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?
My name is Trevor D’Silva. I am in my late 30s
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from the United States of America. I live in a city called Charlotte which was named after Queen Charlotteof Mecklenburg-Strelitz who was the wife of King George III. That is why it is also knows as the ‘Queen City’. It is located in the state of North Carolina.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was born and brought up in India in a Catholic family. I did my schooling in a Catholic institution run by the Jesuits. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and then came to the U.S and obtained master’s degrees in Engineering Management, and in Civil and Environmental Engineering. I also got an Associates in Applied Science in Accounting.
My early childhood days were not very exciting like some people, although I wish it was. I spent my time reading a lot of books and improving my vocabulary. I spoke English(British)at home, and my late grandmother and parents always insisted that I spoke proper English; no slang or casual language was encouraged. I also got the love for reading novels and history from my grandmother, and military and WW-2 history from my late father, sitting on his lap and watching war movies with him as a child.
After my education, I lectured in engineering and Environmental Science subjects at two colleges. I then gave up teaching and decided to work in a company. Even though my degrees are in engineering and accounting, my passion has always been history and writing novels.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Living a normal life – working and also trying to promote my two novels. Thinking of starting my third novel. I have a little fun now and then, but a lot of things keep me busy.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing at a very young age probably around nine or ten. Those were stories for children, because I was a child then. However, they were never published.
As I grew older, reading books from various authors, watching movies and also reading magazines gave me a lot of ideas. I found that writing gave me an escape from the pressures of everyday life. So, I thought I’d give it a go and start writing. I thought why regret later when things can be done when I’m still young and have a lot of energy.
My grandmother used to read a lot of novels and she and I would discuss history and some of the books we read. She once gave me a dictionary and told me that she was giving it to me because I like to write. So, that gave me some encouragement. I guess she understood me and saw my potential to become a writer. In fact, A Bloody Hot Summer is dedicated to her.
Years later, when I was in college, I started writing my debut novel but put it on hold to complete my degrees and to teach for two years. Therefore, it took me almost seventeen years to completeit.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably at the age of 9 or 10. As mentioned above, I wrote short stories, but those were never published. As I grew up, I would read anovel and say to myself that I can write a book like this or come up with a plot as good as this. Watching movies, documentaries, especially historical documentaries got my brain cells working and I decided to write my first novel Fateful Decisions which combined historical events of the early twentieth century with fiction.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been interested in history and fiction.
As mentioned above, I got the love for military history, stories, and movies while watching World War-2 movies with my father. I watched a lot of old Hollywood movies as a child. It was not just the story, but the time period they were set in that inspired me. I wanted my characters to be classy, just like the actors in those old movies.
Therefore, I decided that I would write a novel based on the history of the early twentieth century betweenWorld Wars I and IIand also include the Russian Revolution, the Great Depression, and Prohibition. It took me seventeen years to write Fateful Decisions, since I was busy getting my degrees, but all the while I kept collecting material which I felt would give me ideas. Some ideas came from watching historical documentaries and also historical dramas like Downton Abbey and The Godfather. Therefore, it was just not one idea but a collection of various ideas that inspired me to write my debut novel. Another reason I wanted to blend history and fiction was to make history interesting for people to read and learn history froma novel. Most people find history boring and this was a good way to make it interesting for the readers.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I decided that my second novel was going to be a murder mystery.Being an anglophile, I wanted it to be set in the English countryside in the 1920sin the summer months during a heat wave. So, I came up with the title A Bloody Hot Summer, which I think sums up the essence of the novel very well.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I do try and make the characters and conversations close to reality as possible because that is what I believe especially if the novel is set in a particular time period.
Writing fiction based on history and trying to get the characters to conform to certain time periods is very challenging especially when you as the writer have not lived through them.
Also, writing conversations can be very hard because not every conversation is going to be interesting. We unfortunately live in a fast-paced world where people want the story to be interesting from the first page and continue till the last chapter. However, if you take a moment and think, life does not work that way.
For example:When you meet people for the first time, you do not know what to talk about, but then like everyone does in life, you find a common topic and build a conversation or relationship from there. So, trying to develop such a conversation is very challenging as it can appear stilted.
Now with a murder mystery, the main aim is to make sure that the murderers are not obvious to the reader in the first few chapters. It must be written in such a way that the readers can make educated guesses as to who the killers are, but not be sure. That will make them want to continue reading. Another challenge is to keep the interest of the reader so that they can complete the book and see if theycorrectly guessed the killers.
According to me, the biggest challenge when writing a murder mystery, is to not have any holes in the plot. Trust me, a smart reader can figure out a hole in the plot and write about it in the reviews. So, you have to be careful and make sure that you have covered everything and not left a window open for a reader to dispute the plot.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not for this novel. I wanted it to be mainly a murder mystery and did not want to base it on the experiences of a particular person or mine for that matter.
However, various historical events mentioned in the novel like, the 1857 Indian Mutiny, World War1, Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa are true.But, nothing in the novel is based on any anyone who personally experienced those events.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I love travelling, but did not travel to gather information for these two books I’ve written. I use history as a guide and build my characters and plots from there. It helps to speak to people from a certain area especially when youdo not have the chance to visit that place due to time and budgetconstraints.
They can give you important details regarding the weather, the topography and culture. You do not want to embarrass yourself and write incorrect details about a place you set your story in, or even a small incident. If someone brings that mistake up in the review, then you lose credibility and there are some people who write horrible reviews focussing on just that one mistake
I would advise travelling to the place you want to write about and see for yourself what it is like, but if you can ask someone who lives there or has visited that area, then that is half the battle won, and you also save money. If you are unable to travel there, then the internet can help you obtain those details.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
David King who works for my publisher Black Rose Writing. He designed the cover. We went back and forth on many ideas and settled on this art deco cover which reflects the period the novel is set in. If you look at book covers of novels from the 1910s to the 1920s, they are done in the art deco style.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Sure. Both of my novels have hidden messages which the reader had to ferret out. In A Bloody Hot Summer, the reader will learn thatgreed never pays and that the sins or consequences of one’s sins passes to the next generation and impacts others. It is the same concept asFateful Decisions where decisions made by someone, have good or badconsequenceson the next generation and even strangers. In many cases, totally innocent strangersare affected by someone’s mistakes. We find so many examples of that even in today’s world.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of time to read other books. Working full time, writing my novels and promoting them takes a lot of my time. But the recent book I read on holiday was The Darwin Affair, and I appreciated the fact that the author, Timothy Mason,researched the Victorian period very well and incorporated history into his various plots. Me as a history person who likes crimes stories, thought that the book was very captivating especially at the end.
Before I began to write, I read novels written by modern authors like Brad Thor, James Patterson, Steve Berry, Clive Cussler, and others.
I grew up reading Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, Jeffery Archer, Jack Higgins, Ken Follet, Franklin W. Dixon, Enid Blyton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and others. Agatha Christie and Sidney Sheldon played an important role in inspiring me to write novels. I liked the way they weaved mystery and suspense to produce manythrilling books. Agatha Christie is my favourite writer.
In the acknowledgement section of A Bloody Hot Summer, I’ve thanked Dame Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for inspiring me to write my first murder mystery, and I think it was a way for me to thank them for that inspiration.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
No one, other than my parents, knew that I was writing. It took me seventeen years to write my debut novel, and even they did not know about ituntil the last two years. I wanted it to be a surprise and so kept it asecret until it was published. I think a couple of friends knew that I was writing, but no support came from them.
Actually, after the book was published, many people were surprised and admitted that they did not know that I was writing a novel. Of course, I have to thank my publisher, ‘Black Rose Writing’, forpublishing my novel, and helping me get my foot into the literary world.
Some friends and readers now encourage me to keep writing. I was especially touched when some readers reached out to me and told me that they learned a lot from my books. It is after reading my books that I get asked all the time when I am going to start writing my next book.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I do. Writing is one of my passions. I love putting my thoughts down and seeing a story develop from there. Writing takes a lot of time and requires a tremendous amount of patience. This sort of career will take years to build and be successful, and not many people are lucky enough to make it a full-time job. I would still like to work since I have spent many years studying and I want to use the knowledge I have gained to make the world a better place.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I think me, my editor and others have gone through the book so many times that I think we have nailed everything. I got to put down all my thoughts and made sure that there was no room for people to find fault with anything in the novel. But you never know, someone may find an error someplace. One cannot get rid of all the errors. I learned a lot from my mistakes when editing my first novel, and took steps to make sure that they were not repeated.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, I always learn a lot while researching my novels. When getting the novel edited, I learned a lot about Cockney and Scottish accents thanks to my British editor. Of course, to write a murder mystery, one has to research about poisons and the human anatomy. So, I learned a good deal regarding those topics. Regarding history, I learned about British history in India and also about England in the 1920s, the phrases used in that period, and facts about the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa and First World War.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Not sure who can play Dermot, because I have described what he looks like in my book. So, if they find someone who fits that description, that would be swell. Lilian Endecott can be played by Dame Maggie Smith; Solicitor Bertram Kerr by David Suchetand I guess whoever the director thinks are fit to play the part of other characters. What I would object to is using my novel for politics or to push an agenda. Movies are meant for entertainment and should stay that way. I would prefer my characters and the story be adhered to when the movie is made.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Writing a book is not an easy task. There will be times when you will want to quit due to life or due to writer’s block. It is normal to have those feelings, but the secret is to never give up. Just persevere by researching and recording your thoughts. Also, if you are writing a book based on historical facts, please make sure that they are correct, and research each fact thoroughly. Editing is another step in the process, which has to be done. Go through what your editors have done because they too make mistakes. Afterall, editors too are human. Finally, it is always good to have a fresh pair of eyes to proofread your work. A fresh pair of eyes can spot mistakes you or your editor haven’t spotted. When suggestions are given to you, consider all suggestions and then make an informed decision whether to follow them or not. After the novel has been published, remember that you are not going to please everyone. So, read the bad reviews and decide if you can incorporate any changes into your next novel or when you revise your current novel at a later date. It is a learning process which never ends.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
While reading a novel, try and understand what the author is trying to tell you. Most people just want everything to be exciting from the get-go, but life is not always like that. So, most authors try and make their story close to real life as possible. Also, try and figure out the message the author is trying to convey. Many lessons can be learned from the characters and also the various incidences mentioned in the novel.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now, I am reading a book from a fellow Black Rose author. It is called The Blue Rat.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really, but I know it was a Hardy Boys book. I used to read Reader’s Digest before that.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Well, like with anybody else, funny situations make me laugh. I guess very sad situations make me cry. Depends on what they are. Probably the death of a loved one would make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Probably Agatha Christie because she inspired me to write this novel and some people who have read it tell me that my novel has that Agatha Christie feel to it. Her books helped me tremendously to improve my vocabulary, and also encouraged me to read other genres and authors as well. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is another author I would like to meet and thank. Both of their works brought out the ideas that I developed to write A Bloody Hot Summer.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, of course!Writing novels is a big-time hobby of mine. I like collecting coins, stamps and anything old. I also like gardening. Watching movies and documentaries and listening to music are other hobbies of mine, which help me relax. Exercising is another way to relax and stimulate the brain cells.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t have a TV since I think paying for cable is a waste of money and the shows are getting terrible as the days go by. If I watch something, I watch documentaries on youtube and I love action-packed films or films based on history. Since I like different cultures, I like watching foreign language films and, in a way, it helps me learn important facts of that culture or country. I recently watched the World War 1 based action film1917, and it was very good.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I like ethnic cuisines like Indian, Italian, Asian. I am not fussy when it comesto food. I like trying various cuisines. I prefer a vegetarian diet since it is healthier.
Colors, I guess red, light blue and yellow.
Music – I like songs from 50s to the 80s. I also like some songs from the 90s and very rarely do I like modern music. Seems like music like the TV shows and movies have gotten worse as the years go by.That is why I like music from yesteryears as I think people had more talent back then, and their voices were genuine and not altered by a computer.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would dread a future where I would not be able to write. I think I was born to be a writer. But, coming to your question, I would like to garden or travel. The world has so much to offer and I love going to places with a lot of history. Europe for one is a good place. I also love nature and animals, and I would love to garden. I like growing plants and nurturing them. Gardening, like writing relaxes me,
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Probably putting my affairs in order and telling people I love that I love them, and also speaking my mind about certain things. What can anyone do to me? I will be dead in a few hours.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
‘Writing was in his blood and he loved writing’. Besides that, obviously my name, birth and death dates.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I mostly tweet on Twitter about any updates or discounts.Please feel free to check my website (just redone it) and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Trevordsilvaauthor/
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/Trevor-DSilva/e/B076P45WRM/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1