Interview With Author John Bainbridge

Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

I’m John Bainbridge and I write both non-fiction and fiction. My fiction books are mostly set in the past, as either historical novels – I’ve written a series of novels about Robin Hood – and the Victorian era – the William Quest stories – and the 1930s, the settings for my thriller, Balmoral Kill and the untitled one I’m finishing at the moment. My non-fiction books are mostly about walking in the British countryside, including two memoirs “Wayfarer’s Dole” and “The Compleat Trespasser.”

What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

My novels usually have some basis in history, whether it be the conflicts of Medieval and Victorian societies, or the threat of war in the 1930s. My outdoor non-fiction books are very much written from a personal perspective – autobiographical as well as topographical. I do tend to write about what I know, having studied Victorian history at degree level and having explored much of our countryside on foot. My characters are often to be found in the great outdoors.

What inspires/inspired your creativity?

I’m usually inspired by incidents in history, such things always trigger ideas, whether it be in fiction or non-fiction. I’m interested in how societies drift into war, how people find solace in the countryside, old medieval laws. I’m also very much inspired by places. Just being somewhere can trigger an idea. Once I have a setting and a character I usually get a plot – though I dislike the word plot. I much prefer framework.

How do you deal with creative block?

I just sit down and write. Very often I find I do some of my best work if I force myself to just get down there and do it. Very often, I’ll just write a scene with someone doing something even if you never use it or its not relevant to the work in progress. I find action sequences come the easiest. The hardest are scenes were people are having long conversations, and I try and break those up.

How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I read the reviews, and thankfully mine are generally good, but at the end of the day reviews are just opinions. Better writers than me have had terrible reviews. You just have to soldier on!

How has your creation process improved over time?

The more you write, and the more regularly you write, the easier it gets. I have more self-discipline now than I had years ago. And you need that. Ration the social media and write.

What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

I usually begin with only the vaguest outlines. I find this helpful, rather than having a detailed plain. Sometimes whole scenes and characters seem to come from nowhere. I like the flexibility of this. Even with the non-fiction, memories come to me that had gone out of my conscious mind when I just sit and start writing.

Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Having been a magazine journalist, I recognise that if you want to write commercially you have to have in mind potential readers. But I believe there are readers out there for most themes and plots. Finding them is the great challenge. But at the end of the day I write the books I want to write and hope for the best. I’m pleased to have found a readership for them and most of the readers who’ve left reviews or contacted me have been kind.

What role do emotions play in creativity?

That’s an interesting question. As a writer you need to emotionally involve yourself with your story and characters, but at the same time there has to be the cold hearted observer who is constantly self-critical, making sure that the book doesn’t run away with itself.

Do you have any creativity tricks?

Writing regularly helps creativity, and making notes about people and places, even if you have no idea where they are going to fit in a book. And forcing yourself to do it even when you don’t feel like it. Writing is one of those things that does get easier with practice. Above all, read read read other people’s books. The more you read, the more you learn about how to write.

What are your plans for future books?

I’m about to launch a new thriller set on Dartmoor in the 1930s, in the run-up to World War Two. After than I’m writing the fourth William Quest Victorian adventure – Quest’s a vigilante on both sides of the law. I’m also about to put out another book about walking in Britain before Christmas. I have lots of ideas, far more than I’ll ever write.

Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

When I’m not writing I spend a lot of time climbing mountains and walking through the British countryside. I’ve also recently started to learn to play the guitar, which helps concentration no end. I was once the chief executive of a environmental pressure group, and I’ve brought some aspects of that into my latest thriller, even though it’s set in 1937.

I have a writing blog at

A blog about the outdoors at

I’ve archived a blog on crime criticism at 

My books are all out in paperback and on Kindle and my Amazon author page is at


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