Today we welcome Ben Hatch into the Sunday Spotlight. Make yourself comfortable, Ben! We WLM members are a nosy lot and you could be here for some time… Ben will pick 2 winners for ecopies of The P45 Diaries at the end of the day.
Alan Parks I’m getting in first – What came first, the adventures, or the idea to write books?
Woofie I have already bought yer book so I can’t win nuffink, but I love yer work
Andy Ben, how are you able to write books, keep on top if your PR AND be a great family man. I’m searching for some sort of magic formula….
Maeve Which job did you like best? before you were fired x
Jill Hi Ben Hatch The E45 Diaries is fiction and I’ve only read the sample pages on Amazon as yet, looks good and reviews are excellent, but was interested to know how a writer stands, legally, when naming well known people in their book, when it’s fiction. You did make a well known magician look a bit lame (a sentiment with which I totally agree) can he sue for defamation of character or libel? Because those thoughts stay with a reader and using real names does blur the line between fact and fiction.
Cherry Hi Ben. Great to have you here in the Sunday Spotlight. What gave you the idea to write The P45 diaries?
Anne Hello Ben – what an interesting guy you are – so many questions so little time! My first is…. I don’t ‘Tweet’ so how can I find out what the cure for the common cold is
Victoria Twead Andy Leeks, good question!
Ben Hatch The first adventure that was the basis of Are We Nearly There Yet? An 8000 mile road trip round the UK came about because my wife was commissioned to write a guidebook. We were away five months touring virtually every town and city in the country. It was an amazing trip. The kids were about 1 and 3. In the end my wife was too busy to write the guidebook. I should say she is a travel writer. So i wrote it instead. It wasn’t my idea to write a travelogue about the trip. It was my guidebook editor’s idea. So the adventures came first Alan
Jill Sorry Ben I meant P45 good job someone’s on the ball Cherry Gregory (I was thinking moisturising cream).
Ben Hatch Thanks Woofie .
Ben Hatch Very difficult as you know Andy. Right now i am typing this while the kids are playing downstairs. I suppose the balance is created by making sure every summer we go an amazing adventure. We spend two to three months together touring a new country. That helps bind the family together. Of course it also gets easier as the kids get older and less demanding. I noticed that writing Road to Rouen this year
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Ben Hatch Hi Maeve. I think my favourite job before writing books was probably being a painter and decorator. I used to take a radio with me and i got some odd looks when i tuned it to Start the Week with Melvyn Bragg on radio 4 and start to roll the ceiling with Matt white emulsion
Ben Hatch Hi Jill, i really hope he sees it as a bit if fun. The definition is i would have to lower him in the estimation of his peers. It’s doubtful I’ve done that and like i say it is fiction.
Ben Hatch Hi Cherry. The book is based loosely on what a nightmare teenager i was. At the time of writing it my mum became very sick and that somehow became woven into the story. I also needed the mum story to soften jay who otherwise would be almost too heartless and insensitive. Basically i was such a git i had to invent an excuse for myself!
Cherry Thank you. The book sounds great!
Woofie What Jill sez and also the opposite.. how do writers go about naming real ppl in their real memoirs?
Suzanne No question, but I’m driving my Husband mad reading him extracts from Road to Rouen when he’s trying to sleep! Then there’s the chuckling. We have two children & can relate to so many of your situations (not sure if that’s good or bad lol). Thanks for a great book
Ben Hatch Hi Anne. Lovely to meet you too. Now this is not scientifically proven but it works for me. This is what you do. You make yourself sneeze a dozen times. It triggers your immune system (am i really saying this) and it helps you fight off the onset of a cold. I haven’t had a cold in 15 years. Trouble is to make yourself sneeze you have to stick your finger up your nose. There, i had no idea i would be answering medical questions. Xx
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Ben Hatch Woofie, you have to be very careful about using real names. Don’t imply any dishonesty for example. But if its a bit of fun that’s different
Anne Thanks Doctor Ben I might give it a go
Ben Hatch Thanks Suzanne that’s lovely to hear. Hope it stays that way x
Ben Hatch Go for it Anne. I’m sure my Nobel Prize is in the post x
Cherry Gregory Are you working on a current project, Ben?
Lorraine I am sorry and please forgive me …but I have no idea who you are
Ben Hatch Cherry Gregory i am waiting for the green light to start writing No Place like Rome, the follow up to Road to Rouen about our travels in Italy earlier this year
Ben Hatch That’s OK Lorraine why would you?
Cherry Gregory And how long do you estimate it will take to write, right from the first drafts until going to the printers?
Alan Parks Why wait Ben? Didnt you self pub p45?
Jill Ben, are you working on anything at the moment, and which genre do you prefer to write?
Lorraine Oh right yes I do know who you are now …and I am going to get ROAD TO ROUEN in the new year it is on my list….my husband and I know ROUEN quite well
Ben Hatch Yes i did Alan. But it had previously been published by Orion. But if my current publisher or nobody else comes forward i will happily do that.
Ben Hatch Hi Jill I’m working on a sitcom adaption of The P45 Diaries with the BBC. It’s in development at the moment but there is a long way to go still. Also getting my notes sorted out to start No Place Like Rome, the Road to Rouen follow up. Happy Christmas x
Ben Hatch Hope you enjoy it Lorraine. Lovely city Rouen. Terrible one way system!!
Ben Hatch Cherry Gregory in reckon 6 months. It takes almost as long again to reach the shops after that
Lorraine Yes it is lovely as you can see from my surname my dad was French…look forward to reading the book….MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU xx
Cherry Gregory Thanks, Ben. You must be very efficient and quite a speedy writer…well done!
Valerie Robson And I, as a reader not a writer, would like to be able to read more memoirs! Life can be tough living in Africa! Have a great Holiday Season… X
Micki Stokoe Hi Ben! You obviously enjoy comedy – who is your favourite comic?
Ben Hatch You to Lorraine
Ben Hatch Thanks. You too xx
Ben Hatch Hi Micki Stokoe, at the moment i love Sean Locke and David Mitchell. I’d make a point of watching anything with them in. Also i saw Richard herring at the Brighton festival. If you get a chance see him. He was brilliant. Clever but v funny too. I cried with laughter
Ben Hatch Cherry Gregory i didn’t use to be. Time pressure has made me this way. Planning can massively cut corners too . I didn’t use to plan. Now i always do x
Lorraine By the way maybe a good lead player in your sit come would be DAVID JASON….just a thought being he was so successful in his others
Elisabeth Ben Hatch likes my comments yessss
Lorraine Sorry sit com…not come
Elisabeth Kruch And I agree about Rouen, lovely city but terrible traffic systems and it smells too
Micki Stokoe Thanks Ben – I’ll keep an eye open for Richard Herring! Have you written any other screen plays, or is the adaptation of your book your first venture?
Anne I loved reading your biography and am looking forward to seeing P45 Diaries on the TV. One of my favourite things is cheese – any kind except smoked, what is yours?
Ben Hatch That’s funny. I love David Jason. He has also given me lovely quotes down the years for my books. One of the best comedy character actors in the country. I always had him down to play my dad in The P45 Diaries. Weirdly he knew my dad. My dad gave him his first radio comedy work. In fact little known fact – his walk as Insp Frost he copied from my dad!
Susan Do you just travel during the summer or are your kids homeschooled?
Ben Hatch Anne Durrant we have a lot in common then. Same here – love all cheese except smoked. DO NOT SMOKE CHEESE!
Ben Hatch Hi Micki Are We Nearly There Yet? Has been optioned by Island Pictures so i am hoping that becomes a movie. But i won’t be writing the screenplay. I am hoping that will be Kirk jones who directed nanny McPhee.
Elisabeth Ben what is your favourite French word ?
Susan Is P45andthe Lawnmower Celebrity the same book.
Ben Hatch Hi Susan No they go to regular school. It’s now just in the summer we go away. Stealing the odd week either side of term as well x
Ben Hatch Fromage Elisabeth
Susan Who doesn’t love David Jason
Lorraine He come’s from FINCHLEY where I came from…my sister went to school with his sister
Susan When was Road to Rouen published? I wish I read it while living in Germany-it would have made traveling in France more enjoyable.
Anne When we were on holiday on Tenerife we went on a coach trip to Lorro Park. It was my grandaughter aged 3 – first coach trip – all the way there she was shouting from the back of the bus to where I was sitting a few rows up – ‘are we nearly there yet Nana?’ This went on for an hour – I kept saying ‘just round the next bend’ eventually everyone on the coach was answering her in unison. All day as we were walking round the park everyone was coming up and saying ‘are we nearly there yet Nana?’ – it was just so funny – luckily she slept all the way back
Elisabeth English is not my mother tongue but when I read your book it feels as if you are in the room talking to me. Strange feeling.
Ben Hatch Just round the next bend is actually a brilliant title too. That might have given me an idea Anne
Ben Hatch Elisabeth that’s exactly what i am aiming for so that’s wonderful to hear x
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Anne We have more in common. Cheese, are we nearly there yet, I used to have a Passat and my toenails are the worst in the world. How is the ‘ ungovernable toenail.’
Ben Hatch Only this year Susan Jackson
Ben Hatch it’s a small world
Ben Hatch It’s massive Anne x
Susan Is P45 and the Lawnmower Celebrity the same book–different title?
Ben Hatch Yes Susan, well spotted. The has been rewritten however with new scenes x
George Mahood Hi Ben. How are you finding the experience of self-publishing with P45 Diaries? Must be strange having more control over your pricings etc?
Anne Hubby and I have just retired – We have bought a campervan – we intend to drive to Corfu, Greece next March for 6 months with our dog Poppy. We are renting an apartment there and just going to walk, swim, eat and generally chill out – reading all the books I have downloaded onto my kindle. Back to the question – have you ever driven to Greece?
Laura I’m still reading Road to Rouen, so if it’s not a spoiler did you ever get self -cleaning glass for the skylight and how do I avoid your original builder?
Gemma What would your dream job be?
Gemma Do you ever regret traveling round britain with your children or so you think it has helped them as they have grown up?
Ben Hatch Hi George Mahood I’m loving it actually. If I want to change something it is done within a few hours (adding a review, priuce change). If I need that done through a publisher it cane take two weeks and sometimes never gets done. That’s down to Amazon I think, which works faster for authors than publishers. It is a strange one though as it was originally published by Orion. So it’s half self pub and half published in a way
Ben Hatch Yes Anne, we hired a car there a few years ago and drove around a fair bit. The only tricky thing is stopping every few minutes to take a picture of something beautiful. Hope you gave a great trip x
Ben Hatch Hi Gemma, my dream job would naturally be a rockstar. Either that or I’d run an ultra cool pop cheese shop
Ben Hatch And as for regretting driving around Britain,Gemma Murphy-Sanderson. Not at all. It was an amazing experience. I still look back fondly on it. One other side affect of these trips is that our kids Charlie and Phoebe are amazingly close. They have spent whole summers with just each other to play with. Now they play together very well and don’t fight (much!) Though they hate driving now. Everywhere I drive they ask immediately how far it is as if I am about to drive them to Croatis or something.
Ben Hatch Laura, no we never did and as for avoiding the dodgy builder I think the secret is never to give them a penny upfront. Only ever pay a builder for what he’s done. No matter what the excuse they give you about buying materials etc just pay them for the work.
Joe Cawley Any more travels planned, Ben?
Gemma Murphy-Sanderson Any new books in the pipeline?
Ben Hatch Hi Joe Cawley Yes I am planning where to go this summer right now? I;d love to go to America or Australia. I’m sure we could get into a lot of scrapes with the wildlife there. We managed to have an incident with a bear in Italy! Imagine what might happen in those countries.
Joe Cawley Cool. The more fear and turmoil the better!
George Mahood When you’re writing do you have any sort of routine for the time(s) of day that you write?
Ben Hatch Yes Gemma, I am planning to re-release The International Gooseberry in 2014 and after that No Place Like Rome will be out.
Ben Hatch exactly Joe.
Ben Hatch I don’t know about you George but until I have a deadline I mess about a lot on twitter, facebook, eating lumps of cheese, watching Krufts, anything etc, but when I get the deadline then I am pretty disciplined. I start at 5am then and work through until the kids get home. I might do another hour after they’ve gone to bed. It comes from spending eight years writing the same book. I know how the time can slip away if you’re easy on yourself.
Joe Cawley Sounds v familiar, Ben!
Gill Hi, Ben. Which part of the writing process do you find most difficult (after getting started, that is!) ?
Ben Hatch Hi Gill Like you say I hate starting. I don’t enjoy the whole first draft in fact. It always reads so badly. It makes it a grind getting to the end. But the joy, and when it all comes together, is the rewriting. I spend longer doing this than anything else. I’m a not massive fan of getting editor’s notes back either mind x
Sue Hi Ben! Do you get a little voice in your head telling you what to write when you write fiction? I certainly had that experience when I wrote mine! Maybe I’m just weird!
Linda Kovic-Skow Hello Ben Hatch What a great interview. Many of my questions have already been answered, but here are two focused on Road to Rouen. What two places in France did you enjoy visiting the most and why? Do have any pictures you can share?
Ben Hatch Hi Sue , I wish I had a little voice but no, to be honest it’s a bit of a slog. Trying things out and seeing what works. It is great though when halfway through a book something happens – some little grain of truth – that inspires you to go back and rewrite the book around it. I don’t think it comes naturally to me. You sound very lucky x
Ben Hatch Hi Linda Kovic-Skow, My favourite areas of France were the Pyrenees and Brittany. Not the most fashionable but the most beautiful I’d say. I do have pictures. Here is one of the town of Auray, I think it was
Ben Hatch’s photo.
Ben Hatch This also is in Brittany
Ben Hatch’s photo.
Ben Hatch And this Carcassone not so far from the Pyrenees
Ben Hatch’s photo.
Ben Hatch I feel like I am showing my holiday snaps now though…
Karen Hi Ben, I am also from Brighton. Which is the favourite place you have lived in?
Linda Kovic-Skow Thank you Ben Hatch. I’m not familiar with the Pyrenees or Brittany, but they look lovely. There are so many more places I’d love to explore in the world…I think you would agree. Along those lines, do you have a special destination you’d like to visit someday?
Susan Well, I can’t wait for the show to be made of P45–hope it doesn’t take forever!! I don’t guess they are thinking of a name yet?
Susan Ben Hatch, are you there or are you busy eating cheese?
Ben Hatch Hi Susan Just finished. An eating the last bit of cheese in fact. It hasn’t got that far yet. Working title is The Lawnmower Celebrity
Cherry Gregory Ben, what sort of books do you like to read?
Ben Hatch Hi Linda Kovic-Skow, I’d really love to drive the trans Canadian highway
Susan That is cool since that is what you originally titled your book.
Susan Or the highway to Key West–I love the Keys!!
Susan I am going to do the train trip across Canada next year
Ben Hatch Cherry Gregory, my favourite books always seem to have a strong first person voice. I tend to prefer books that are based in reality. I like to read books that move me and make me laugh.
Elisabeth Ben thank you for your kindness you have been available ALL day !
Julia I have just downloaded three of you books for the holidays……just hope I get the peace and quiet to read them! Looking forward to it!
Susan By Ben Hatch, thanks for listening and responding to this lot!!
Cherry Gregory Yes, thanks Ben. Great answers to our questions!
Sue Ben, you’ve been fantastic! Thank you for sticking around and do help yourself to some wine from Henry Butterfield’s wine cellar
Victoria Twead Thanks so much for fielding our questions,Ben! Can I ask you a question or are you eating cheese?
Ben Hatch Thanks Elisabeth, Susan, Cherry, Sue. It was fun. I hope you enjoy them Julia. Let me know how they go. Yes Victoria, what is it?
Anne Thanks Ben – have enjoyed your answers very much xxx
Suzanne My daughter’s best friend & her family have moved close to Carcassone. We are hoping to stay next summer
Victoria Twead Of all your books, which is your personal favourite and why? And do you have a cover design in mind when you write, or do you leave it to others? Sorry, 2 questions…
Karen I asked a while ago… That I also live in Brighton. Which is your favourite place/town that you have lived in?
Ben Hatch I don’t have a cover design in mind, no. I am hopeless with covers. My favourite would have to be The P45 Diaries. It was my first novel. I dedicated it to my mum who had died just before I finished it. After having being sacked from 29 jobs before I became an author it was a shame she didn’t see me actually accomplish anything. It was through her unstinting confidence in me throughout these failures that I managed to have the will power to write the book. Thanks everyone for the great questions. It’s been fun.
Ben Hatch Sorry Karen, I didn’t see that question before. My favourite place in all the world is Brighton. I love living here. I felt at home as soon as I moved here almost ten years ago. My favourite place in Brighton itself is Hove Lawns with the sea on one side and the regency Brunswick buildings the other.
Karen No problem Ben. I live up near Asda in Hollingbury so over look the downs. But can fully understand why you love Hove Lawns.
Karen Thank you Ben for answering so many interesting questions. It’s been fantastic reading your answers. I just need more hours in the day to read your books xxx
Ben Hatch I know where you mean Karen. I used to live on Lansdowne Place in a small flat on the 2nd floor. It had oblique seaviews across from the lawns. I used to wheel the kids up and down in their pram along the seafront every day hardly able to believe I had moved to such a beautiful place. It might have something to do with that too
Victoria Twead Thank you again for coming to talk to usBen Hatch. Some brilliant questions and answers today! When you have time, could you cast your eye down the thread, please, and choose 2 questioners? Let me know who they are and I’ll send them ecopies of The P45 Diaries.
Karen I can see the Chattari from my house on the South Downs. Now your children are growing up, it’s a beautiful walk up to the old Indian monument
Victoria Twead Ben has chosen two questioners to win ecopies of P45 Diaries. Congratulations to Karen and Sue!
Karen Knight Wow thank you very much Ben. That’s very kind of you. Happy Christmas to you and your family xxx
Sue Clamp Oh wow! Thanks, Ben! I shall look forward to reading that Merry Christmas to you and yours from me too! x
Karen Well done xx
Sue And you, Karen
Bambi Well. Looks like I’ve missed another good one. Always late to the party.
Micki Well done Sue & Karen!
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