Daniel Kemp, Author of “The Desolate Garden”

Welcome, Daniel. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 62 year old, second time round married man, who almost twenty years ago inherited a ready made family of two children, one of each gender. They were young teenagers who, like most of their age, thought they knew it all until they met me who DID know it all. We all survived, they showing me that I was wrong, and hopefully, I was able to teach them tolerance and understanding which I too began to learn. My wife Patricia and I now have three adorable Grandchildren who take up most of our time and all of our dwindling money.

I became a fully fledged Police Constable and found another side to myself. I wanted not only to be the Sheriff in rounding up the bad guys but also I wanted to be the Judge and administer the punishment. I saw too much injustice and the sorrow that it caused to continue doing my job. Criminals in my opinion were better looked after than those who had suffered at their hands, so I handed in my papers and left.

I bought a Mini-Cab business in Bermondsey, South East London found out that I liked it, so progressed to do the Knowledge and became a London Black Taxi Driver. That was nearly thirty-eight, flying past, years ago now and I’m still doing it when time allows.

How and why did you begin writing?

Some five years on now, from a fine sunny November morning near the Old Bailey, I was involved in a Road Traffic Accident. A strange, over used, word for indifference, incompetence or down right disregard, that left me traumatized and effectively out of work for three years. I needed something not only to do in my wasting hours but something to keep myself in one piece.

I began to write.

What was the first thing you remember writing?

My first attempt ‘Look Both Ways Then Look Behind,’ had a woman as its central character. Natalia Morrenti, the youngest daughter of a wealthy powerful Italian dynasty. I tried to tell it as a first person narrative, she explaining her life to her estranged husband she left literary left holding their son, three months after his birth. It had all the usual Mafia links, taking place in Southern Italy, America and Kenya. I found an interested agent who sent it off to the top fifteen publishing houses here in the UK and although not receiving one bad comment, it wasn’t wanted. I almost then gave up. I was unable to work, depressed by that inability and now unwanted. Except by my agent and it was he that encouraged me to keep trying.

Where did you get the idea for The Desolate Garden?

I night I was laying in bed and heard a phrase in my head “Tell me a joke.” From that I crafted The Desolate Garden. I use the word crafted, deliberately, as I came to find that is indeed a craft, to write, one in which you improve the more you do it. There is still room in my head for improvement, much, particularly with punctuation, but I’m loving looking inside it to find the tools. Editors being an essential one.

What do you read?

When I was fit and young, and never touched anything stronger than a slime-line bitter lemon, I was an incessant reader wanting no other distractions. I would grab eagerly handfuls of books at book-fairs where every thing there smelt musty. Not only the books but others with avid attention and their rain sodden coats.

I read everyone from Boris Pasternak and George Orwell to J K Jerome and A A Milne, my favorites lay somewhere in the middle of the sublime and ridiculous. John Le Carrè and Wilbur Smith with a sprinkling of John Fowles. I loved the intrigue, the mystery and the depth of those writers, and somewhere their influence stayed in my memory until it was reopened with that line–”Tell me a joke.”

Have you done much traveling?

As far as traveling goes, Italy was my chosen destination but the restrictions of that leper disease, smoking, has dulled my urge to suffer the imposed discomfort of withdrawal of something I am addicted to. I remember smoking on British Airways traveling with Gary Oldman’s sister to meet Oliver Stone after the Film JFK when it was allowed, and then glorified after almost every bed scene in every Film. Now it is banished as an unsightly contagious, complaint, confined to some unholy spot hidden from view, or in my case, an over flowing ashtray next to the computer. Cigarettes and half a glass of red wine filled to the brim with cold water are my only props that I lean on when writing. Ah well just an old man’s rumblings I suppose. Put me back in the corner and leave me there.

What is your favorite part of writing?

I’ve fallen in Love with all the aspects of writing and want to spend every waking hour developing characters into believable tangible objects that leap from a page and say. “Hello, this is me, do I know you?” I love not knowing where the story wants to take me, sometimes having to adjust what’s gone before to achieve that end that is always beckoning, but never reached until you’re closing in and the structure has been laid and built upon. In The Desolate Garden I am not ashamed to say that I cried when it was approaching the end and again on read throughs when it was finished.

What is your current writing project?

I’m currently working on a third novel ‘Mitzy Collins’ a moralistic tale of how the death of a sixteen year old girl impacts on all that knew her, as well ‘Mitzy’ who didn’t, but knew all those who tried to cover up the truth. The story is told from a third person perspective, her dead twin brother, who got caught up in the conspiracy and paid the ultimate price, death. It begins with Mitzy asking her three dinner guest a simple yet loaded question…”Do you think that lying is endemic today?”

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I carry a note-book with me whilst at work and jot down anything that comes into my head throughout the day.

I use this same method to do my little missive’s under the title ‘The View From The Cab’ on Facebook. Here I tell short amusing stories about the life driving that iconic London Black Taxi and I also give, what I hope, is practical advice to those intending to visit this great City. There are plans to link these stories to a publisher in American whose early life was spent in the US Armed Forces

How has your life changed since you began writing?

Since I started this new aspired to life of a writer my every-day life has changed considerably and I can give you a practical example of this; the other morning, having a few minutes to spare, I went to turn the TV on, I had forgotten how to!

I go to bed now with stories rolling around, never letting me rest as once I was able, and I have to manage my time in a more organized way. I do it like this . . . Off to work at eleven am. Home by eight write, make notes here on my lap-top and comments either in ‘The View from the Cab’ or on my blog at Word Press, bed by midnight. Up by seven and answering or commenting on posts in FB again and trying hard to think of something original to leave there on my page.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I’m lucky that I can get a lot of inspiration whilst at work for all my ventures into this wonderful world of story telling. I love people, and my imagination can go wild sometimes just by seeing the unexpected.

Another example of this is..Not so long ago a man hailed me in my cab who I started to build into a character for my forth book, as yet untitled and other than the first few lines, undertaken, but it will. . . .

What published book would you have liked to have written?

Ulysses would have been the book and those who love all of James Joyce would be my audience. A high goal but why settle on mediocracy? I am in all truthfulness a million miles behind my target and do not have time on my side to accomplish this ambition but I’m going to try.

Describe your writing in three words.

The Desolate Garden in three words? . . . No I’ll use two. . . . Lovingly crafted.

Where can we learn more about your book?

The Desolate Garden will be published soon.

My web page is http://danielkemp.co.uk/
Twitter as Danielkemp6
I’m hoping to join other networking sites in this quest to be recognized.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

3 Responses to “Daniel Kemp, Author of “The Desolate Garden””

  1. Kaye George Says:

    I’ve been following some of Mr. Kemp’s posts online and he’s an interesting guy! Keep at it, Daniel, that’s the only secret I know to writing. Don’t quit.

  2. Sheila Deeth Says:

    Great to meet you. I enjoyed this post and I know I shall enjoy your writing.

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