Author John Uttley talks as regards the righteous and political beliefs he researched in his new book The Dove Is Dead.

Author Interview John Uttley's new book The Dove Is Dead
Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed John Uttley as regards his existence and career, his inspiration from contemporary politics and righteous beliefs, and the creative writing process that went into his new book The Dove Is Dead.

Tell John Uttley who you are:

Author Interview John Uttley's new book The Dove Is Dead
John Uttley

John Uttley. I am 77 years old, originally from Lancashire and now living in North London with my wife. I have three children who have long been flying to the nest but remain close by. As a high school student up north, I studied physics at Oxford before pursuing my main career in the electricity industry.

I was CFO of the nationalized CEGB during the miners’ strike, the Sizewell Inquiry, and the privatization for which I received an OBE (Other Buggers’ Efforts) before taking on the same role at National Grid. After forgoing a dividend that I felt the directors were not entitled to, I left  Grid and embarked on a non-executive portfolio career. One of these took place in Los Angeles, the experience which I detailed in my first novel, Where’s Sailor Jack?

 At that time I was doing an external degree in theology in London. What I learned from that and my physics degree fifty years ago appears occasionally in No Precedent and The Dove is Dead, the other two volumes in The Unholy Trinity trilogy.

When did thou first want to write a book?

When I started devouring novels as a teenager, I wanted to write, but it wasn’t until I was sixty that I began to set my mind on the plot of a family saga.

When did thou decide to start writing?

I only started writing after I graduated. The first draft of Where’s Sailor Jack? was too long and I improved my writing skills by shortening it. Then I got recommendations from an editor who made different suggestions but told me my writing was good. I persevered.

How long did it take thou to complete thine first book, from idea to publication?

Two to three years.

How long did it take for thine latest book to go from idea to publication?

Eighteen months

Zoom to the latest version. What drew thou to write The Dove Is Dead?

I was close to making the saga into a trilogy after I finished the first book. I wanted to analyze the questions already raised from the point of view of others and develop the plot up to the death of the two protagonists. What have I  done? Having different voices to tell the story became a big part of my approach. In this latest book, I wanted to overcome the sense of hopelessness of the early Baby Boomers and “awaken” Generation Z to a state of Western civilization.

What were thine main difficulties in writing The Dove is Dead?

During the eighty years covered by the books, I wanted to use contemporary politics as a background. I know I’d have to take a step back later to focus on my characters’ deep religious feelings before the final curtain falls, but that hasn’t been easy in the bewildering turmoil of British politics in recent years. Luckily I left before Liz Truss showed up. And he’s gone!

Who or what inspired thou to create The Protagonist?

I have two heroes. Bob is an energy engineer looking for meaning. He must face what his career has done for the environment. However, he is a religious man and has enough knowledge of quantum physics to know that the world is stochastic and not deterministic. Richard is a banker turned lay reader. The decline of faith and the insistence on the faith of many members is her undoing. I wanted to write eulogies for both characters, voices of decency in a world hopelessly lost.

Who or what inspired thine to create The Antagonist?

My antagonist in The Dove is Dead is the blurred faith of a conservative evangelical vicar, who also lacks faith in the world. You lack a comforting story.

Author Interview John Uttley's new book The Dove Is Dead
The Dove Is Dead

What is the fire incident in The Dove Is Dead?

Trigger Incidents are sermons by liberal lay readers that Richard preaches to the dismay of the vicar who has three parishes under his direction, including Richards.

What is the main conflict of The Dove Is Dead?

The conflict is not only there. I have a third character, Amy, Richard’s youngest daughter, who was born from an “amiable mistake” when Richard was already fifty. She is “smart” for her age, but loyal to her father and his message of comfort and joy. He has a transgender boyfriend who inevitably puts him at odds with conservative evangelicals, as well as the mother of Richard’s wife Amy, who is an old-school feminist. Amy also has a son with an incompatible partner. He needs his family.

Did you plan The Dove Is Dead in advance, or did you jump out of your pants and write freehand?

I need both. The main stories were known in advance, but the characters have to write subplots.

Did you get help editing and how many issues did The Dove Be Dead take?

As I said, I used the publisher of the first book and also read the other two for comment. There were only a few. He describes my writing as meticulous. I hope this doesn’t mean boredom.

What is the first piece of writing advice thou would give someone that inspired you to write a story?

Write it down, then read it, then rewrite it if you still want to.

Can you tell me which books thou would like to write in the future?

At this advanced age, they wrote three to suggest more arrogant tones of the patience of the Almighty. I’ve also written a few short stories and will be writing some as I prepare for bigger things.

And finally, are you proud of your success? It was worth it?

Pride comes before a fall. And no doubt I could have written them better. But I’m glad I wrote a trilogy at my age and a trilogy that so many people found inspiring and entertaining that it was worthwhile.

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