Author Interview: Thomas Croft

How long have you been writing for?

Most of my (long) life. It’s a habit.

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

It’s all difficult and none of it should be easy. The most difficult part, for me, is editing: reducing and murdering my darlings. I have a tendency to overwrite and to include material which my editing instinct tells me should go. But it’s so hard to cut.

What genre do you generally write?

Fiction. I’ve written plays for radio and that’s both demanding and satisfying. Currently it’s historical fiction for older children which probably includes most of us.

Do you have a favourite author and why?

A tough one. There are so many. Joyce, probably – Dubliners – the humanity. But, if pushed, Penelope Fitzgerald: The Beginning of Spring and/or The Blue Flower. Why? The concision, the ability to evoke setting and character succinctly, her insight and observation, her demands upon the imagination of her readers.

What is your book called and how did you choose this title?

Tumble. Another 1066 Adventure. A tumble, a fall from a horse, is the key incident upon which the plot turns. It’s ‘another’ 1066 adventure because this is a companion piece (rather than a sequel or prequel) to my earlier novel, The Fighting Man, A 1066 Adventure.


In essence this is the story of the Norman Conquest, the Battle of Hastings in 1066. However, it is also the story of a life and an adventure. It takes both an oblique and longer view of this historical event. It’s about growing up, finding a voice and developing resilience in the face of adversity. In that respect – and I hope this doesn’t sound solemn – it has a moral purpose.

Has your book been published and how did you go about this?

Self-published. With both Tumble and The Fighting Man I tried numerous literary agents without success. I fumbled and found my own way but had some terrific help from Jo.

Approximately how long did it take you to finish your book?

About a year.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

I’m uneasy about giving advice to others. I give advice to myself: work harder and develop a working routine. Edit more ruthlessly. Read what’s been written aloud. How does it sound? Experiment. Leave it alone when you’re blocked and walk away. Yes – walking. Running if you can. But walking. And if you can’t walk or run just move in any way you can. Writing is physical. You need to turn it over and over within yourself. Live it.

Do you use social media to promote your book? If yes, then which social networks do you like the most?

No. I haven’t a clue. It’s my age, I guess and something I must get to grips with. I’ll talk to Jo.

What other ways do you market your book/s?

Other than Amazon, below, I take them to bookshops who stock them on a sale or return basis.

Have you enrolled your book onto Amazon’s KDP Select and how have you found it?

Yes. Fine for readers who know the book is there but I don’t know how to attract them.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

If I’m honest I think the way I work is so ingrained it would be hard to do things differently. I think I should involve critical readers at the drafting stage but, in reality, that’s hard to do.

What books do you like to read in your spare time?

I read widely. It’s enjoyment and compulsion. Again, I don’t want to sound solemn but it’s what we, as writers, must do – this is our medium. I read fiction and non-fiction, verse, drama, journalism. At the moment, A.S. Byatt, Rose Tremain, Sebastian Barry.

What do you feel is the most important stage of writing a book?

Constructing the plot – the framework on which the writing hangs. It’s a joy to polish those lovingly crafted paragraphs but if the story creaks or, worse, stumbles the work falls apart.

How did you go about designing the cover for your book?

It took me some time to find a suitable designer. I made some rough sketches based on the Bayeux Tapestry and did some online to-ing and fro-ing with the designer until we got it right. But then it’s never right and I could go on with the tinkering. It’s fun but it’s a displacement activity and I should be writing.

Are you writing or considering writing a follow-up to your book?

Two projects: an audio/radio version of Tumble; and a new historical adventure set in the Victorian period.

Do you have a day job (if so, what do you do?) or do you write full-time?

I used to be a teacher – secondary schools then universities. Now I’m retired but very much a part-time writer. There’s so much else to do.

Check out Thomas’ book Tumble. Another 1066 Adventure