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Interview: Charles Courtley, Author of Wig Begone

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Charles Courtley (aka Robert Seymour) is a 61-year old retired judge, who resides on the English coast with his wife Jane, of 38 years, and a small dog called Phoebe.  Previous to writing Wig Begone, Mr. Seymour contributed articles to legal newsletters and blogs.  At present time, he is adapting his novel into a screenplay and writing a sequel.  

You can visit the author’s website to find out more information and other places to find him in cyberspace: http://courtleyprocedures.wordpress.com/

Please tell us a bit about your book: Wig Begone – characters, plot, etc.

Charles Courtley, a young ambitious lawyer, ducks and dives his way through the shark-infested waters of the English criminal courts. The sharks aren’t just the criminals either – but the Dickensian judges too! Caught in a honey trap, Charles faces a challenge which all lawyers dread — being on the receiving end of the criminal process.

If you could meet, in person, any of your characters, who would it be and why?

Charles’ bugbear – Lord Flaggett, Lord Chief Justice of England. This judicial villain follows the tradition of Judge Jeffries of the Bloody Assize and Horace Avory — a hanging judge of the 1920s. He also comprises an amalgam of other real-life judges I appeared before in my early years. It would be so delightful to give the old monster a dressing-down!

If you could fictionalize yourself and put yourself in any situation, how would it play out? Could you give us a scene/scenario of such an occurrence?

Defending a murderer in a gas-lit Old Bailey courtroom in the 19th century and to be able to say to a jury: “Look at her, gentlemen of the jury, look at her! God never gave her a chance – won’t you?”

Quoting the immortal lines of the celebrated advocate, Sir Edward Marshall Hall QC, defending a prostitute facing the death penalty. How wonderful to be so eloquently emotional, impossible to do now in these prosaic times.

Do you have any particular habits that you carry out while writing? Places you write the best, foods, drinks, etc., that help set your “writing mood”?

I generally write in my study upstairs (in a converted bedroom) usually enjoying a quiet smoke (as an unrepentant pipe-smoker) before I begin. Too much indulgence in coffee and snacks, however, proves to be a distraction sometimes difficult to avoid.

What are you reading right now?

Jennie by Anne Sebba – a biography of Jennie Churchill, mother of Winston.

Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?

Daniel Silva, Nelson de Mille,Wilbur Smith, Robert Harris, John Mortimer and Tim Kevan (books about barristers), Richard Hough, Theo Aaronson, Christopher Hibbert (historical biographers).

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Dennis Wheatley – virtually forgotten now, but who wrote cracking good historical novels based on the French Revolution. He also lived life to the full, a connoisseur of fine wines, dying at the respectable age of 77.

Okay, here are a few “get to know you better” questions:

Please share with us a favorite memory.

Climbing the unspoilt Sicilian hills in spring sunshine, together with my wife, following the footsteps of Mario Puzo’s Godfather.

Please describe a perfect meal – including menu and those present.

Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding together with lashings of thick gravy in the company of my wife, sister, nephew and not forgetting Phoebe (the dog), lying by my feet surreptitiously waiting for titbits.

What are some of your favorite ways to relax?

Swimming, sunbathing and reading on a warmer beach than any England has to offer. Listening to jazz interpretations of the immortal tunes of Gershwin, Kern, Berlin, Bacharach, Rodgers and Lerner.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I’m happy enough at home by the sea but as a second choice, give me mountains and valleys in any country.

If you could only read books by one author, who would it be?

Re-reading the books of Wilbur Smith – as an evocative and prolific author, he’s hard to beat.

Share with us a few of your dreams. Also whether they have been fulfilled or are still a work in progress.

I’m adapting my book for film or radio play, and have written a third of the sequel. Enough to keep me busy in retirement.

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

My pipe – and munching peanuts and cheese biscuits whilst watching a classic movie on afternoon TV.

If you could leave the world with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Keeping up the struggle – the best part of life is the challenge!

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