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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Darren Charles talks about what inspired him to write his new book, Retro Ride, and how he hopes to help his readers learn from their pasts to improve their futures.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Darren Charles about his life and career, the creative work that went into his new book, Retro Ride, and the experiences that inspired him to write it.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Darren Charles and I have been writing in various formats for some years, but had never contemplated writing a novel. I changed this in 2020 when I started writing Retro Ride, which was a great outlet for the creative frustration I was experiencing at the time. I published the book on my fiftieth birthday in December 2022 as that was the target I had set myself to have it completed by.
I have worked in Communications / PR for some time and in another life have written drama for the BBC and produced numerous corporate production scripts, speeches, promotional literature, etc.
Born in Liverpool, I now spend most of my time in beautiful Perthshire with my wife and beloved black Labrador, Basil. I love the city I was born and grew up in in but as I’ve matured, being in Perthshire has freed my creativity and cleared the cache of my brain to enable ideas and words to flow easier. It is a location where I can write clearly and without anxiety and this facilitates escaping into another world as I intersperse writing with walking around “Big Tree Country”. It inspires, it enhances, it delivers.
I still work remotely (I’m not rich!) for a large organisation but have recently reduced this to part-time to try and focus on my writing as I am writing a sequel to my first novel which follows the lives of other characters featured in the original Retro Ride.
When I complete my second book I plan to travel around to book fairs and events selling the books and talking to people about it and promote the unique journey that the book can take the reader on.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
The idea for Retro Ride had been going around in my head for many years, in fact for over twenty!
When did you take a step to start writing?
Covid-19 and lockdown was the final act which made me sit down and start writing it in 2020.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Just over 2 years, I admire anybody who has been on the journey of writing a novel as it can be very challenging, but the concept of listening to people’s interpretation of your work after reading it, is very rewarding.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Just over two years to actually write but several decades for the idea to come to the boil!
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Retro Ride?
During COVID I seen so many people distressed, so I wrote Retro Ride as an idea for individuals to gain a new focus in their life moving forward. It is a mix of fiction and self-help to some degree, I just wanted people to have an option of facing their future by rediscovering their past and coming to terms with any unanswered questions. Its also an escape from the pressures we are all under in our modern lives, encouraging people to think differently and find hope they may have missed from their past life.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Retro Ride?
Retro Ride is a journey for the reader, and I encourage the audience to think practically when following the protagonist’s journey and then devising their own Retro Ride. It is embedded in reality, so the fictional element is very relatable. The non-fictional element – the Retro Ride concept itself and accompanying matrix – is there as a guide for people as they undertake a Retro Ride themselves. Ensuring I kept it “real” was the biggest challenge of all so that the reader could relate to the character and their motivation for undertaking a Retro Ride in the first instance.
What was your research process for Retro Ride?
Life! The book is about rediscovery of your own past, answering some of the difficult questions that we may have buried in our minds, it poses the question What if? to our past. It recreates, redefines and rediscovers some of the key turning points of our lives, and each individual will shape their own Retro Ride so no two are ever the same.
How did you plan the structure of Retro Ride?
I had an outline of the Retro Ride concept and the elements which form it (it’s like a Bucket List but is retrospective), then I developed the characters and fleshed out the narrative. I didn’t have a full structure or plan however at any point for the individual chapters, as I like to let the story bowl along by itself to some degree and take me on adventures as I am writing it.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Retro Ride need?
Retro Ride went through numerous drafts and I was fortunate enough to hire an excellent proof-reader who really helped bring the book to life. It needed a lot of reviewing and I will be forever grateful to that proof-reader for identifying the corrections which I would have missed.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Just roll with it, put the pen on the paper or stop staring at the flashing cursor and type. Anything, just get started. As someone once said “A writer writes, always.” Many of my chapters started in this way and I then reshaped them to serve the protagonist’s journey and character arcs as I went along.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I am currently scripting the follow up, Retro Ride 2, but don’t want to give the game away as if I reveal the title it may spoil the ending of the first book for those who are currently reading it.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am very proud of Retro Ride and hope some readers undertake their own Retro Ride journey, after being entertained by the experiences of the main character, Robert Bailey.
It was well worth the effort as it has helped me immensely in dealing with some of my own demons, losses and loves.
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