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Bestselling author Christopher Byford discusses his life in Gloucestershire

Gloucester > Entertainment > Local Answers, Local Personalities

Author: Patrick Baines, Posted: Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 11:20

2018 has been a real breakthrough year for Christopher. 2018 has been a real breakthrough year for Christopher.

Gloucester-based author Christopher Byford has enjoyed a hugely successful 2018. After signing a publishing deal with HarperCollins, the first novel from his ‘Gambler’s Den’ series was released earlier this year to huge acclaim. Ahead of the release of his third book The Local Answer caught up with Christopher to discuss all things Gloucestershire and his career as an author.

What’s the best part of your job?

“Unscrewing the valve at the base of my skull and letting the crazy out! There’s something wonderfully therapeutic about being able to call a life-long passion your job. The opportunity to put every single nutty thought down on paper and have people want to read the results still astonishes me. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I get to do what I love for a living and never a day passes when I don’t put that at the forefront of my mind. Doing so encourages me to strive harder for better results.”

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

“Astronomy is a big time waster for me. I’ve had a fascination with space ever since I was a youngster and thanks to a decent telescope I can indulge in that. I’m fortunate to live somewhere that has a decent patch of dark sky so when Saturn, Mars or Jupiter come around, I get a brilliant view. I indulge in a little astrophotography on the side. I use it to wind down a little as I find the experience almost meditative. There’s something calming about hunting an object up above and really taking the time to observe it.”

Where’s your favourite place to visit in Gloucestershire and why?

“Slimbridge Wetland Centre by a mile. It’s a beautiful location, they do incredible work there and it’s a fantastic day out if you go for a visit. If you do go along, it’s worth considering donating so they can continue in doing what they do.”

What’s your favourite restaurant/eatery in Gloucestershire and why?

“The Wheatstone Inn in Gloucester is up there for me. It ticks plenty of boxes, especially the ones regarding good food and décor. The Egypt Mill in Nailsworth is something special too and well worth dropping by if you’re out that way. Having a drink whilst curling up by the outside fire is a great way to spend your time.”

Do you support any local sports teams?

“I’ve never really been a big sports fan apart from F1 so unless they turn Gloucester Quays into something resembling Monaco, I’ll unfortunately be looking elsewhere.”

What’s the one thing you miss about Gloucestershire when you’re away?

“Oddly enough, the hills and surrounding landscape. I grew up in a very developed town that felt considerably claustrophobic – long terraced streets, that sort of thing. Gloucestershire is a beautiful part of the country and despite the rain, I’m content here. It is very much home to me.”

What is your favourite film and why?

“Who can ever choose just one? I’m a big fan of 80s sci-fi action ‘Aliens’. Everything about it hits the right buttons – the lo-fi technology, the effects, the aliens themselves, the sheer damn creepiness of the whole thing. There’s probably a degree of sentimentality as I first watched the film with my brother when I was a lot younger than I should have been, but its impression has remained well into my adult years. I still hesitate whenever I need to go into the loft just in case there’s a mass of giant bugs crawling through it.”

What’s your favourite book and why?

“That’s an easy one, ‘Flowers for Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes. It’s the story about a man with a low IQ who takes part in an experimental procedure to greatly increase it. As he becomes smarter, he begins to take stock of his life and realises that his perception of his once happy life was clearly skewed. It’s a rollercoaster of a read, heart breaking in many places with an ending that will gut you. I was introduced to it in my English class when I was a kid, but I never really understood the nuances of the title, nor even that it constituted as science fiction. It’s well worth picking up.”

Do you have any pets?

“I keep chickens. They’re wonderful little critters and full of character, highly underrated.”

Do you ever attend any shows at theatres here in Gloucestershire?

“I’ve never really had the time to check anything out. I should rectify that really.”

What achievement are you most proud of?

“Being classed as an Amazon bestseller is quite the accolade, finding out about that raised a smile. I suppose just being picked up by an imprint of HarperCollins takes the title as it was a lofty height that I deemed impossible to reach. There are days when I have difficulty believing what’s happened in the past year, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, the whole experience feeling like a dream. Then I tell myself to quit daydreaming and get back to it as the next title isn’t going to write itself.”

If you could give one bit of advice to authors wanting to get their books published what would it be?

“It’s easy for me to rattle off tripe like “if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be” or something so sugar coated that it hides the horror of the hard work required. I’m very straight talking when people ask me for advice and I always tell people the same thing; stick at it, work on the craft, keep pushing on. An author will strive to improve themselves at every opportunity and will seek to complete their work no matter the obstacles in their way. It can take years, as can accomplishing anything in any other field, and an insurmountable amount of luck but it’s by no means unreachable.”

What does the future hold? Can we expect more books to be released in the months and years ahead?

“The future would ideally be a phone call stating that Netflix have picked up the rights and are turning my trilogy into a series. In the meantime, back here on planet Earth, I’m counting down to the paperback release of ‘Den of Smoke’ in late September. Then I have a collection released on 3rd December and two titles that are currently unannounced. I’ve got projects for the next year planned which, while time consuming, are tremendously exciting.”

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