February 10, 2015

Going Rogue: an interview with Cedric Paul Foster, author of "A Rogue Like Me"

Is it possible for a dead person to send a message from the other side? Can evil be sensed in such a way as to steer us clear of it? Can a house truly be haunted? And is your spine beginning to tingle? If so, read on, as the stories related in these pages - all of them true are about ordinary people whose lives have been changed, either temporarily or for ever, by the extraordinary, the strange or the downright inexplicable. From the near-fatal consequences to a tyrannical headmaster when he comes up against a gypsy boy, to a young Jewish man who narrowly avoids being tricked into certain death at the hands of the Nazis, and from a family who are forced out of their house by the ghostly presence of a vengeful dead relative, to a woman who discovers a surprise in the attic that could lead to prison, there's sure to be something in this collection to set you wondering about whether there really could be such a thing as a sixth sense. If it's tales of the unexplained you're looking for, you've come to the right book...

A Rogue Like Me is available on Amazon.com

Gef: What was the impetus behind A Rogue Like Me?

Cedric: The impetus behind these short stories was their truth, they happened to real people. They had been lying in a drawer at home in various forms of development (or lack of) when my wife said to me one day: "Are you going to throw all this stuff away or give it a swing with a publisher?”

Well, I did what she urged, and now other folks can share my own experiences of fact. These facts are either gleaned from newspaper reports, old files, individuals’ accounts, or from direct, personal experience. It has to be made clear, of course, that there is no way of tracing the characters. These have other names and backgrounds, but the sequences of the stories and the events recorded in them have actually taken place in real life over the last 100 years. I feel that they should be expressed, since many of them are elevating and others can give hope to people.

Gef: How intensive is the research process for you? What little tricks have you picked up with approaching the research phase of writing?

Cedric: Research is always a revelation. It has to be careful and unfold truth. If there is a kernel of truth in a story, I think it’s always that more interesting. As for the intensity of the research, I can only say that it’s truly amazing what a thorough probe into an issue will reveal. One notable example in my own case was research into the inspiration of a famous poem by T.S. Eliot, which had always been referred to by a mass of critics at all levels in general as having been inspired by Eliot’s alleged visit to a manor house in Britain as if he were a guest of the owner, but research on location revealed that the poet was actually a trespasser and had no right to be meditating in the garden! As for tricks - well there aren’t any ’tricks’ as such, but for me the best advice for anyone doing research is ‘Don’t believe anyone; don’t necessarily put your faith in the statements of other researchers either, however integral they may be, but go and see for yourself!’

Gef: Was there any local folklore or particular historical folklore that intrigued or influenced you through the course of writing these short stories?

Cedric: There’s no folklore in the stories, but a background of genuine historical fact. For example, the British Raj at the back of Grandfather, the insinuated class differentiation in Light Under a Bushel and  Harlingford House, the disgraceful disrespect on the part of teachers for pupils at school in the forties in Gypsy Boy, or the rigours of the last war in NinaSaturday andThe House at Starost.

Gef: What do you consider to be the strength or saving grace of the supernatural?

Cedric: The so-called ‘supernatural’ is within us all. It has to be tapped. The few people mentioned in the stories managed to do that. The ‘strength’ is incalculably great. For those who are on the right wavelength, so to speak, anything seems to be possible.

Gef: What's the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? Or what piece of writing advice do you wish would just go away?

Cedric: The worst piece of writing I’ve read in recent years was a book called Beethoven’s Hair, published by the same firm that brought out Harry Potter a few years later! As for advice on writing, I don’t think there is any advice to be given other than encouraging someone to write sincerely in order to fulfil the desire to express oneself. Otherwise, leave it alone!

Gef: What kind of guilty pleasures do you have when it comes to books or movies or whatnot?

Cedric: Whether they are ‘guilty’ or not is hard to say, but I must say I very much enjoy TV programmes or films which are primarily to do with true depth of emotion. I mean sincere, genuine feelings like those represented in a  recent European production of The Lady of the Camellias, or the older productions of historic events like A Passage to India and Out of Africa, where there is a depth seldom enjoyed in the often superficial  characterisation found in many American films. Yes, I do enjoy real ‘gut emotion, I must say. 

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future?

Cedric: I hope to interest folks in a forthcoming novel, which depicts an escape by two people during the Nazi regime in Germany. It has always been of interest to me what it would be like simply to ‘walk out of dictatorship’, that is, literally, to go on foot, over the fields and away under the very eyes of the enemy…

The other novel, which is now just complete, narrates the surprising experiences of a beautiful young woman as she gets older. She realises all too early how difficult it is in fact to be ravishingly beautiful. There are snags. It is sensuous and moving, and I hope, amusing. It's a love story with a happy end after a serious crisis.

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