Name Richard P Rochford
Where are you from:
Born in Essex, England to Australian parents.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I am married with two teenage boys and a dog to complete the family. My background is in design though I also have a further degree in computer science.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I don’t really have any recent news. Unfortunately, after publishing ‘A Born Victim’, my fulltime job began to make far greater demands on my time. Because of that, the sequel to ‘A Born Victim’ with the working title of ‘A Born Survivor’ is still only partially complete though I do hope it may come together some time in the not too far distant future!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing short stories for many years simply because my head was always spinning with ideas. There’s a sort of joke about a ‘Miranda warning’ for authors that anything anyone says or does may be taken down and used in a story. That’s what happens to me. I’ll see someone on a train, watch them for 5 minutes and suddenly I’m constructing a story about that person in my head giving them character and working out the decisions they might make in different situations.
I never really had the opportunity to get anything I wrote read by a wide audience. But about 5 years ago I started putting some of what I’d written onto a short stories website. The website content was free for people to read but what was most useful to me was the facility for readers to pass comment on what they’d read. These comments and the number of times my stories were read was what really gave me the confidence to go all-out and create a full paperback size fiction book.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
This is actually quite an interesting question because I’m not even sure I do! Seriously, at what point can an author consider themselves a ‘writer’? Is it when you reach the first 100K words in something you’ve written? When you get the first book published? Or is it when you finally achieve sufficient sales to enable you to give up your ‘day-job’ and dedicate your time, full-time, to writing? I’m not actually sure what the answer to that is.
Perhaps, for me, it’s just the moment when I realized I had ideas and imagination I wanted to explore and started putting those ideas down in the form of stories.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published book, ‘A Born Victim’, actually grew out of nothing more than a character sketch of a young woman. This woman had a tough life in which everything seemed to go wrong despite the fact she was really a very lovely, kind, gentle person. She got bullied at work, taken advantage of and abused by her husband but still continued to be a good person. In the character sketch I tried to really contrast the very good, positive character of this young woman with the bad, evil, negative circumstances in which she found herself. I guess, to some extent, this was a commentary on how often in life bad things happen to good people.
I published this character sketch as a short story online and got so much interest from readers who wanted to know where the story went next that I decided to go on and develop the narrative further. Crazy as this might sound, that simple character sketch of a couple of thousand words grew into a book. I suppose what happened was that, having worked out the character of Gill Brogan (the ‘victim’) everything which happened to her grew out of the person she was and her interactions with those around her.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Sort of. I believe books are a very different medium to film and I really don’t like the current trend among some authors to write as though they are simply describing, often in the first person, a movie scene. I like to write with lots of detailed description so that reader is really transported in their imagination to the place and into the circumstances in which the character finds themselves. If the scene is a windy mountainside I want the reader to shiver as they read my description.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Some people just seem to be born lucky. I know that any success also always requires hard work and sacrifice but some people still seem to just be in the right place at the right time – all the time. My original character sketch explored the inverse of that situation – someone who was born unlucky. In fact, someone who was born a ‘victim’ to everything life threw at them. That’s where they title came from and it’s a theme I continue to explore in the sequel where I explore the character of someone who also has a lot of difficulty to contend with but somehow manages to overcome all the hardship and become a ‘survivor’.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess there is an underlying theme that good will ultimately triumph over evil. Despite everything bad that happens to the main character there are, in the background, a number of people who are willing to risk themselves in the fight against evil. The positive outcome at the end of the book reminds the reader that we all need to believe in the idea of good working out in the end.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Sadly, considering that this is a sometimes gritty thriller, rather a lot of it. I used the biographies of several abuse victims and also had input from a serving police officer who has been involved recently with this kind of situation.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Although the book didn’t start out as this, some of the events are indeed based upon real life events though not anyone personally known to me.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I don’t have a mentor as such though it would sometimes be really nice to have a sort of trusted advisor who could look at my work and tell me honestly whether there is any merit in what I’ve written.
The four most formative authors I’ve read are J R R Tolkien, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and Stephen King. The first three because I am simply in awe of their ability to construct an entire alternate reality complete with language, locations and characters who bear no relation to real life and yet, at the same time, are so compellingly real that the reader can identify with everything the character thinks or does. The fourth, Stephen King, I admire for his unerring ability to tap into our more primal fears and present us with a construct in which those fears become reality.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading a couple of very heavy, academic books on psychology but, while driving, I’m listening to “Want you Dead” by Peter James – part of his Roy Grace series.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I read a lot of work by indie authors. Some of it’s really good and some of it doesn’t really grab my attention. However, one author I’m actually re-reading at the moment is
Rebecca Forster. I’m really enjoying her ‘Hostile Witness’ which, not surprisingly, is another detective story!
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m still working, on and off, with ‘A Born Survivor’, the sequel to ‘A Born Victim’. This is another thriller in which some of the characters from the first book continue their story. I like the idea that, unlike a movie which ends and the characters disappear, my readers will get to continue interacting with the characters they’ve come to love and identify with.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
For a short time, at the start of writing A Born Victim, I did some proof reading for another author in the US. In return, he looked at some of my scenes or read short chapters and gave me expert feedback which was very useful in forcing me to sometimes revisit my work and make substantial changes.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Of course, like most authors, I’d love to pursue this as a career. At the moment that doesn’t seem terribly realistic and I’d be quite happy just to find time to write at all. However, who knows what the future may hold!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It’s difficult to really answer that until the book is complete because I’m really bad at planning things out from start to finish and rather let a story grow organically as it progresses. For that reason, I tend to prune out unwanted content or anything I don’t think works as I go along rather than ending up with a pile of regrets at the end of a piece of work.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My grandmother was quite a successful author in Australia and I have, perhaps, inherited something of her love for writing. I also read extensively as a child so have always enjoyed the written medium as a way of sharing imaginative stories.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The biggest challenge for me is finding the energy to be creative. In the past I’ve written academic articles and the process there is quite formulaic. All I need to do is study and be familiar with the content, structure my writing in a certain way and include appropriate references and there you go. However, writing creative fiction is something which requires a huge amount of creative energy – which is something I don’t always have.
Fiona: Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Of the authors I mentioned earlier I guess Douglas Adams is without doubt my favourite and it was his ability to construct entire universes of fictional potential which really inspires me.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I tend to base my books on places I have visited. I like to think I do have an artist’s ability to observe so I easily commit scenes or locations to memory then use them later in my writing. I’m lucky enough to be able to travel quite a bit in Europe so have a wide range of cultures and countries to draw on in creating scenes for my work.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I initially asked an artist friend to create a cover for me but later on I engaged someone from the website ‘Fiverr’ who create a really professional looking book cover for a genuinely low price.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was, without doubt, proof reading. This must be the bugbear of any author but it’s so important as it makes the difference between a book which grates on the nerves of the reader and one which flows easily into the mind.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Unfortunately, as I researched the book, I learned more than I wanted to know about the most depraved levels of evil to which human beings can fall. It seems there really is no limit to just how inhuman some humans can be! It’s not something I really wanted to learn but I guess it’s an inevitable outcome from writing in this genre.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Chase your dream – but be reflective. Don’t be ashamed to admit that what you’ve written is a load of rubbish and fit only for a sharp tap of the ‘delete’ key. Then start again and keep on writing. Don’t expect to get rich quick. If you don’t enjoy writing for the sake of writing – don’t bother writing.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Keep reading! That might seem an odd thing to say but as more and more people come to rely on the immediacy of the internet for both information and entertainment the sheer joy of immersing yourself in a good book is a pleasure increasingly being forgotten about.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really. It was probably ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’!!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I have a rather irreverent sense of humour and nothing makes me laugh quite as much as when pomposity or arrogance becomes a victim of a humorous situation. What makes me cry is witnessing cruelty – whether to animals or people. Life is hard enough without anyone doing anything to make it harder for another creature.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
Present: The Dalai Lama. Past: Jesus. I sense in the sayings and teachings of these men a serenity not often really experienced in our modern, hectic world and that is something I find really appealing.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Wow. Gloomy! I haven’t really given this much though – yet! I guess any author would love to be remembered for the characters they have created so something linking me to the fictional names or events I’ve written about would be kind of amazing as a legacy.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I like to travel and explore. Old mines, industrial sites, canals and abandoned railways intrigue me. We have a motorhome and enjoy the freedom and flexibility to travel and stop pretty much wherever we want.
I also like to work with my hands and enjoy making and building all sorts of things.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m really not a huge fan of television at all. I find it frankly boring compared to the rich experience of reading but I do enjoy a good film. My past favourites include movies such as ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘Manon Des Sources’ or Anthony Hopkins stunning performance in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ while, on a lighter note, I also enjoy box sets of ‘Only Fools and Horses’.
Fiona: Favourite foods / Colours/ Music
My favourite food is curry though a good Hungarian goulash cooked over an open fire comes in as a close second.
The best colours are those of autumn. From my office window I can see for about 20 miles and a lot of that distance is woodland so during the autumn it’s hard to concentrate on writing as the changing light illuminates nature’s amazing colour show.
My tastes in music are wide and varied. I like rock bands such as Rush, Sabbaton and Ramstein but I also enjoy the more melodic style of Knoffler. If I had to choose one band over all the rest it would still be Pink Floyd!
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Writing is really only a hobby for me at the moment and I actually earn my living as a teacher. However, if I could have my dream job it would probably be working outdoors as something like a forest manager.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I don’t have either a blog or website as such but readers can make contact via Facebook or Twitter on:
I also have a video interview available at:
There is a trailer for A Born Victim at: