Interview with Author Paul Van der Spiegel
Paul Van der Spiegel is the author of A Particular Friendship, his latest book. AN author of four books, he has taken the time to answer some of my questions about his books and his writing.
1. Where you a writer as a child? I liked to create as a child. I made scrapbooks from my mum’s magazines, and they told picture stories. I wrote stories at school, but I got lots of red pen from my class teacher for poor grammar and getting my commas mixed up. One of my best childhood memories is writing a story about Robin Hood and winning a prize… not from my class teacher, but from a teacher who I hadn’t had much to do with until then. I remember her eyes shining and her encouragement. I guess you can write technically or write from the heart. I’m someone who likes words from the heart, and I’ll worry about punctuation later.
2. What inspired you to publish your first book? I wrote Trans Deus because of the rampant transphobia here in the UK. I was also brought up as Catholic and I’m interested in the intersection of faith, sexuality, and gender. The toxic debate on trans rights amounts to the bullying of a minority in my view and I decided to write a gospel account with a trans women Christ.
3. Did you have any fears of publishing before you started? I think that if you desert the muse, the muse deserts you, so my biggest fear is not publishing, but that I’ll lose the creative spark if I don’t create. Publishing seems like a tough industry, but my hero William Blake sold only a handful of his works during his lifetime and died in poverty. Riches or an artistic legacy? I’d still rather be Will Blake than Dan Brown.
4. What were three things your learned about the publishing process? I’m no expert, but the first thing is to follow your creative instincts and take it from there. I’ve written four books and sold zilch, but I know instinctively I’m doing the ‘write thing.’
5. What was the most surprising thing your learned in the process? The most surprising thing for me is how strong the urge to create is. The difficulty is when the day job gets in the way, or when the busyness of life seems to be obstructing the process. So, I write lots of notes to myself, keeping a track of my ideas. Some of these scrawled notes are unintelligible when I read them later. Some of them are good ideas which become themes and characters.
6. Have you done any unique marketing that other authors can borrow? I admit that I’m a major introvert and marketing books and selling myself as an author is not something that I find easy. So far, I’ve done a spectacularly poor job of this, and I’ve just focused on the writing.
7. What is the title of your latest book? My latest book is called A Particular Friendship.
8. What is a brief summary/synopsis of the book? A Particular Friendship is about a gay Catholic Priest called Tom Morton who is living a closeted life and keeping a lid on his sexuality. Tom’s world is turned on its head when the man he fell in love with as a teenager comes back into his life. This leads Tom into confrontation with a homophobic bishop and forces Tom to make decisions for his own wellbeing and sanity, and the wellbeing of his parishioners — both gay and straight.
9. What inspired/encouraged you to write this book? I read the sad news about a London priest called Father Alan Griffin who was gay and HIV positive, and who took his own life after a bungled investigation by church authorities into unfounded allegations of abuse. The evil assumption that being gay makes you a danger to children is just horrific to me and I wanted to write a book that challenged the orthodoxy that being gay is ‘intrinsically disordered.’ Writing the book was a way of venting my own anger at this injustice.
10. What advice would you give an aspiring writer? Write your story, get it down on paper or onto Microsoft Word! Just do it.
11. Are you working on any new projects? Yes, I have a plan for a new trilogy of books and I’m looking forward to getting started on these!
12. Are there any plans or events for you in 2022? I hope that ’22 will be a better year for the world. For my part, I’m just going to keep on writing and doing.
13. Where can your future fans follow you on social media? I’m on Twitter and I’d love to meet people there and share thoughts and opinions!
14. Do you have a website? https://paulvanderspiegel.wordpress.com/
15. If you could co-author a book with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Blake definitely. I love Alan Moore and Alan Garner, Susan Cooper
16. What lesson(s) have you learned in 2021 that you will use in 2022? The biggest lesson I guess is to keep plodding on and not to let any perceived failures stop you from doing what you love.
For more information on his books you can visit his website at