I was a guest speaker at an online book event where I met the fabulous Dr Victoria Wilson-Crane. After chatting and exchanging emails, I discovered that talent for writing runs in the family as her husband has recently published his debut novel, Certified.
Never one to miss out on an opportunity to meet new authors, I asked if Roger would join me for an interview too!
Roger Wilson-Crane was born in Harpenden but raised in the idyllic Yorkshire Dales, which he hopes, makes him an honorary Yorkshireman.
His first foray into the world of writing was as a 14 year old when he wrote, directed, and performed a play for the school. Unfortunately, life and work interrupted this creativity and didn’t return until late 2019 when the desire resurfaced.
A keen amateur actor and singer, Roger has had the privilege of taking lead roles, across Yorkshire, in productions such as Guys and Dolls, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Full Monty. The latter culminating in a NODA nomination for best actor.
A Managing Director of a successful private company in the Automotive sector, he made the decision to take a back seat from the business and concentrate on the writing passion still niggling away at him.
His debut novel, Certified, was published on 15th August 2021 and became an Amazon best seller in October 2021. A fictional memoir, it follows one man’s journey through a birth, marriage, and death. Inspired by real life events, the humorous stories take you on a journey of farce, loss, and heartache through life’s three certificates.
Roger lives in Doncaster, South Yorkshire with his wife Victoria, who inspires him every day. They live with a continuous flat coat retriever in their lives, the current one, Hastings, aged 5, sharing their life. He has a 20 year old daughter, Holly Mae, who he is incredibly proud of and was the catalyst to finally become a published author.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I am a semi-retired Managing Director of a private automotive company. I took a back seat from the business at the end of March 2020, which, coincidentally, was at the same time we went into the first Covid lockdown. I had decided that the stresses and strains of reaching ever higher targets were beginning to take their toll on me. I had a few ideas with regards what I wanted to do but I was a bit lost for a while, until my wife, Victoria, persuaded me to join Michael Heppell’s Write That Book Group in November 2020. I had always wanted to write, had an idea for an outline of a story, but it was joining this group that inspired me to get stuck in and write a book.
When I am not writing I like to think I have become a good house husband! I enjoy walking our five year old Flat Coat Retriever, Hastings, and I am self-teaching myself the piano although multi-tasking is not my strongest attribute, so that pastime has taken a back seat since I started writing and publishing Certified.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
Yes it is. I hadn’t written anything since I wrote and directed a play for school when I was fourteen, apart from a theatre themed programme we produced for our wedding in 2014. That was fun to do and reminded me how creative I was and could be. I think doing that helped me when it came to drafting the book as the wedding guests loved the programme, with its humour and love, so I tried to recapture that feel and rhythm when I wrote Certified.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
This is a tricky one! The publisher would class it as humour fiction, but it’s also a memoir that is humorous, sad, poignant and heart-breaking. It is a comedy drama that deals with families and relationships.
The book is split into three stories, all linked, that are based on the three major certificates that run through our lives. Inspired by real life events, it follows one man’s journey as he looks back on an unexpected birth, a hapless wedding, and a bizarre death. It is a book with many farcical situations but also unexpected twists, heartbreak, and sadness. A raw, but humorous, look at love and life.
The majority of the book is based in the Yorkshire Dales where I grew up but it does have an interlude in Malaga plus the beautiful area of Puglia, in Italy, where the hapless weddings take place, including a strange encounter with Justin Timberlake.
It’s a book for anyone who has been touched by a birth, wedding, or death and how we all have our own individual memories of these events, one way or another.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
Apart from Michael Heppell, and my wife Victoria, the other factors that inspired me were my daughter, Holly, and my late father.
I knew I wanted to write about the week my father passed away. As a family, we hadn’t had a relationship with him for over twenty years so it was strange arranging his funeral and fulfilling his last wishes when we didn’t know him. This led to many farcical events, including the surprise appearance of the local Morrisons staff arriving to pay their respects at the crematorium, and a description of an area where my father wanted his ashes scattering that was impossible to find, deep in the Yorkshire hills. I won’t go into too much detail, as I might spoil the story, but a cold, wet, and windy day just added to the farce.
I knew this wasn’t enough so I started to think what I could write to make it into a full length book. Becoming a father was very unexpected for me. I thought I had missed the boat and had resigned myself to going through life without the joy of being a parent. Once I had the light bulb moment of writing about this part of my life, the inspiration for basing the book on the three certificates was born. I had the unexpected birth part, the bizarre death, and it was then quite easy to add a hapless wedding to the mix as I have experienced a few! So, in a very profound way, my father and daughter inspired Certified which is lovely really.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Firstly, write every day. Get into the habit of writing something, anything. It is good for routine and rhythm for the way you write. Also, don’t worry if sometimes what you write is rubbish. We all do it, but I promise if you have written 500 words that you think are hopeless, there will be a good sentence, here or there, that you will be able to take and slot into your book somewhere.
Secondly, read what you have written out load. It might feel strange, but this will help you with the editing process. By doing this you will understand the flow, where a comma might be missing, or a full stop. Is the paragraph too long and needs breaking up? It is amazing what you pick up when you read it like this.
Finally, don’t be afraid of rejection as getting an agent or publisher, to represent you, is hard and very rare. By all means try and pitch your book the traditional way, but there are so many ways you can self-publish now. Do your research, find what is best for you, and follow your dream and get that book out there.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
I love it when I am in the zone. You have days when the ideas are clear and it is a pleasure to sit and write, knowing what direction you are heading with the story. There are other times when you think you know what your plan is, you have the outline, but then suddenly you have another idea that is infinitely better. I get a huge buzz when the creative juices are flowing and I am enjoying the words I am putting down on paper.
List three interesting facts about yourself
This is a tough one! I bared all on stage, more than once, playing Dave in The Full Monty at different theatres across Yorkshire and the North West. What else? I once shared a car journey with Bet Lynch, Betty Turpin and Mavis Hilton from Coronation Street. That was when they were VERY famous. Finally, I once sang on the famous Cavern Club stage in Liverpool. There is a video of it somewhere but I think it’s best left in a vault somewhere!
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
I am quite introverted, which is surprising really given my working life, so I do find it hard to put myself out there and be me when promoting the book. I am getting better at it but it is definitely the least favourite part of the entire process.
Also, the realisation that you need to be patient with this book lark! The writing bit, whilst challenging, is so very rewarding and then it is publishing time. This is where the demanding work starts. Marketing yourself and your book requires a huge amount of dedication and can be frustrating. You do a lot of interviews, social media, for little reward, or so it seems, but your patience will be rewarded if you stick at it.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
For any author, feedback and reviews on platforms like Amazon and Goodreads are gold dust and help the book sell. If the reader enjoys the book then I would ask them to take a couple of minutes and post a review on the platform of their choice, or direct to the author if they prefer. You have no idea how fabulous that makes an author feel, if they are good ones of course!
Also, and I do say this in a loving way, please don’t pass the book you have bought for others to read. Recommend they purchase their own ‘unique’ copy if you can. Whilst it is lovely when you are given feedback on how great your book is, and how their friends or family love it too, you do start to calculate how many more sales you might have missed!
What is your next project?
I am currently working a loose follow up to Certified and is based around three Flat Coat Retrievers that have shaped a man’s life over two decades, making him a better person, husband and father.
It’s called A Life Retrieved and tells the story of how one of them saved his life, one changed it forever, and one had a penchant for fish food. Unique in every way, this trio of Retrievers will make you laugh and cry, in equal measure, and are guaranteed to make your heart wag with more love than you can imagine.
Connect with Roger here:
BUY your copy of Certified via Amazon or Waterstones
Certified Book Blurb:
Three tales, following one man through birth, marriage, and death. Inspired by real life events, this humorous fictional memoir takes you on a journey of joy, loss, and heartache, through life’s three certificates.
It is, ultimately, a love story.
One Unexpected Birth: The long road to fatherhood. Missed opportunities, poor choices, a car ride with Bet Lynch, and finally the shock of becoming a dad. A story of heartache, elation, and Peter Beardsley.
One Hapless Wedding: The pressures of matrimony. Inept friends, false promises, an encounter with armed police, and finally the relief of “I do.” A story of love, commitment, and a stranger, Wally, and his camper van.
One Bizarre Death: The sadness of loss. Confused emotions, life re-evaluation, £25k in ceased bank notes, and finally saying goodbye. A story of regret, family reflection, and Morrisons, the supermarket.
A book to stir the memories in us all.
The realisation we have all been certified.
★★★★★ Certified is funny, heartfelt, has some cracking twists, and is a joyful read that I would heartily recommend. Five Stars. – Michael Heppell, international Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author
★★★★★ ‘Certified’ is an entertaining family history that covers love, loss and life with humour and a deft hand. – love reading.co.uk