This week we interview author Max Boyle, a teacher of English who also has a passion for Eastern Europe. After teaching in the Czech Republic and then travelling through the countryside of Estonia he decided to write about his experiences, penning two books Touching Velvet and The Indrawn Heart.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I was born of an Estonian mother and Scottish father in Huddersfield in 1958. I studied at Leeds Metropolitan University and the University of Huddersfield. I have taught English in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia and Great Britain.
If you could describe the storyline of your latest novel to someone in just a few sentences how would you entice someone to want to read it?
The Indrawn Heart is a travelogue and describes my journey around Estonia, as well as incorporating an enquiry into the supposedly reserved and introspective national character of the Estonians. I think the attraction of the book is that, with the travel literature market flooded with books on the Mediterranean and other popular locations, the reader is offered the opportunity to discover something of one of Europe’s lesser-known countries and its people.
When and why did you begin writing?
I have long been interested in travelling and the literature which can result from it, but in 1999, with my mortgage paid off, I ditched an office job and departed for South Bohemia and a teaching position. My decision to write was prompted by reading Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, and I followed suit with Touching Velvet: A Year in the Czech Republic.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Quite simply, the act of composition. I take a pride in trying to write well. I also enjoy shedding a little light on lesser-known locations, ie South Bohemia and Estonia thus far.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Word-processing! I hate doing this at length and so I farm out hand-written manuscripts to typing agencies. This entails a lot of proofreading and correcting on my part, and it’s expensive too.
Which Writers do you admire and can you name a favourite book?
I love Laurie Lee’s lush, evocative prose in his books on Spain, but I think I find Colin Thubron the most eloquent and engaging travel writer. His Among The Russians is a fascinating, if solemn, insight into the Soviet countries as the USSR stood on the brink of collapse, although, as he encountered people of many ethnic backgrounds, the book’s title is a misnomer.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
For travel writing, be aware that if you write about a small, esoteric location, you might have to be content with a small, esoteric publisher, or be willing to self-publish. Well written, informative manuscripts are not, of themselves, enough to attract mainstream publishers, who operate primarily by commercial criteria. ‘Will it sell?’ is the first question they address.
What are your plans for the future?
It’s a far cry from South Bohemia and Estonia, but, having been impressed by Laurie Lee’s works on Spain, I might try writing a travel literature book on the country.
If you would like to find out more about Max’s trip to Estonia and his latest novel The Indrawn Heart The Baltic Times have also published an article (http://www.baltictimes.com/)
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Max for taking the time to participate in our ‘Author of the Week’ series.
Coming Soon: A Review of The Indrawn Heart
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