the purest form of capitalism within the author/reader relationship because it is entirely driven by the merit of the author. If the book is no good it won’t sell and the author will sink without trace. Since there are no multi-million pound marketing budgets to convince readers to buy a certain book it is more or less a level playing field upon which authors can demonstrate their talent and ability.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what did you do about it?
Yes! For a host of reasons I found myself quite depressed for a while and could not write a thing during that time. To some extent getting out of that was just a case of letting time run its course but one thing that actually really helped me was that I wrote a story about an author who found he could no longer write and used that vehicle to really explore my feelings and emotions at the time.
Where can readers follow you?
Your Facebook page?
Your Goodreads author page?
Your Twitter details?
Buy Links for A Born Victim:
http://fola.me/He4z5 – UK
http://fola.me/Yy2a4 – World
Feed a Read – paperbacks
Tom and I would like to thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to share with us today. It has been a real pleasure having you here on our blog. I hope you will visit again in the future.