Hello there everyone.
Stay tuned later tonight for Day Three of NanoPoblano, where I write more poetry (it’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it).
For now though, here is your latest installment in the Author Interview Series.
My guest is author Tom Hocknell, a very talented writer who has written for many prominent magazines. He is going to give us the low down on his thrilling debut novel and his writerly influences.
Thanks for reading friends and enjoy the show.
Hi there Tom, thank you for being our guest here today, we’re really looking forward to what you have to say.
Let’s start with your debut novel “The Life Assistance Agency.“ Your tagline for the book is ”Do you want to live forever?” Ask me at different times of the day and the answer to this question will differ depending on whether there is tea, coffee, wine, biscuits and/or donuts available to help me through the bad/boring patches. So what is this mysterious agency that your protagonist Ben Ferguson-Cripps is keen to join? What are their goals and motives? Please tell us more about your intriguing novel and give us some background information to consider, while we ponder if we really would like to live as an immortal forever.
The proprietor of the Life Assistance Agency, Scott Wildblood, is the sort of man who sets up life assistance agencies before researching into the need for one. Of course on paper it’s perfect. An organisation that has no modus operandi, so therefore avoids painting itself into a corner, (although will do so if a client pays enough) but on the other hand it sounds more like a business plan half-heard during a pub lock-in, which it was. Much that it pains me to say, it’s a slightly farcical take on the road trip template; as I redefine ‘slightly’. If you like Springsteen, like Scott does, you’ll like this book.
It was also influenced by Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. He only wrote 2 and a half of these novels, which I always wanted more of. Of course I’m cautious when aligning myself with a Great like Adams. The Life Assistance Agency is basically a bit like Douglas Adams, but not as good. This would be a cover quote had someone else said it, but it was me.
Ben Ferguson-Cripps’ enthusiasm for joining the agency has more to do with the absence of any other options than a real commitment to assisting. As Scott is only too aware of, Ben is himself in need of urgent assistance, and it’s this, which steers the narrative arc of the story.
The Agency find themselves with a missing professor obsessed with Dr. Dee, and his distraught wife who wishes him found. Dr. Dee was an Elizabethan alchemist Dr. Dee, which history records as having pursued immortal life through the scrying of angels. I was fascinated by the idea of someone having achieved this, and how a person might feel about immortality 400 years in; particularly when the first 360 involved there being nothing on television.
You also have a website over at “Idle blogs of an idle fellow”. What sort of posts and vignettes can we expect to find in your neck of the woods if we travel into the realm of the idle fellow?
I blog at Blogs of an Idle Fellow – in the manner in which Jerome K Jerome might have, were he writing in 2016, and not 1886. He wrote the Idle thoughts of an idle fellow, which was kind of blogging before the phrase had been invented. He famously said (at least in my world) that ‘What readers ask nowadays in a book is that it should improve, instruct, and elevate. This book wouldn’t elevate a cow. I cannot conscientiously recommend it for any useful purposes whatever’. His short, hilariously observational essays are a rather uncelebrated precursor to the blog. Not that I read blogs. I know this isn’t the sort of thing a blogger should admit, but they rarely interest me. Other than mine of course. And yours. The Idle blogs were always intended to cover the most random of subjects, but has settled into a blog about music and writing. With an ongoing Life Lessons series, which is basically the most useless skills that life teaches you, such as learning that there’s big distinction between having a healthy hedge, and a healthy hedge fund.
For more info it can be found here – Idle blogs of an idle fellow
If your novel was to be made into a film, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Ha. What a great question. R2D2 is an obvious shoe-in for absolutely no role in it at all, which is a shame. I’ve always seen Scott Wildblood as a variation on PG Wodehouse’s Freddie Threepwood, the sort of rakish dandy on whom life invariably shines its light, so I guess it would have to be someone like Ethan Hawke, who I greatly admire in terms of his writing, choice of scripts and hair. Although I’d rather this not to be the case, enough people have said that Ben reminds them of me, so I guess Ben would be played by me, or Bernard Sumner from New Order, so I can meet him.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
I’ve always said that the easiest place to be inspired is when you are furthest from a pen. So a raft adrift in the Pacific is probably the best place to be writing an unforgettable novel – at least it had better be, or you’ll never get the chance to write it down
The easiest thing is drinking tea while doing it, so long as it’s not stewed.
In all seriousness, I’m a terrible planner. I tend to make it up as I go along, which I guess IS what writer’s do, but some authors have post-it notes and huge pin boards of plot and character arcs. I don’t. But wish I did.
Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?
Easy. PG Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Neville Shute, all the writers who make your heart glow with anticipation as you pick up their book. I like escapism. The Life Assistance Agency is not the sort of book involving vast Irish families with dubious secrets and a silhouetted park bench on the cover. Who else? I love John Williams’ Stoner and Butcher’s Crossing – two genuine classics. Dave Eggers has it nailed these days, as does Jonathan Franzen, although Purity needed an editor. Paul Auster was always a favourite and of course Conan Doyle.
What sort of research did you do to write your book?
It’s the best and worst bit of writing. It’s perfect for procrastination, yet fascinating. These days I tend to make up the bits that need researching, and then go back later to double check the facts to discover that Colgate toothpaste actually wasn’t available in 1607.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I have answered this question in hindsight, as I don’t really know. I think I just loved reading and liked the idea of sitting down at a lovely desk chewing the end of a pencil.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
To be honest I don’t write regularly enough to get writer’s block. I have two young children, so I tend to write in paragraphs that I hope are leading somewhere and hopefully, at some point reaching a conclusion. Blogging also helps, as it taps into the thrill of not knowing what you’re going to write until you start
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Free time? What’s that? I guess I buy records I never get to play out because I’m not a DJ. Running after toddlers, going to the pub and studying. Exercise and studying.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
Since getting The Life Assistance Agency published everyone is asking if there’s a sequel. This is before they’ve even read it. So. It’s not even flattering! It’s more ‘don’t think you can rest on the laurels of this one.’ However, there is a sequel, currently called Blind Fury, which involves 80’s wrestling, musical one hit wonders, and wintery English seaside towns. What more could you ask for? Beyond a comprehensibly plot and the final act of course. Actually, I do have some idea of what happens. The end of the The Life Assistance Agency is (annoyingly) perfectly cued up for a sequel. So, regardless of demand I’m half way through a first draft.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Don’t do it.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for a very entertaining time Tom and we look forward to checking out more of your work.
Thomas Hocknell is a blogger at Idle Blogs of an Idle Fellow – in the manner in which Jerome K. Jerome might have, were he writing in 2016, and not 1886. The Life Assistance Agency is his first novel and is the journey of a blogger, Ben Ferguson-Cripps, who sets aside his literary failures to join the newly established Life Assistance Agency in pursuit of a missing professor obsessed with the Elizabethan alchemist Dr. Dee.
You can connect with Tom on the following Social Media platforms:-
Facebook:- Tom Hocknell – Author (FB)
Twitter:- @TomAngel1 (Twitter)
Website:- Idle blogs of an idle fellow – The Website of Tom Hocknell
You can buy his book here:-
Buy The Life Assistance Agency in Canada
Buy The Life Assistance Agency in the UK/Europe
Buy The Life Assistance Agency in the US/Rest of the World
Still want more? Well, there is an urgency in Tom’s protagonist to join the Life Assistance Agency because he lacks options in life and this urgency to do something with his life drives the narrative arc of the story. For more articles relating to the theme of ‘Urgent’ then check out the links below:-
1. 15 or older? Look for Work Experience – Daring To Jess
2. Bonkers Away – Urgent
3. Ideas for home decoration
4. Iamabloggertoo – It’s Urgent !
5. shame – The stars are dead
6. Thoughts From The Ledge – Urgent
7. Laurel Grove loves… – Sister, we need to talk
8. Fashion Emergency – Fifteen Minute Reads (Or Less)
9. Everyday Gyaan – The Value of Self Reliance #MondayMusings
10. Twilight – Making Sense of Complications
11. Good things come to those who wait? – LOVE WHAT YOU DO
12. The Reminder – AINSWORDLY
13. logicaldreams – Mission Gone Wrong 15: Troubleshooting Theo
14. Le Drake Noir – The urgent traffic
15. Take Me – aYoKa
16. Mainline_Matter – Urgent Repair
17. Dusk melts to Dawn – Leaking Ink
18. Not moving – Stories from A Closet of Errors
19. Hip Hip Hooray ! Happy Birthday! – Sunken Thought
20. Morning Dance Party – Modern Day Wonderland
21. Fictional Journey – False Call – 20 Minute Exercise
22. “I want it now” – Phoebe Louise
23. Urgent…URGENT…urgently – nanasaysblog
24. Waiting – I Want Sex – eddaz
25. Urgent! Taking Time to Be Still – There Are No Monks Here
26. i need this to be all better NOW – Spectres & Stardust
27. This slow fire – serenitynay
28. Michael J. Fite – How Can Urgency And Patience Help You Become Successful?
29. Jensiper’s Blog – okay Urgent
30. Arizona Bachelorette Party – Give Lovely
31. Delaney by Sarah Janks – New York Bridal – Sarah Janks
32. Part of a Whole – Oh, border!
33. Exit – True_George
34. 6 Green Slingback Heels For Your Shoe Collection – Custom Shoes Blog
35. Boat cruise Dubai marina – Best Books to Set the Dubai Mood – Yacht in Dubai
36. tuckedintoacorner – hunt + moon + urgency
37. Yosen SX Zero 50W – Vape Style Blog
38. The golden hours: sunrise and sunset
39. It’s OK to not be OK – alkasharmablog
40. Laura Joan – Urgency
41. Purposive Writer – The Urgency of Our Answer
42. Sasha’s Writings – Haste makes Waste!!
43. who am I? – Love it Now
44. Urgency of Breaking down – Sana Thoughts..
45. Fluffy Pool – Favours
46. Forgotten Dreams – Leigha Robbins
47. MY ENDURING BONES – Three Minutes
48. Urgency – My Domestic Gap Year
49. The Wait Is Optional – Kurilane
50. Lost Property Repository – An Urgent Revision
51. juantetcts – Daily Post:Urgent
52. Road Trips and Memories – The Chicken Grandma
53. My Simple Blog – Urgent
54. Missing You – xanthia rose
55. So Thankful for Friends – Day By Day Color Living
56. A Sense of Urgency – Facilius Dictu
57. Chocolate Dazed – Sense of Urgency
58. Grumpy Axolotl – Pandemonium
59. The Uprising – Mac’s World
60. One Full Minute – Call Me Incorrigible
61. Stutter-Stepping Heart – Urgent Dash for Books…
62. a bliss of birds – when I wake up frightened…
63. Jottings and Writings – Urgent
64. On an Exhale of a Deep Breath (A Poem) – stephentotheplate
65. Look Closely – Heaven’s Sunshine
66. kindergartenknowledge.com – Be Like The Wind. Calm, Yet Strong.
67. The DP Library – Meeting Opportunity with Excitement and Thrill
68. The message – The Inkwell
69. Willow’s Corner – Let’s Dance
70. wee ditty – Desire and Urgency and the Blogging Game
71. This is Another Story – One of Those Days
72. On Urgency and Procrastination. Daily Prompt. – Pisstower’s Jettison
73. Urgent – The ink drop
74. manvsloneliness – Day 104: The Man and the Cabinet of Curiosities; ‘Urgent’
75. Got the Time to Flow – a mile in my shoes
76. Smores and Sundresses – Essential Fun Before Autumn’s End
77. Splendippity – Hobo the Wonder Kitty
78. Anxiety/Panic Attack: Urgent – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
79. Steps Times Two – Eradication
80. Moonlight Reflections – The Dead Man in the Road
81. life is great despite its troubles – Really Urgent
82. Rosevoc2’s Blog – Urgent. St. Michael
83. A strange void – Life at 17
84. Cage Dunn: Writer and Author – An Urgent Need
85. A face to remember – Caving Writing
86. wordsareallihavesite – Urgent
87. Fire! – April’s Perspective
88. Urgent – Image & Word
89. Roberta Pimentel – Plagiarism is not okay
90. Occasional Dreams – The Long and Short of It
91. LadyLebz – BOWELING OUT
92. Making it write – Not too late
93. LadyLebz – TO SHOWER OR NOT TO SHOWER WHEN YOU’RE LATE FOR WORK
94. Think About It – War Child
95. Have a Heart – Oddities and Ends
96. Cometa Al Vendaval – The Urg-h-ence
97. Urgent – disue
98. Save me again – Awordseeker
99. ExplorewithMafaza – Tea styling
100. Musings of a Random Mind – Some Like It Hot
101. The Gad About Town – The Fierce Urgency of Meow
102. URGE(s) (inhere)NT – Insidious Temptation
103. Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 YNN – Drainage sewers require attention
104. Urgente… – TU SALUD y BIENESTAR AL DIA
105. manaadiar.com – Urgent Urgent Urgent
106. Poem – The Wonders of Breathing
107. Sometimes – indisputably inconclusive
109. It is urgent – Reem Writes…
110. What’s Next For Me – The Hope Filled Addict
111. Shail’s Nest – Microblog Mondays: Left clueless
112. Day 3-Three Day Quote Challenge – Harlife Journey`s
113. Urgent – mlfsolutionservices LLC
114. Grammy Writes – If Only…
115. Words and Wonders – Helpless But Not Hopeless
116. Devising Content that Stands Out from the Crowd – findingenvirons
117. Relax – “Slow down, ur movin too fast…”
118. Flowers and Breezes – Urgent
119. my forever – my sweetpainteddreams
120. I Will Fight Site – Now is The Only Time
121. Writing Natural – One Night
122. The password is “password” – Red Imperative
123. I Will Fight Site – A request
124. Kate Murray – Urgent
125. Haven’t found your passion yet? – Crafting My Life
126. Redrum season premiere – jessicasblog45
127. WHY IT IS URGENT NOT TO? – breathingpark
128. SERENDIPITY – URGENTLY
129. Sara Ackerman, author – Urgency
130. Urgent: Humanity Needs Connection – MysticalMillenial
131. Urgent Matter – emotionsoflife2016
132. Success Inspirers’ World – Urgent call
133. TO CARRY YOUR WEIGHT – Rainbow
134. Fictional Journey – False Call – 20 Minute Fiction
135. Urgency of Purpose – The Cosmic Salon
136. Urgente – apserranoblog
137. Notes to Women – Stubborn Faith
138. Urgent – Muse into Lines
139. Urgent or Not – charlesewaugh
140. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Zits (A Cure for Acne): WordPress Urgent
141. Life with Jess – It’s Good To Be Queen
142. Incredible Pie – Rules Priority Clash – Episode 5
143. a non-urgent poem – English Lit Geek
144. Success Inspirers’ World – Cruising Along To a Distant Shore
145. kStan(ly) kSays – take it down a notch
146. Cruising Along To a Distant Shore – atrangizindagieksafar
147. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: The Urgent Feline
148. Laurel Grove loves… – Coffee, now!
149. Southern By Design – Sisters Monday
150. Brave New World. – philosophicalpen
151. I Hate Unsolicited Advice – Le Happyone
152. Urgent – Chaiw’s
153. s1ngal – Urgent is Nothing
154. Remain unborn, My child… – Joy Write
155. Mother knows all – Elaine’s Bloggers Paradise
156. Wanderless in Beirut – 3 Quotes, 3 Days, Day 3: Urgent
157. C.U.S. – Monkebus
158. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – The Urgency of being Urgent
159. Urgent – CAHLA’S TAWKIN’
160. Nothing kills – Justus Creek
161. Urgent – The new-ness
162. MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO – Urgent
163. speaking up for myself – Unfinished Business?
164. There Are More Poets than Stars in the Firmament – keep the north star behind you
165. Urgent Meeting of the Minds – Dutch goes the Photo!
166. Running From Death – Zone of Non-being
167. Urgent. – The Soulance Blog
168. Where The Heart Is – Life Confusions
169. Shine in the dark – OaktownVibes
170. simply.cindy – Book Design
171. Urgent – Observations on life and all manner of Things
172. Copper Cranes – Cruella
173. Urgency is all relative – trailingthoughtsblog
174. go away – writemebad
175. Chains. – Today’s Tomorrow
176. Zombie Flamingos – Weekend gone…
177. what ifs – NAMASTE.
178. slideaways – cardboard cut-out birds
179. Horrible-izing the Normal – Just Writing!
180. Test of Patience – The Grateful Dead – The Voice of the Mortals
181. 21 Prayers to Election Day: Defense – Growl for Justice
182. hurry hurry..Monday morning bad poetry ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
183. What’s urgent really? – Random Thoughts and Musings
184. Look no further than blistered Shishito peppers for your appetizer needs – art of being fabulous
185. And then there was one – Urgent no more…
186. Knock-knock, are you there? [Lucid dream No.2] – Afterlife Love Story
187. kristinakoti – Feisty Little Mermaid
188. Urgent – perpeplejo
189. Designer Sophisticate – Election 2016 – Three weeks away.
190. Devil Doll Musings – Not Meant To Be
191. The Mind Hustles – Its PH
192. Lost Property Repository – The Midnight Cowboy’s Urgent Delivery
193. the15thday – the urgency of the non urgent, thanks to the stupid.
194. Urgent – different things to different people – Back On The Grid
195. The Mind Hussles – Its PH
196. Michel Montecrossa Blog – Today’s Art: ‘Tempest Of Darkness & Light #1’ – painting by Michel Montecrossa
197. Urgent(100wordstory) – LAW OF THE LETTER
198. 9 To 5 Urgence – Blog of Hammad Rais
199. Geese – Bits of Poems
200. Hot White Snow – Layers of Life
201. Urgent… – Emotions that matter.
202. My Guide To a One-Night-Stand. – LIVING AND LEARNING
203. The Hope of Heaven – Pete Gardner Psalms
204. Dear Mr. President – Brief Tales
205. The Ones I Couldn’t Save – Unlearning
206. I wrote a book. Now what? – The good…
207. The Wandering Poet – They were in no rush
208. ….on pets and prisoners….. – daily prompt: urgent
209. Lost Property Repository – Life In Song: I’ll Be Home Soon
210. Frank Prem – Telling The Come-What-May
211. Lantern Words – Always Urgent
One thought on “Author Interview – Tom Hocknell – The Life Assistance Agency (Mystery/Thriller)”
Ha ha, that’s exactly what I do – make up the bits that need researching then going back to check them on the 3rd or 4th draft (or 5th, I am terrible for putting that sort of thing off). I find it hard to do research until I know exactly what it is I need to know. I still appreciate Google, though; when I first wrote, I used to make lists of everything I needed to find out, and go to the reference library once a week.