Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Paul Hobday I’m 63
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in Kent, and practised as a GP there for 30 years. I was born in London and brought up in Surrey.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
My proudest achievements are my three daughters with my first wife. My least proud moment was ending that marriage. But I’m settled now having retired from medicine. However I refuse to call myself a retired person as I’ve always got a full diary. I am pleased to have two step-daughters courtesy of my second wife.
I was brought up in a lovely village atmosphere of Blindley Heath in Surrey &attended a grammar school in Purley then Guy’s Hospital Medical School. I became a doctor because of the NHS and never wanted to work in any other healthcare system. Throughout my career I’ve seen the corruption that occurs when doctors and money mix. I’ve seen how patients do not necessarily get the correct management and come to harm because of the profit motive. That has driven me to fight for Bevan’s NHS—and to resist its commercialisation and any steps towards the disasterous American system.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My first grandchild was born last year and we are expecting the second in a few months. I’m busy promoting my book at NHS meetings and book-signings. On finishing this interview I’m leaving for a holiday in New England.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have written articles throughout my career and published academic papers. Much has been to persuade people that the NHS needs to be protected from those who want to dismantle it to make money for themselves.
I never however thought I had a novel in me. But I hit on the idea that I could try to get my message across in that form, as I do not believe it has been done in such a way before. Everything else I have tried has failed to engage the public. After retiring from clinical medicine, with the attacks on the NHS intensifying, I decided just about 4 years ago to give it a go.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Only when I had the book in my hand six months ago and to my surprise found it had a good reception.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The Americanisation of one of our most cherished institutions, the one thing I think defines us as a nation, the NHS. Bevan said that the NHS would last as long as there were folk who would fight for it. I have to be one of those folk. We owe it to the next generation. The public need to know what is happening under the radar and under the smokescreen of Brexit.
The sole purpose of the book is to get the message out to the public. If they knew the truth they would rise up against the piecemeal destruction of our NHS. It should be a bigger topic than Europe. My motives are pure. It is something I am passionate about and all proceeds go to campaigns that are fighting for the survival of the NHS.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I had several other working titles. Eventually I realised the word Deceit needed to be in the title as the whole book and problem is about deceit. Initially it was The Deceit Disease which didn’t sound right and didn’t really describe the message I was trying to get across. Syndrome is much more appropriate. It describes a collection of problems not necessarily correlated with each pther and derives from the Greek word meaning “concurrence”. It has the medical overtones that are obviously relevant. You will see why that is more appropriate on reading the book. And you will only find out why it has a subtitle of “Catch 69” on reading the book !
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My challenge was to get what is a complicated, erudite and sometimes stuffy message across in a way that was entertaining, so my style had to be “chatty”.
I hope there are some good laughs in it too, and some shocking moments.
I enjoyed pulling threads together, and planting seeds of those threads throughout the novel.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Obviously one writes about what one knows and experiences in life. There are parallels between the central character and me, but it isn’t me, and nor necessarily are his opinions those I share. No one character is based on anyone I know, but some I know might recognise some personality traits.
The central theme is very realistic and factual. I describe what has actually happened to the NHS throughout its 71 years of existence and what is planned. This is intertwined with all the real scandals of our lifetime, bringing them to life.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I didn’t have to travel, but I have used my knowledge of the world from previous trips, for instance to India, to make the tale more interesting.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My editor and publisher has used Martin Driscoll before on other projects. He produced a few options. The one we chose is stunning and explains the book, as much as any image can.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That the NHS is being dismantled in a secret clandestine salami-slicing way, and this is being kept from the public by the main drivers—big business—who have politicians, the media and the medical profession in their pocket. But corporate ambitions extend way beyond the NHS. This has been going on for 40 years through Governments of all colours. It is a frightening future. It is a dystopian novel.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I used to read all Ben Elton’s latest, but not recently. I enjoy biographies from Michael Palin and Eric Idle to John Bew’s Citizen Clem. James Hawes’ The Shortest History of Germany is a great read.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Just the lady who turned out to be my editor and publisher. She encouraged and inspired me. I can’t say anything or anybody else did.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. This was one task that I said I would never repeat. It was never intended to be a career. I had one idea and that has been exhausted now.
However ! More recently I have begun to develop some other thoughts….so never say never. I’ve also been approached to collaborate with someone on a book project….
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, but the obvious thing is that it is a big book which puts people off. Would I reduce the size if I had my time again ? I doubt it. I would hate to leave things out and the intended audience was just me. What I really need now is an expert editor who is experienced at abridging books to produce a slim-line version. I couldn’t do thia. It would stay the same size. It needs an objective outsider.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
The research which was extensive taught me a lot about the society we live in. It’s not good.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
A British actor like Tom Hollander, Tom Hiddleston or Mark Strong
Maxine Peake fit in nicely too.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Enjoy it. But that might not be as easy as it was for me. I had fun as I had no expectations, no deadline, no need to make money from it—so I only wrote when I felt like it or had inspiration. I often went months without looking at it.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Wake up and join the fight for our NHS
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Jessica Mitford :Hons and Rebels. Apparently it is J.K.Rowling’s favourite too.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Janet and John , I suppose. It might have been a James Bond. Moonraker ?
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My favourite film “Life of Brian” and similar Python humour. Satirical hard hitting comedians like Jonathan Pie. Alexei Sayle. And of course my favourite, Eddie Iszard.
Schindler’s List should make everyone cry and be shown in schools.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
John Lennon. Simple. My influence and flawed hero
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
History, travel , walking and genealogy. The Hobdays originate from Kent and I’ve traced the line back to 1415.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Anything by Stephen Poliakoff or Andrew Davies
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I think I’m the most open-minded person I know ! I like and will try any food and enjoy any genre of music (except rap). My wife has taught me any colours by Farrow and Ball.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
What I do now.
Enjoy history, travelling, walking and the family.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Cuddling my daughters
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I don’t want a headstone or even a funeral. Just a few friends and relatives having a drink over my ashes and listening to my favourite songs
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My publishers website and blog. www.strandpublishing.co.uk
But I also Tweet and am on Facebook