We don’t have many male writers writing for us, but one who has become more regular over the last year or two is Keith Havers.
I’ve invited him to be my Writer of the Week to talk about his story Market Forces in our April 14 issue.
Market Forces is set in wartime, as many of your stories are. You’re too young for personal experience, so why are you drawn to the period?
I grew up in the 1950s while the war was still very much in the forefront of the public consciousness. There were numerous war films, TV programmes and books. My dad had been in the infantry, several uncles were in the forces and my mum worked in munitions. Boys’ comics such as Hotspur and Victor featured adventure stories about fictional war heroes.
This story takes a different approach, with dodgy Uncle John. Did you set out with John’s character in mind or did he evolve with the story? As I was reading I wondered if he was based on anyone you knew…
The character definitely came first and I formed the story around him. I wanted to write about someone who was a bit of a rogue but not too dishonest. Then I saw an old TV comedy about a guy who joins a band and becomes involved with gangsters during the blitz. It gave me the idea of wartime spivs and the story developed from there. I certainly don’t know anyone like that.
You’re one of our few male writers and, unlike some men, choose to publish under your own name. Was it a conscious decision or something you gave no thought to?
For this I have to thank writer Bead Roberts. Bead ran a workshop on short stories at Nottingham Writers’ Club several years ago when I was just beginning to submit to magazines. I asked her opinion about writing under a female pseudonym and she advised me, with no hesitation, to write under my own name. Shortly after that workshop I received my first magazine acceptance and I’ve e-mailed Bead every year since then to keep her informed of my progress
I know you belong to a writing group. How helpful is that for your writing?
I’ve already mentioned Nottingham Writers’ Club which kick-started my writing successes. I’m also a member of Trowell Writers Club whose creative exercises have inspired some of my Friend stories. I would definitely recommend any aspiring writer to join a group if there is one in your area.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Laptop in the back bedroom. My chair faces the wall but the window facing out to the back garden is immediately to my right
And a PS: What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Persistence is the key. Keep sending those manuscripts out. Never give up.
Keith has his own blogspot here