When did you realise you wanted to become an author?
I’ve always loved writing stories. I compiled a collection (unpublished) of short stories under the title ‘A Thin Place.’ As a priest perhaps my greatest liberation was attending a course on sermon writing at which I was given permission to tell stories.
Who are the people that have influenced your work?
Well, that would be a long list! I have to start with my English teachers at school, and Charles Cleale in particular. Also an accomplished musician, he was a minor light in the English Folk Song and Dance movement with Cecil Sharpe. Among writers, of course C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and T.S. Eliot. I love Jill Paten Walsh’s ‘Knowledge of Angels.’
What is your process for creating your work?
I’m not sure I have a process. I sit down at the computer – I use an Apple Mac – and write. Almost any time of day or night can find me writing. Sometimes ideas will come to me when I’m out walking, or relaxing in the bath. I will sometimes read a chapter or a section to Gillian and gauge her response to it.
What genres/audiences do you create your work for?
Intelligent adults – intelligent and adult enough to countenance the idea that there may be more to life than what we see. Or do I mean childlike enough? But definitely not childish. Anyone who likes Diana Gabledon’s work need not apply.
Where do your ideas come from?
I often find myself reading historical fiction and then wondering, suppose someone from our time, with our technology, came into that? What would happen? My ideas are very much informed by my spirituality, which is definitely not orthodox Christianity, yet nearing the spirituality that joins so many world religions at the mystical level. See www.ceilede.co.uk
What is your favourite work of your own and why?
The Seaborne is my first full-length novel, and I’ve been with it for twenty years now, and I’m still not tired of it. It’s story and poetry and spirituality, and I find it immensely nourishing. I didn’t set out to write a story of redemption – I set out to write a story of a man from our time finding himself in a more primitive culture. The rest grew out of it with an inevitability that makes me believe that one doesn’t control the characters one invents: they take on their own life and they turn round and do things you didn’t expect of them. I’m enjoying writing the second book of the trilogy, and I’m so much looking forward to the third – the conclusion of the tale of the Seaborne.
What has been of greatest interest to you in the past week?
Tens of thousands of fires in the Amazon rainforest, and all of them deliberate. What the **** do we think we’re playing at???
What do you do when you aren’t creating your work?
Work. Finish building the house; look after Gillian; attend to my demanding family. Meditate. Go for walks. Cook. Sing. Live.
What makes you smile the most?
A frog in the grass.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Nobody knows, dear – nobody knows…