Today I welcome Geoff LePard. Geoff has a new book of poetry out today.
Hi, Geoff. I am pleased to have you visit. First, a few questions.
Why do you write?
It’s a bit trite to say because I have to, but there is some truth in that. I guess we writers all discover our urge to write at different times and in different ways.
For me, it never occurred to me that it could be a pleasure, until I took a course at Marlborough summer school in 2006. The course was ‘Write a ten minute radio play in a week’.
The woman who ran the course was a piece of work—all her lessons were exampled with extracts from her books which she tried to flog us—but she did teach things like show don’t tell, character traits, dialogue and narrative arc. It also became apparent that it was fun to think up stories.
That said, it also felt a little like something grown-ups didn’t do. That’s stupid, because there are a great number of great writers who are patently grown-ups as well. However making up things was for kids, right?
That was the first of several preconceptions and hang ups I had to overcome, but the biggest one, which I hadn’t realised at the time was my father. Dad was the family poet and writer. If anything creative was called for he produced it. And then he died in March 2005 and a year later I embarked on my writing career. I can’t now see it stopping either.
I’m glad you overcame that idea, Geoff. As you said, making things up is fun.
Why do you write poetry?
Rightly this is a different question. I can write fiction without much effort. I write poetry because something demands I do it.
Countless are the times I’ve sat and wanted to write some poetry but I couldn’t. I suppose it’s a form of poet block, but mostly it’s because I need to engage emotionally with the subject.
In this book I’m publishing, there are poems based around those written by the great and the good. Ostensibly, there’s no emotional connection but dig deeper and every subject matter…er…matters and that’s because the original mattered.
Take ‘If’ Kipling’s famous, if not best poem. I’ve used it to poke fun at the modern obsessions and ended it with a rather simplistic point that, when written, it was all about being a man, whereas being a human, of whatever gender is really at the heart of the issue today.
I hope it’s funny but I also want people to understand the message. Poems need to be of their time.
Similarly Larkin’s ‘This be the verse’ denigrates parenthood and having children. My take refutes Larkin’s passing the blame for ones ills onto ones parents. It’s something I’ve heard in my family (not my close family, happily) and it grates. So, using his structure and I hope reflecting his humour, I challenge his basic premise, because it’s important to me.
In the second half, the sonnets, there are several love poems about those I hold dear, ones about issues such as climate change and the obsession with foreign holidays, etc.
Some are just fun—those dealing with sport are a reflection of my own obsessions and reflect, I hope, that my disposition is naturally sunny side up, but some carry an edge, even if wrapped with humour.
Sonnets are a form I’ve not tried. I keep telling myself I should do so. I like your idea of using the poetry of some of the greats as a jumping off point, too,
Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere. I have come to realise I am fortunate that ideas fizz and bubble away all the time. I can look around me now, a desk strewn with paper, a tea mug, an unwashed pudding bowl, and come up with a story.
I’ve written several books, novels as well as anthologies and each story starts with a simple idea. This probably reflects my writing process. I’m a sort of pantser—no plotting, only that’s not totally true.
What is true is that, for every story, I just have a beginning. I have no idea where it will go, just that I like the idea of heading off with the idea and seeing what happens.
That’s the seat of the pants bit. But if I think the story has legs and is worth developing, I begin thinking about where it’s going. Eventually I will plot it to an end, usually in my head. I rarely write the ideas down and some brilliant plot twists have been lost that way.
Que sera, sera. I do enjoy prompts, though, a word, an idea, a picture. It’s incredible to me how many stories there are hidden in a picture.
Sometimes people read my story and look at the picture and think ‘really? how?’ The answer is many and varied but usually it’s based on my determination not to be obvious.
A picture of someone weeping tends to trigger lots of stories about this person’s loss and heart ache. I’d prefer to consider it from the point of view of the water molecule in the tear, training for this big moment, practising its cheek sliding, annoyed its been teamed up with some drip who’ll most probably make the tear form a cube, all the while wanting to make its little lachrymose parents proud as it cascades down the cheek to it’s version of nirvana. It’s more interesting after all.
I’m a pantster, too, Geoff. I think it’s more fun than plotting in detail. Where the story is going, I usually know, though, but the twists and turns are often a surprise to me. Hopefully that means they’ll surprise the reader, too.
Thank you for your answers. Now to let people know about your new book.
All of life in one easy couplet
To write poetry I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100 and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by reading Shakespeare’s gems has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.
A bit more about Geoff.
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.
The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015
Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.
Buster and Moo is about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.
Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.
When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.
Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poerty selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion.
Link up with Geoff on his Amazon Author page