After bartending his way around Spain and the West End of London, Robert Leigh returned to his home city of Liverpool and began writing. Since then, Robert has completed several works, including his first travel novel, From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe (a true story, of sorts...). He lives in Liverpool City Centre and continues to write in numerous genres.
Your real name and pen name?
Haha, I’m not telling you. That said, there are clues to my real name in my work.
Please share some of the best memories of your childhood
Christmas really stands out for me. The whole family would be under the same roof. We’re a pretty widespread bunch these days, so we don’t get together very often. I also have fond memories of driving up and down the country with my Dad. He was a salesman, so school holidays would pass me by through his car window. I believe this had a real effect on me – as an adult, I have really struggled to stay in one place. I still think, ‘what’s over there? Where does that road lead too?’
About your education
I left education after high school and went out to work. Literature has always been an important part of my life. I discovered I had a love of history somewhere in my mid-twenties.
What career did you plan during your education days
I was heading towards a career in graphic art. Then I went to Spain and began working behind bars.
What languages you can speak and write?
My Spanish used to be fluent, but is pretty rusty these days.
What is your biggest source of inspiration in life
People. I think I’m starting to understand other humans, then something will happen that makes me realise I have a very limited understanding. Life is never boring. Even when things get a little slow, there’s always something interesting happening.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
Living with the loss of my Dad still hurts, and I still struggle with it. I’m still trying to figure out how I overcome it. Away from that, I think writing my first novel was my biggest challenge. How did I overcome it? I locked myself in my flat for four years and kept working until I didn’t hate what I was writing.
What is your favorite genre and why?
I don’t think I have a favourite genre. I tend to read writers, not genres, and I never read the same writer back to back. That said, if someone describes a book to me as weird, or strange, or disturbing, then it’s likely to end up on my bookshelf.
When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
I’ve always been a scribbler, so I don’t really have a point in time when the writing began. I wrote a fair amount of poetry and short stories in my late teens, early twenties. I started writing my first novel at the age of twenty-eight. What is the purpose? I’m not sure my writing has a purpose. I have ideas in my head, and I enjoy putting them down on paper. It feels good, so I keep doing it. I find I have to be angry about a subject to form a story idea around it, so maybe my work is my own anger management therapy?
Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?
From Lime Street to Yirgacheffe (a true story, of sorts…)
In November 2013, Robert Leigh travelled to Ethiopia with
a brief to write a paper on the country’s coffee industry. Weaving the tale
from the journal he kept during that trip, Leigh takes us on his journey from
Lime Street Station in Liverpool to Addis Ababa, through the Riff Valley and
onto the verdant, southern region of Yirgacheffe. He will drink coffee
alongside hyenas, sleep in forests, share the luxury of 5 star resorts and come
face to face with agricultural poverty. He’ll get back to Liverpool, so long as
the 4x4’s tyres stay inflated.
All royalties from this title are being donated to Save The Children.
Shaun Dolan is a customer service agent,
working in a call centre on the outskirts of his home town.
He is not a particularly good customer
He is, however, very good at killing the
people who scream down his phone line.
He still makes mistakes,
but knows his skill set is improving.
And that’s all the encouragement Shaun
needs to press on to the next murder.
What are your forthcoming writings?
I’m pressing on with the next two books in the Retribution Trilogy. Part Two should be ready to publish in a few months. Should the opportunity arise, I would love to write more travel books.
What genres you write in and why?
Well, so far, I think it’s clear that I haven’t fallen into one genre. If a subject interests me, or challenges me, then I write about it.
What keeps you motivating towards writing?
The challenge. Can I complete this project? Will it be an improvement on what I’ve done before? The buzz of completing a project is unlike anything I’ve experienced.
How do you plan, schedule and monitor your writing commitments?
When I’ve decided on a project, and have the story line mapped out, I write fifteen hundred / two thousand words a day. I find I write better in the morning.
What are your future plans?
To keep writing and improving. I haven’t been outside the UK since my trip to Ethiopia last November, so I think I’m due a trip somewhere pretty soon.
How much real life goes into a fiction writing?
Fiction stretches the normal into the extreme. So without real life, fiction cannot exist.
Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?
It depends on what you’re writing. I think a love for words and a desire to write is more important.
Your dream destination on Earth?
Anywhere peaceful, preferably by the sea.
Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born in Southport, England, and raised in Liverpool and Yorkshire. I have lived in Spain and still love the Spanish people and their culture. I also love Greece for the same reasons. I am very eager to visit Italy. I have a long list of places visited, and like all places on Earth, each had its good and bad points. I would to travel around India. If the opportunity presents itself, I would love to travel from Lime Street station in Liverpool to Beijing, via the Transmongolian railway.
Your favorite time of the day?
Morning and evening. Sunrise, sunset…
Your zodiac/ sunsign?
Your favorite color and why?
Blue. I find it a very peaceful colour.
What is the last book you finished reading? What is the current book you are reading?
Last book I read was Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. A wonderful book. I’m just coming to the end of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
Your favorite book and why?
Down and Out in London and Paris. I remember the first time I read it. I was still working in the hospitality industry and so much of Orwell’s time in Paris really struck a chord with me. It was humbling, and upsetting, to see how little life has changed for people who serve and work in kitchens. I started in the morning and finished somewhere around eight in the evening. After reading Orwell’s descriptions of urban poverty and hunger, I ate the entire contents of the fridge.
Your favorite movie and why?
Ermmmm…. Not sure. I think The Godfather takes some beating.
Your favorite food?
I love curries and soups, so much variety. I have recently learned to make bread, so I’m really enjoying playing around with different recipes and trying to replicate different breads from all around the world.
Your favorite sports?
Boxing is my favourite sport. I also enjoy rugby.
What is the force that drives you?
I am always looking to improve, whether that be writing, or cooking, or learning a new skill - I want to put my heart into things and become the very best that I can be at what I’m doing.
What comes to your mind when you think of India?
A colourful, complex history and culture that I would love to see first-hand.
Sun or Moon - Sun
Laughter or Smile - Laughter
Morning or Evening - Both
Coffee or Tea - Tea
Mountain or Sea - Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive - Long
Silence or Conversation - Both
Water or Fire - Water
Air or Earth - Earth
Mars or Jupiter - Mars
Tulip or Rose - Rose
Red or Blue - Blue
Left or Right - Either
Glance or Stare - Both have their place.
What three words come to your mind for each –
Technology – use with caution.
Life – Y’only get one.
God – a flawed idea.
Humanity – needs some help.
Terrorism – needs to stop.
Racism – by-product of ignorance.
Childhood Abuse – abhorrent and evil.
Love – complex, often misunderstood.
Parenting, - life’s great challenge.
Old age – should be fun.
First thing you do in the morning after waking up?
Last thing to do before sleep?
Brush my teeth.
If one fine morning you wake up and find your sex changed to opposite, what will be your first reaction?
What do I do with these????
State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote
Leave me alone, I’m writing.
The last line of your autobiography would be…
It’s all true - all of it.
The title of your autobiography would be…
I was born, and then all this stuff happened…
Publisher: Screaming Magpie
Twitter handle: @RLeigh78
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RLeigh78
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7360969.Robert_Leigh