Friday, 22 November 2019 Paul Trembling on his latest book, Local Legend

Blog | Author Interviews
Local Legend by Paul Trembling

Paul Trembling, author of Local Artist and Local Poet, spoke to me about his most recent title – Local Legend – and the ways he connects with God through his creativity. You can find out more about his latest book and buy your copy here.

Paul has worked as a missionary, a crime scene investigator, a seaman, a bookkeeper, and a petrol pump attendant. Each of these have influenced his writing in no small way, each bringing challenges and lessons along the way. I asked Paul how his varied experience impacts the subjects he chooses to tackle in the Local novels.

“I've had a growing conviction that there's no such thing as an ordinary person.

“My writing has grown with me. As my experience of life has broadened over the years, I think my writing has gone deeper. As I’ve met more people and seen people in different situations, my characters have become more authentic, more nuanced – or so I hope! Certainly, that’s what I’m aiming for in my writing, to reflect what real people in the real world are like. And hopefully, to show my readers something new about life.

“For example, I’ve had a growing conviction that there’s no such thing as an ‘ordinary’ person. My wife, Annie, is a Methodist Minister, and as such she has conducted a lot of funerals. In many cases she’s had to deliver the eulogy – a lot of people don’t feel up to it for understandable reasons. As she’s researched people’s lives, and as we’ve discussed what she’s learned and what she might say, I’ve often been amazed by the details of what people have done and where they’ve been. The little old lady who used to sit quietly on the back row of the Church – in her day she was a rally car driver. The man who was once a RAF officer. The ‘ordinary’ individuals who in their ‘ordinary’ lives were extra-ordinary in some ways. And that’s part of what I try and show, particularly in the Local series – ordinary people being heroes.”

Local Legend will be Paul’s third book with Lion Hudson. Local Artist and Local Poet are also novels, but Paul’s creativity extends to short stories, poetry and photography. I asked him to expand on his creative expression and what he enjoys most about writing a story.

“I’m not sure that I could claim to be an artist – though I do enjoy photography, and I’ve taken a few decent pictures now and then! I’ve done a bit of amateur dramatics as well, and sometimes wondered if I should have been an actor, though to be honest I think it’s probably too much like hard work! First and foremost, I’m a writer. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I’m a story maker, but I’ve found writing to be the best way for me to express those stories.

“First and foremost, I’m a writer. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I’m a story maker, but I’ve found writing to be the best way for me to express those stories.”

“The format of a story is, to me, found within the story itself. My natural inclination isn’t to plan where a stories going, but to just start writing it, and see where it leads. Of course, with experience I can usually tell from early on if it’s going to be a short story, or a novel. And sometimes an idea expresses itself with a natural rhythm that makes it into a poem.

“I do get it wrong. Sometimes a story doesn’t work out as I expect. Local Poet (the first of the Local series) was like that. At first, I thought it would be a short story about someone who discovered poetry through a tragic accident. But as I wrote it, the characters developed background that I hadn’t expected. New elements worked their way into the story, as I started wondering about how that accident had happened and who these people were. It developed several different layers as I went along, until eventually it topped out at 48,000 words and wasn’t a short story at all! From there, it only needed a little bit of expansion to make it into the novel category.”

Paul keeps a blog on his website where he has been talking about one of his most recent sources of inspiration – embarking on pilgrimages around the UK. Pilgrimages hold historical and spiritual significance to many, and for Paul it allows him time to be with God, with nature, and with his wife, Annie.

“Walking is something that my wife, Annie, and myself have always enjoyed doing together, but this summer we decided to do something a little different. Annie was on sabbatical for three months, and as part of that she wanted to explore the idea of Pilgrimage. Naturally, I went along on most of them!

“There's something about the simple routine of putting on boots, strapping on a rucksack and simply walking that lent itself to meeting God.”

“The obvious question that came up was ‘What’s the difference between a pilgrimage and a hike?’ We read a lot of background material to investigate that, but in the end the simplest definition I could come up with was that pilgrimage was ‘Walking in the context of God’. In other words, walking with a specific focus in mind of seeking God, or of being in his presence.

“In some ways that’s rather a woolly definition, and indeed sometimes along the way I wasn’t sure if I was on pilgrimage or just walking! But there was something about the simple routine of putting on boots, strapping on a rucksack and simply walking that lent itself to meeting God. Not in any huge, dramatic way, but just in the combination of spending the day outside, with simple goals and an awareness of creation all around, which left me open to thinking about him.

“There have been some things that will impact directly on my writing. In fact, in the novel I’m currently writing (hopefully Local no. 4, provisionally entitled Local Killer) I’ve made the main character a regular walker, and my recent experience has translated directly into some scenes. But in a more general way, it’s helped me to think a bit more deeply about where I want to go with my writing in the long term, and what I need to do to get there.”

You can read more about the author on his profile page here. Local Legend, the latest in the Local series, is available here. Local Poet and Local Artist are also available to purchase.