On Wednesdays on social media, people use the hashtag #WriterWednesday to chat about all things author, book and writing, including authors promoting their own work. As we love to support self-published authors, we thought we’d join in and we will be featuring a UK self-published author every Wednesday on the website. This week, we met Philip Watling to find out more...
Please tell us about yourself; when did you first become interested in writing?
I have always liked writing, especially in the days when I could write. Now all I do is type :-P Sadly though, other than letters or exams (“the dinosaur went for a walk on the plains…” – no wonder I nearly failed A Level Biology!) I had never written anything. My first ever real story was not a story at all though. Okay, it was – it was a real story. 'Flight of a Lifetime' is a real autobiographical story about me!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
In my first hospital my first nurse advised my parents to get me to write a journal of day-to-day activities in hospital – a memory for me if I lived a remembrance for them if I died. Of course I couldn’t write so Dictaphone notes were made in my second hospital. By my third hospital I was given access to a computer so notes were typed and the first hospital was written (typed) from memory. Later I was having a holiday with family friends. As the journal was passed around the table the laughter grew louder. It was the overall consensus by the end that ‘you should get that turned into a book.’ So I did!
Writing was easy though, publishing harder... Yet I was sent a contract three weeks after submitting my manuscript! Yes, it was self-publishing, but still pretty quick I am told. Then there was the ebook published six years later. Both are available on Amazon (of course) and I persuaded my local Waterstones to stock it - three copies anyway! It is also in my local library and was in the hospital library when I volunteered there.
What is your latest book called, what is it about and what was the inspiration behind the book?
No current (writing) projects, but I have an idea to write ‘the sequel’ about my eight months in China with my fiancée/wife; a book about elephants has been postulated; maybe even one about King Arthur; plus my wife and I might write one together about mental illness.
What has been the greatest moment in your writing career?
Maybe not greatest, but proudest moment was confirmation that I would have my book published. Meeting Richard Branson on the helipad of The Royal London Hospital, as Virgin took over sponsorship of HEMS [medical] helicopter, was pretty good too. To think I once had his private email address till I lost it :-(
Besides writing, what hobbies or interests do you enjoy in your spare time?
My life is a quiet one since my massive head injury. I am deemed incapable of work though did fall into a wonderful form of volunteering, until I was banned! Having said that I do work I won’t say doing what, but basically I get paid to talk to people ;-) When not working or volunteering - which is most of the time - I am in the gym; on the computer; enjoying free meals with friends; chatting in the town centre; playing with Destiny (our cat) or looking after my wife.
Which novelists do you admire?
My all time favourite novelist has to be Frederick Forsyth whose books I started reading aged 11, though favourite book would be 'Bodyguard of Lies' about the Enigma code and 'Ultra' by Anthony Cave Brown. A close second would be 'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Bradley from my favourite genre – fantasy. Katherine Kerr and Robert A Heinlein also rate highly. As does Wilbur Smith whose sagas about The Courtneys in Africa was momentous. Sadly I find it hard to read these days :'(
What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
I don’t think anyone ever gave me advice about writing though after smirking when my O Level English teacher said many of us needed to pull our socks up, he told me that I needed to put my shoes on! Perhaps more practical advice I would give others is to write from the heart.