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BookLore Interview
Howard Tilley

1. Comedic fantasy is currently a popular genre. Is there any particular reason or influence that made you set your novel in Roman Britain?

There are many reasons why I decided to set my book in the Roman era. Firstly, there hasn’t been that many fictional stories written about the Romans so from that perspective it would stand out from the crowd a bit more. Secondly, I could parody a lot of modern day culture better this way, after all, the further back in time you go, the more innovations and historical events you can cunningly change to your advantage – chapter four’s twist on the Guy Fawkes thing for example.

Also I’ve got a big book on the Romans at home, but that’s got absolutely nothing to do with it at all.

2. You live in South Derbyshire. Were you born there?


Oh, you want details? Ok. Well you see, when two people love each other very much, there are certain biological urges... waffle, mumble, nervous fidget...and then out pops a baby, fully formed!

But seriously, I have lived in a small village in South Derbyshire for all my natural, so to speak. I moved to another village, further north, called Milford for a time, actually about 4 or 5 years. Fortunately we didn’t sell our old house and so moved back into it when we returned – which was nice.

3. What do you think of the fountain in Derby Market Square?

They have a fountain? Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, but then I do live about 20 miles out from the city. Most of the time I’m busy writing and don’t have time to go there.

4. What have the Romans ever done for us?

Built the fountain in Derby Market Square? Other than that I can’t think of a single thing that the Romans have ever done for us. Nothing. Who are the Romans?

5. Is Roman History a hobby or did you research purely for A Little Roman Therapy? (No pun intended:)?

No, I wouldn’t say that Roman history is a particular hobby of mine in any way. I don’t go chariot spotting on my afternoons off if that’s what you’re thinking. I have on occasion done some lion taming, but only because there’s a roaring trade to be had from it. More of an interest to me would be British history on the whole, so that could be where it comes from.

6. What is your favourite colour?

Don’t you mean “WHAT... is your favourite colour?”. To which I’d say, “Blue – no, yellow... AARRGHH!!” and then plummet screaming into a deep chasm.

7. Lager or Bitter? (Wine is an acceptable answer, as we won’t publish your address:) .

I don’t drink alcohol of any kind.

8. Are there any Roman ruins in the area of Derby? If so, which do you find most inspiring?

Not to my knowledge, but then I didn’t do any research on a local level as it were. No doubt though some knowledgeable soul out there will be able to come up to me and fill me in. My response to which would be “La la la, I’m not listening!”

9. Nigel, Chrissi and Ray are thinking of going to Rome, so far we have had recommendations for the Vatican City, the Pantheon and the Colosseum, what would you say is essential tourism for Rome?

Visit everything! There are lots of temples and ruins to see but yes, the Colosseum and the Pantheon are probably the most well preserved structures so they’re definitely worth a look. The Vatican as well but watch out for the Pope.

10. Which horse are you backing in the Grand National? (If it has already been run by the time you get this, you can lie and say that you backed the winner from the off…)

I’m hopeless at picking winners and never won so much as a farthing in donkey’s years. But when you think about it the Grand National gives horses a bad name, wouldn’t you say? Like Divorce Referendum, Mould Scraper Deluxe and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Nutter. Who chooses them? Loons that’s who.

11. Can you roll your tongue into a tube? Or do you have earlobes? (Both genetic things that you cannot help, without lots of weird pioneering surgery…)

I cannot roll my tongue into a tube but I do have earlobes – which, yes, I can roll into a tube but have stopped doing it since it made me look like I’d had a botched face lift.

12. Do you suffer from road rage?

Not in the least. I don’t lose my temper at all. I’m a very calm person on the whole. I’d say the only thing that really annoys me is when people say something and then follow it up with “but at the end of the day...” – it’s becoming the staple stock phrase for driving me up the wall – stop saying that!!

13. Which would you prefer to watch? Blackadder, Frankie Howerd, Life of Brian or Carry on Cleo? Why?? (I just thought that Roman Therapy had hints of each…)

A right ponderer and no mistake. I wouldn’t say there was a lot of “Carry on...” in any of my work. I prefer the more surreal humour and word plays found in the Life of Brian and other Monty Python material. There’s a bit of Blackadder in it, but then it’s quite a common theme to have a clever man and a complete idiot working together.

14. Apple or PC?

Hmm...the eternal conundrum. That’s actually a very difficult question. Whilst I think that there are definite merits for the consumption of fresh fruit on a daily basis there’s no way I could stomach an entire police constable. Unless you meant political correctness in which case five instances of that a day can almost certainly help keep your heart healthy. I think I’d have to say PC.

15. Do you think that British Summer Time is a valid thing now that most of us no longer have cattle to look after?

In my opinion British Summer Time is not just a valid thing, but should be made compulsory. All the time. For everyone. Everywhere. Even cattle.

16. Should banks be made into pubs?

Only if pubs could then be made into banks. You could go into your nearest branch of Abbey National and order a pint from the hole in the wall machine. Of course you’d have to stand next to a life sized cut out of Martin Kemp in order to drink it but that would be a small price to pay I think. Then afterwards why not go down your local for a swift bank statement with your mates?

17. Why do you not have a cheesy “author” photograph on your site or your book?

There is actually a picture of me on my website, ( - shameless plug!) but what I’m really interested in is why you’ve put speech marks around the word author. Did you really mean to say something else, perhaps? Have you been watching too much Austin Powers?

Come on, throw me a frickin’ bone here.

18. Your Website is very impressive, especially the graphics. What level of involvement did you have?

To me the website is a very important part of promotion which was why it is entirely my own work apart from the illustrations which were done by an artist friend of mine called Wayne Gillott. I bought the domain, server space, a graphics package for the bits that I did myself and even learnt a bit of HTML before deciding that using one of the web designer packages would be quicker and easier to use. It’s updated regularly and has lots of information about my books, characters, etc...

Visit to judge for yourself...

19. Have you ever owned a Rover 75? (Running gag I’m afraid)?

No, and didn’t anyone ever tell you that running with gags is dangerous?

20. Have you plans for a sequel to A little Roman Therapy? Or are you working on another novel, perhaps a different genre?

Book two is called “The Villain Of The Peace” and is the next book in the series. It is set one year on from when my first book finished and this time centres around the legionnaires. Without giving too much away, they become the first ever police force formed in Britannia – the Fairly Serious Crimes Squad – and have to solve something so ingenious that it not only comes from the very highest echelons of power, but if they fail it could make the entire Roman army obsolete overnight.

21.Is being an author a dream come true? Do you see it as being a good career move?

Being an author isn’t really a difficult job by most interpretations. Being a successful author is perhaps the key. It doesn’t provide a steady income like most occupations so for a large part of the year you’re living off the royalties and/or advance of the last book you wrote. This is why, unless you’re one of the top authors in the country, you may need to find additional sources of income whilst writing, such as a part time job in the local (bank/pub) or by selling (fake passports/overpriced CDs) for example.

22. Is the National Lottery a good or bad thing?

Do you know that I’ve never actually played the lottery? It’s true. I just look at the odds of winning and shake my head. I even read somewhere that if you bought a ticket on Monday you had more of a chance of being knocked down and killed than of actually winning by Wednesday. I’ll keep my pound, thanks. It’s safer.

I would have to say it’s probably a good thing though. There are lots of charites and good causes that get money they wouldn’t normally get. Pity Richard Branson didn’t get the tender when Camelot make so much profit...

23. Favourite author and/or book?

My favourite author would have to be Terry Pratchett. His work has always impressed me. I don’t know if I could pick out a favourite book on the other hand, there are so many to choose from. Maybe “Thief of Time”. Having said that, I also like Douglas Adams and J.R.R Tolkien as well.

To finish this exhaustive list of questions and complete your detailed psychological profile please confirm your favourite Spice Girl.

Sporty Spice – no, U.N Ambassador Spice... AARRGGH!!

by Chrissi and Nigel - 11th April 2003

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