Blog tour: Mr Doubler Begins Again

Welcome to my date on the Mr Doubler Begins Again blog tour! I am so happy to be part of this and to be able to introduce you all to this incredibly heart-warming and inspiring novel, which was published by HQ on January 24th.

I will soon be sharing my thoughts more in depth in a separate review but today I have something special… a Q&A with the author herself, Seni Glaister!

Hi Seni! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Mr Doubler Begins Again! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Thank you!  The novel is the story of an isolated potato grower whose only real contact with the world is through his daily lunches with his housekeeper, Mrs Millwood. But it is only when she stops visiting that he realises how much he depends on her companionship. The novel explores themes of friendship, legacy, family and, yes, new beginnings.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: When I write I have a very clear vision of my characters. I’ll nudge the plot in a certain way and will then ‘watch’ my characters respond – sometimes they are so wilful they will force the direction of the narrative in a way I hadn’t really anticipated. (Towards the end of Mr Doubler Begins Again there is a showdown between four of the characters. As I wrote that scene, I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, I just let them get on with it!)

What kind of research, if any, did you have to carry out while you were writing this novel? In general, is research something you enjoy or a means to an end?

A: I write first and research afterwards. I don’t want the research to get in the way of plotting but when I’ve finished writing I then check that I haven’t made any terrible blunders! Sometimes when I’m doing that post-plotting research I’ll stumble across a little nugget that I will find so interesting that I will go back and build it into the main storyline. I tend to write about things that I already have a great amount of interest in, so fact-checking isn’t a chore, it’s a pleasure. But if you’re fitting in writing around a day job you have to choose when to be creative, when to edit and when to research so I will try to prioritise the creative piece.

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the role of Mr Doubler?

A: I’m afraid I didn’t know how to answer this, as this is definitely not my expertise! However, when I first submitted this novel to my agent he came back with “Mark Rylance to play Doubler?” and when you asked me this question I hopped on to the family WhatsApp group and got the same suggestion, Mark Rylance, but also Jim Broadbent and John Nettles.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: The relationship between Mr Doubler and Mrs Millwood evolves throughout the novel. I found the ending very difficult to write as I was hugely emotionally invested in the happiness (and longevity) of both of these characters and I just didn’t know whether I could deliver them the ending they deserved. I can’t tell you how I resolved this without a spoiler I’m afraid!

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: I cut a minor character who was unnecessary to the plot. I felt he was full of such huge potential that I wanted to do justice to him by allowing him to play a starring role elsewhere. He’s now rattling around in my brain, causing mayhem.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I’ve just delivered my third novel to my publishers. I’ve had early feedback and I’m quietly (very quietly) excited. I think my novels are all bound by a common thread, I write about the subjects I care about and I try to right some injustices while I’m at it. This next novel deals with emotional frailty in men and women.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: I’m not but I’m about to begin! I find that I can’t read while I’m writing, it’s too distracting and I need to keep my head full of my own characters for that quite intense period of incubation. But I’ve just submitted my next novel, so I have a golden window of time between now and my first edit. I’m going to start with a number of novels that I didn’t read last year before looking at the novels people are most excited about this year. I’ve always really enjoyed reading debut fiction so I will be looking out for interesting new authors.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I am not a natural on social media, I am far too cautious to interact with the spontaneity required! But I think it would be extremely churlish to complain about disruption when most authors rely so heavily on this vibrant online community of bloggers and book influencers. When you first start to put a novel out into the world it is a very tense time, so the boost you can get from those early reviews is incredibly heartening. I’m full of admiration for the commitment that reading that number of books – and then reviewing them – takes.

I’m beginning to learn that the job of being a writer is very different to that of being an author. Writing is a solitary activity, but once you’re published it is definitely a team effort and it seems to me that the most vital part of that team is the reading community.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Read.

Thank you for your time!

I hope you have all enjoyed this as much as I have and that – if you haven’t picked up a copy of Mr Doubler Begins Again yet – you are now adequately intrigued!


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