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Talking with Author Oscar Reynard

Talking with Author Oscar Reynard

Hello Oscar, can you say a little about who you are.
I am an English bi-lingual Francophile, happily married to a French wife, and we share our lives and interests between the UK and France. 

Where do you get your inspiration to write?
Writing was always a pleasure for me. I made my first attempts at school by contributing to the school magazine.
We also used to write to American jazz musicians of the 1950s.  That was exciting! Especially as some replied! I handled much of that correspondence, which unfortunately has not survived as far as I know.

During my business career I was prompted to write magazine articles for specialist professional publications and for a while I was a business book reviewer. I never intended to become a writer and certainly not famous and if I don't, that would suit me perfectly.
I would like my book to become a bestseller, though!
Invisibility for me, but limelight for my book; that would be perfect!
The part that I find most rewarding about writing is bringing together experience, observations, synthesis and thoughts; mine and those of the characters. That is a big challenge, but it is for my readers to tell me if I succeeded! 

Can you tell us a little about your book please
I wrote this first novel, 'A Clean Pair of Hands', because I am old enough now to have a perspective on life, decisions, and their consequences.
I was profoundly influenced by a book called 'Mitterrand and the Forty Thieves' by Jean Montaldo. He is a French investigative journalist, who revealed the rottenness that lies behind some French political curtains.
Having read Jean Montaldo's book, and looked around at the strange things people do, I was inspired to write a novel based on those observations and I chose the places in which the characters move, mostly from locations I know.  The characters are all fictitious, of course.
It took me about a year to write A Clean Pair of Hands and probably another year on and off to edit it for this second edition.
I would like to write more books which shine light on aspects of human behaviour and consequences that are evident to most people but still defy explanation, and which may give food for thought to those who believe that free will is always a virtue.

It's an interesting title, how did you come up with that?
It occurred to me by the end of the book that we need to pick leaders from people we can trust to make important decisions on our behalf. Many of those in power now are proving to have dirty hands and although I am not advocating a return to puritanism, I believe we have to use some sense and apply less tolerance of self-interest and conflicts of interest in public service. 
Niccolò Machiavelli said that Princes will always be tempted, and it is clear that our equivalent of princes need protection from some of those temptations, so we must help them to keep their hands clean. 

What is your home life like while writing?
I am mobile, mainly between Surrey and the Midi-Pyrenees region of France where we have a second home. I built the book in very pleasant surroundings, looking out into nature in both places. My wife has been extremely supportive throughout the process and her advice and judgement are incorporated in the book

Was this a difficult book to write?
Any first novel is difficult to write unless you have the genius of an Alexandre Dumas. This story is based on a form of reality as I saw it and I was concerned about the conflict between presenting facts whilst creating an interesting plot for the novel. 

Do you have a favorite chapter in this book?  Can you outline it a bit for our readers?
I am immodest enough to say that I enjoyed reading this entire book for the nth time whilst editing it and I don't have a favourite chapter in isolation. There is a mix of chilling drama and some ironic humour throughout.
Here is one short passage that gives an indication of how life delivers pleasant laid-back calm that can swing to personal tragedy in a few minutes:

'The morning after the party, George Milton was having breakfast alone in the alcove next to the Bodins' kitchen at around ten thirty. There was a padded bench seat, a couple of wooden chairs, and enough bread crumbs, shards of crust and drops of jam on the table to indicate that someone, probably Michel, had eaten breakfast earlier and left. George had managed to cut his section of French bread in half length-ways, buttered it and applied a liberal dose of honey. When he tried to bite through the bread, he remembered why sharks have saw edges to their teeth; they are perfectly adapted to eating French bread. The more he bit and the more he pulled and twisted the bread with his hands, the more gobs of honey oozed over his fingers. He was just getting up to wash his hands at the kitchen sink when Charlotte appeared, looking unusually pale and stern, and came forward to kiss him. George explained what was happening to his breakfast and instead of the peal of laughter he anticipated, Charlotte just smiled weakly for a few seconds. Then she patted George lightly on the chest, bowed her head and walked back into her bedroom with her hands over her face, shaking her head.'

Where can we find copies of your book?
I have a web site at www.oscarreynard.com  There is more information there and readers can contact me in the Contact the Author section. Every message deserves a reply and I will try to make that a rule.
The new edition of the book is for sale on Amazon and all the leading book retailers.  I also still keep a few copies of the first edition, in case it becomes a collector's item!  

Does your book have an underlying message for your readers?
A Clean Pair of Hands is a novel about life decisions, free will and inevitability, and how they play out for the book's characters.
We are all faced with dilemmas at some time in our lives and we can't always blame society or governments for our own decisions.
The codes of conduct we apply to ourselves vary from culture to culture and between individuals.

For example, we can react very differently in a political culture that is out of kilter with our personal values. What happens then? Do you beat them or join them?
Some go with the flow and you can read about them in the newspapers. A few swim against the current. Will they succeed or will peer pressure make them just like everybody else? Can some of those who go their own way find longer term happiness?
These are some of the questions that may attract people to read the book, but it is not a philosophical book. It treats life's moral questions in dark and satirical ways.

'A Clean Pair of Hands' is above all a suspense story. It should tease the reader's curiosity right to the end.

What is the most rewarding part of being an author for you?
The most rewarding aspect for me so far has been working with some very dynamic and talented collaborators. My family are all very supportive, if a little bemused by the book's content.
As writing is not yet my career, I can be very relaxed about the book whilst hoping that it will provide an interesting read for everybody who takes a copy home.

What is next for you?
The door is open for a sequel to 'A Clean Pair of Hands'. I have some good material, but it would depend on demand. If this edition proves popular, I might get back to the keyboard. 
I have several other book plans awaiting development, but the fact that I could write them doesn't mean that I will. I need to know that there would be an interested readership before I go through the process again. Meanwhile I can focus on marketing this novel and on my other interests, which are varied. 

I would first like to spend more time doing very little, then enjoy the company of friends and family in bucolic South-West France where I could, develop my limited culinary skills in this cradle of French gastronomy.
Then I could exert my modest energy in discovering hidden properties with development potential... Living life is my second passion after reading books.

A Clean Pair of Hands can be found on Amazon and in leading book retailers.

Thank you for taking the Time To Talk.
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