Vince is a writer, husband, and grandfather who lives in the beautiful Swiss countryside. You can find out more about his developing historical fiction novel, Aquilla, Elba, here.
What drew you to write in this genre?
I’ve learned that deep truths are timeless and can best be communicated through the medium of a story. Second, w Such stories introduce me to very different living conditions and life perspectives, while entertaining me through an enthralling tale.
I found nothing suitable on Elba. So, to my own amazement, I decided to try my hand at writing such a novel myself. It leant itself to including a spiritual message. The result, set in the 6th century, is Aquila – Can Silvanus escape that god?
When did you decide to become a writer?
I worked as a technical editor, so writing was a part of my life, but a very different genre from novels.
Wherever I’ve travelled recently – Prague, Bosnia, Cyprus, Crete, Madeira, Tenerife – I’ve tried to find an authentic historical novel set in that location and written in a language I could understand. During a hiking holiday on the Isle of Elba in 2012, the only things I found were about Napoleon, who spent only a few months there, and so they failed to reveal the living conditions of the locals.
Discovering the hermit San Cerbone’s cave, inspired me to research his background and I discovered a fascinating character from the so-called Dark Ages. Suddenly a story grew within me. I’d never imagined writing fiction but decided to try putting pen to (electronic) paper.
Do you have a favourite motivational phrase?
I have a couple of favourite sayings of my own. Whether it is that someone drops a plate, gets dazzled by the sun reflecting off the neighbour’s window, is amazed at how I syphon the water out of a paddling pool or alarmed to see me extinguish a candle by putting my hand over the jar it’s in, I often say: ‘It’s all physics!’. When the milk or the money runs out, I might say: ‘Too much of nothing is good’, which puzzles people but makes them think. But these don’t exactly qualify as motivational.
Where is your favorite place to write?
Halfway up the stairs is a stair where I sit (with apologies to A. A. Milne).
When we split the house into two separate flats a few years ago, we had the staircase boarded over and an external stairway added as access to the top apartment. So I chose to make my office on the landing of the old staircase leading nowhere! It’s small, cold in winter, but here I can concentrate without being disturbed too often.
Which writers inspire you?
C.S. Lewis: especially his Narnia series, the science fiction trilogy, Mere Christianity, The Discarded Image and many of his short pieces, such as Transposition.
Charles Dickens: in particular A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations.
Brian McLaren: A New Kind of Christian series and all his newer books. I wish they were better known.
Wendell Berry: All of the Port William series – brilliant character studies and deep thoughts.
Vince enjoys the beautiful countryside around the little Swiss village where he lives, retired, with his Finnish wife, sharing a house with one son, his Brazilian wife and their Chihuahua. When he has a chance, he loves to go hiking in the mountains. He blogs as Greyowl (bilingual) and his historical fiction book is developing at www.aquilaelba.info. AquilaElba is also on Facebook.
In his spare time Vince explores the surrounding woods and pastures on the e-bike he was given when he retired, plays online Chess, Sudoku or Words with Friends and is heavily involved with supporting refugees from Syria and Iraq.