Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Interview with Ronald Ady Crouch

Next up is Ronald Ady Crouch.  Brave soul that he is, Ron is one of only a couple men working on this project.  Let's read what he has to say about himself, and then like always, you will have a chance to pick his brain in the comments.

Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know? 

I started my merchant navy navigating career with BP Tankers in January 1972, just before my nineteenth birthday. Achieved my 2nd Mates Foreign Going Certificate of Competency. Sailed frequently to the Middle East. Suffered the Crossing the Line Ceremony (first-timers crossing the equator) by having all my hair cut off with nail scissors and then dunked with rotting liquefied garbage saved by the ship’s cook for the ceremony. Favourite trips were to Scandinavia, particularly Norway. Breathtaking scenery. Then worked on middle trade ships and coasters with various other companies before joining the Sussex Police in England in 1978. One of seven children, five sisters. Immigrated to Canada July 1990 and eventually became a Canadian citizen.   

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

At age 14, I was daydreaming in class (a usual pastime of mine) and thought about how I’d like to be a poet living in a cabin in the middle of the woods. Even prior to that, probably about age 10, I loved writing stories for English homework. I always did well at that. Interestingly, in my book, O’Malley’s Cottage, I suppose I’m the old guy writing away in the cottage in the middle of Algonquin Provincial Park.  

How long does it take you (on average) to write a book?

Normally about a year. My crime novel, Officer Down took me far less, but then it was my second novel in the Sam Stephens series. 

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Disorganized and chaotic. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I need strong coffee all day and red wine in the evening and preferably no interruptions. 

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

Sometimes they hijack me. Before I retired I was driving to work one afternoon and said to myself, “I really ought to give Rebecca a call and see how she’s doing.” I was concerned about her, she’d been through an awful ordeal. Then I realized she was the main character in O’Malley’s Cottage. It was a surreal moment. 

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? 

This is from my novel, Murder on Spithandle Lane. I’d like to spend the day at Rose Cottage on Spithandle Lane, Sussex, England with WWII veteran, Harry Davidson. After lunch we’d go for a hike through the beech woods and over the rolling hills by the cottage with his two Rottweilers. In the evening we’d drive over to the Shepherd and Dog in the quaint village of Fulking and have a beer together. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

In the morning, sitting in the breezeway with a large cup of coffee listening to the CBC radio. After that, walking my two dogs over the golf course. Depending on the time of year; planning camping trips in the wilderness park. Hiking, sometimes canoeing. In the winter, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sometimes winter camping. Summer, cycling, kayaking and paddle boarding. Gardening, one of my favourites. Every evening practising the guitar. 

What does your family think of your writing?

I think they’re actually proud of me. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That the easiest part of the whole process is actually writing the book. The hard work comes afterwards. Proofreading, finding a publisher, the most challenging part of all,. Rejection letters can be very demoralising. My wife Cathy is the one behind me doing all the hard work. I wouldn’t be published without her.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Four novels for BWL. Two self-published children’s books. Murder on Spithandle Lane is my favourite. It’s personal to me. After work during the summer I’d sometimes cycle home along Spithandle Lane. I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven travelling along that country road. 

What do you think makes a good story?

One that captures you quickly. I’m getting too old to waste time reading a book I can’t get into. I like description, I like to feel I’m there among the characters, that I can see everything they can see. A book that engrosses you so completely, that if the story takes place in freezing conditions and you are sitting in the sunshine, you suddenly feel cold. 

Who is your favorite author?

Lee Child.

What is a favorite childhood memory you can share with us?

In Sussex, England. Cycling home from school on a balmy summer afternoon, over the Toll Bridge in Shoreham-by-Sea, turning off by the pub called the Sussex Pad and eventually off-road onto the bridle path, Lancing College off in the distance to my right. Cycling the South Downs Way, past the semi-detached cottages right on the path, past the chalk pit and eventually home. I was probably about eleven. 

Open your most recent story to page 12 and tell us the fifth complete sentence on the page.

I was smiling at him, gun pointed at his balls.

What genres do you like to read?

Crime thrillers. Anything by Lee Child or James Lee Burke. Plus true adventure stories, and wilderness camping books. 

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents? If so, what are they?

Watercolour artist. Practiced Russian Martial Arts before retiring. Now learning to play the acoustic guitar.

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Sam Stephens. When horrific things happen to good people, a man like Sam Stephens takes care of business and saves the tax payers a fortune in judicial proceedings. An eye for an eye, my kind of guy.

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

How difficult it is to get yourself known. You can have written the most wonderful masterpiece, but if nobody knows who you are, it will remain collecting dust.  

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? Why? 

Harry Potter … I could pay my mortgage off.

What would the main character in your most recent book have to say about you?

He’d say I’m stubborn, loyal, and honest.

If you could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything for 24 hours, what would it be?

Sailing aboard a square-rigger somewhere warm among tropical islands.

If your life were a movie, what would you call it? What would the theme song be?

Crouch’s Chronicles. The theme song would be, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” by Monty Python.

If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?

Rural England before the Industrial Revolution, when the horse was the main means of travel, or shanks’s pony, if you didn’t have a horse. A simpler way of life. 

Ah, gotta love a fellow Monty Python fan.  The Knights who say Ni!

Is anyone else wondering just which book is was that he opened to page 12?  Because I have to know ... 

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