Who is Roger Davenport?
I came to writing after careers as actor, advertising executive and theatre manager. In that journey, there was an appearance in DR WHO (the Peter Davison Years), and amongst my TV writing credits are episodes of ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL, BERGERAC, and THE BILL. My books for young people have been published by The Bodley Head, Bloomsbury, Red Fox, Scholastic, The Oxford University Press, and now Skyhorse. A return to acting began with a part in the Granada Kids series, “My Parents are Aliens” ...
Photograph by Lucin Marshall
Please tell us about Wanderer?
Please tell us about Wanderer?
Wanderer is a YA novel set far in the future in a world where just about everything is broken. The action takes place in a massive valley which is very hot and which holds two kinds of people: the Wanderers, who roam the valley scavenging; and the Arconites, who rarely venture out of their pyramid city, in which life is more sophisticated. However, there’s a price to pay for that. It’s a restrictive, tightly controlled society, while the Wanderers have greater personal freedom. We follow a teenage Wanderer, Kean, and a girl in Arcone – Essa. Kean is a self-reliant guy and Essa chafes at the restrictions of her life and begins to get a little too adventurous … Their paths come together when conflict looms between the Wanderers and the city dwellers. If there’s a message it’s about the power of the human spirit and how you need people around you.
What made you want to write for a YA audience?
I don’t have a whole, perfect answer there. Just a fragment of an answer. Which is that I remember so clearly how much pleasure I got from reading when I was a teenager. I still enjoy books, but since then they’ve never had quite the same impact on me. Other than that, it’s a mystery to me that these are the novels I write.
What inspires you to write?
Don’t know about being inspired to write. I’m compelled to write – that might be the way to put it. Needing to communicate … Wanting an audience, trying to say something. Hoping to entertain as I’ve been entertained … Wanting to reach someone … That’s magic, the idea of having a reader somewhere who’s immersed in something you’ve put together, a stranger, far away. And – let’s face it – there’s also the knowledge that if I don’t ‘do writing’ I might have to do something I definitely don’t want to do.
If you could be one of your characters which one would you choose and why?
In ‘Wanderer’, I’d be Hawkerman. He’s closer to my age than the two lead parts and I’d like to be as cool as he is. He’s tough and practical and great at what he does – which is to lead a team whose only aim is survival. It’s quite late on when you discover that deep down he’s a caring sort of man.
Would you like to live in the world you’ve created for your reader?
Absolutely not. Too much danger, too much heat. But I like reading books where the characters have to struggle against the elements as well as each other. Did you ever do that thing of reading a book set in the snow or the North Pole or somewhere and you’re all warm by a fire? Brilliant.
What is your next project?
Mmn. I’m circling a few. The trouble is I write for various formats and I’m always hopping between them. If there was enough encouragement, the thing I’d like to do most is to start another book. In the meantime I’m reworking a YA novel that hasn’t yet been picked up by a publisher but which (of course) I believe in through and through. It’s a kind of modern Gothic horror story, quite dark and disturbing, set in London. I’m making notes for a stage play, too, far too slowly, and a radio play. Meanwhile I’ve got a play being considered by a couple of theatres in the UK and an idea going forward to Radio 4 and a ten minute film waiting to be made in New England. If all that sounds very busy, well, really it’s not half busy enough and there’s no guarantee that any of these things will happen or pay off. So what I’m really engaged in is a process I call ‘Fiddling while Rome burns.’ That’s a phrase that comes from the legend that the Emperor Nero set light to Rome and then watched the conflagration while playing his violin. Or whatever the Roman equivalent was.
What advice would you give to budding authors?
Write what you want to write. Something that excites you, so you can get up in the morning (or settle down in the evening) and do it. With (a lot of) luck, what you want to write will be what people want to read. Leave the ‘what sells’ kind of thinking till later. That’s not how to start being a writer. It’s just so important to come out of the blocks doing your own thing.
Where can people get your book and find out more about you?
Though it’s published by Sky Pony Press in America, in England ‘Wanderer’ is available in hardback from online booksellers including the usual suspects, and as a Kobo e-book, and as an audio book. In America you can get it online, as an audio book and in a Kindle edition. I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say that the story is set in the States. It needed a big country and there are kind of frontier values in it. As for finding out about me, that’s not too easy, though there is my website at www.rogerdavenport.co.uk. There’s quite bit of info. there, and even an email address, but basically it’s very static. So far I’ve not got into social media. They seem to be such a consumer of life. I bet if Nero had been on Facebook and Twitter he’d never have had time to set fire to Rome.
Single answer question:
Plain or Chocolate biscuits?
Writing time: Day or Night?
Dogs or Cats?
Coffee or Tea?
Classic Car or New and Flashy?
Dr Who or Sherlock Holmes?