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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Tony Auffret talks about his new book, The Death Of A Smoker, and what inspired him to write.

JJ Barnes editor of The Table Read online creativity, arts and entertainment magazine

Written by JJ Barnes

www.jjbarnes.co.uk

I interviewed author Tony Auffret about his life and career, what inspired him to start writing, and the creative process that went into his new book, The Death Of A Smoker.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Growing up in a one parent family on council estate in the northeast of England, I was lucky enough to make it to university, when most kids didn’t, thanks to a full student grant. A joint honours degree in botany and chemistry was followed by a PhD in molecular biology, and I was set for a career in science.

Transitioning from academia into industry, I never strayed far from the interface, having co-authored a textbook on freeze drying and being a former visiting professor at the University of Greenwich. A career punctuated by fixed term contracts and several redundancies made me a bit of a nomad both geographically and professionally. As a result, I have worked across the scale from one- and two-man businesses up to multinational corporations, and frequently reinvented myself as my career focus flickered across molecular biology, scientific instrumentation, bio preservation and pharmaceutical development.

Tony Auffret on The Table Read
Tony Auffret

There was no plan to write fiction, but I often though some of the things that happened along the way might make a good story.

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When did you first WANT to write a book?

I do not think there was ever one moment, it was just something that grew. Having known people who either had a story in their head, had started writing their own novel, or had self-published their work, the thought grew that if they could do it, so could I.

When did you take a step to start writing?

After my third formal redundancy, I started my own one-man biotech/pharma consulting company. As is often the case in such enterprises, business was either fully on or fully off. In one of the lean spells, when I had started acting as a carer for my wife, I found myself looking for things to do in the mornings, so I started writing a novel.

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

From first conceiving the idea, an idea that was sparked by real events, to release it was thirty years, though it is a little harder to be precise about when I first put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard. My computer files suggest that from first creating a folder to my first submission attempt was about five years. It is hard to believe it took that long even though it was written intermittently. I suspect that the bulk of the writing, which was done part time, took one to two years. It took three years from when I first submitted a manuscript until I had an agreed contract, and then it has been about a further nine months until the release date.

the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazine

How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

‘Jack in the Box,’ which is a sequel to ‘The Death of a Smoker’ has yet to be offered for publication, but it took more or less a year from inception to having an acceptable manuscript.

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write The Death Of A Smoker?

It was a challenge! After a career in science could I be successful in writing a novel and having it published?

What were your biggest challenges with writing The Death Of A Smoker?

The biggest challenge was trying to remember the English grammar that I was taught at school. Judging by the proof editor’s corrections, to what was version nine of the manuscript, I don’t think I was that successful.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

I wanted to portray an image that working in the Security Services was much like working in any other line of business, including scientific research. The very occasional flash of understanding, or inspiration, following lengthy periods of slow, steady, diligent work that often includes mistakes and failures. The protagonist had to fit that image rather than be the all action hero often portrayed in films.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

The Death Of A Smoker by Tony Auffret on The Table Read
The Death Of A Smoker

Looking back, I don’t think there was any particular inspiration behind the antagonist, I just took if for granted that there had to be a ‘bad guy.’  He is perhaps what we could all have become had we ability and opportunity but lacked any shred of a moral scruple. The more I wrote, the more his character developed, driven by the direction the plot was taking.

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What is the inciting incident of The Death Of A Smoker?

I worked in a small biotech start up, in the 1990s, and one of the projects we were involved with was stabilising a chicken vaccine. We didn’t know that the virus concerned was a potential germ warfare agent. Let me just say that some interesting things happened, things I thought might make a good story, one day. Although the plot focuses elsewhere, the storyline hangs from a fictionalised account of those events and what might have been going on in the background.

What is the main conflict of The Death Of A Smoker?

Trying to establish the truth when information is available on a need-to-know basis only, and doubt and deception are fuelled by bluff and bullying. When the greater good is at stake sometimes you have to live with injustice.

Did you plot The Death Of A Smoker in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

Dynamic development sounds better than flying by the seat of my pants, but no, I did not plot the book in advance. Real life events provided a hook from which the plot developed but it was very much making it up as I went along.

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Death Of A Smoker need?

My publishers, Cranfield Millner, provided much needed editorial support. Thinking I had a fit for purpose manuscript after eight of my own revisions, the skill and professionalism that was shown during the proof editing soon taught me that I was still an amateur.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Start writing! The first draft may not be perfect, but you will get there.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you are planning to write?

As I have already mentioned there is a completed sequel, ‘Jack in the Box,’ which I have yet to offer to my publisher. It features the same characters facing a different threat, though it does pick up on some of the threads laid down in ‘The Death of a Smoker.’

And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment?

Yes, but it was only when I had read and signed off the final proof that I thought, ‘That’s not a bad book.’

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Website:               https://www.tonyauffret.com

Facebook              Tony Auffret Author

Twitter:                @tony_auffret

Instagram:           tonyauffretauthor

Email:                   tonyauffretauthor@yahoo.com

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