My latest guest in the Meet A Welsh Author series is screenwriter and novelist Phil Rowlands. In an earlier life he was a television and film actor but changed course to become a producer and writer for film, drama and documentary. He has since published three novels and co-founded Diamond Crime — an indie publishing house.
Earliest Reading Memory
Probably Robin Hood. My mum used to read it to me at bedtime and when I was ill. It was the first book I read myself when I was probably about four. The ending where Robin shoots the arrow and says to bury him where it lands always made me cry. Still does! The Children of the New Forest was also a love when I was ten. I used to imagine being part of the family and sharing their adventures.
The Author Who Changed My Life
Charles Dickens enthralled and excited me — taking me into another time, another world, as did, later, Mickey Spillane, Dennis Wheatly, John Le Carré and Mark Twain.
A Christmas Carol was the first book given to me to cherish. It was leather bound in white, and small, about half normal hardback size. The text was dense and the font tiny, but with young eyes and a strong torch, that wasn’t a problem after lights out. It still resounds now, even more so given the crisis we are going to face. Some lessons are never learned.
The Book I Keep Returning To
There are several but one of the most frequent and comfortable is Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee. I followed it with As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morningand A Moment of War. I’m also including A Tale of Two Cities for its political intrigue and adventure and its contemporary mirror.
An Unexpected Pleasure
On a holiday trip to Barcelona my wife (a painter), introduced me to the work of Antoni Tapies. I loved the use of nature in his work and the colour palettes he used. It was a great moment of joy to discover him. At the Tapies Museum, I sat and watched the great man on video discuss his life and artistic choices.
Most Recommended Book
James Lee Burke’s Every Cloak Rolled in Blood.
I discovered Burke about fifteen years ago when I read the first of his Dave Robicheaux series The Neon Rain. The latest, the twenty third in the series, is A Private Cathedral. I was stunned by the depth, colour and shape of his prose. I wanted to breathe the same Louisiana air as Dave, his buddy Clete and the people and places that inhabit their world.
I have read them all. Burke thinks Every Cloak Rolled in Bloodis his best book… and I, with humility, agree with him.
You Won’t Find Me Reading …
There’s not much I won’t read but I gave up on The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky when I was about eighteen and have no urge to go back to it.
My Favourite Writing Place
The Shed at the bottom of my garden — shown here during the height of summer.
The Last Book I Bought
A Marriage of Lionsby Elizabeth Chadwick. I felt a need to slip into the world of medieval marriage, monarchy and madness. I love the escape and insight that good historical fiction creates. At the same time to balance it I bought HER LAST CALL TO LOUISE MACNEICE by the wonderful Irish crime writer, Ken Bruen.
I Would Love To Have Dinner or Drink With …
James Lee Burke, Nora Ephron, Francis of Assisi, Katherine Hepburn, Lee Miller and if there was a spare place, Scott Fitzgerald.
I Wish I’d Written …
Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas.
The Author Behind The Name: Phil Rowlands
Originally from Pembrokeshire in West Wales, Phil has been what he calls a ‘safe pair of hands’ actor. In his later career as a freelance scriptwriter and producer he has written feature films, TV and radio dramas, documentaries and animation series and worked on productions as a script doctor and consultant.
In 2009 he was one of the co-founders of Funky Medics, a production company focussing mainly on innovative health education. Its projects have included heart disease, diabetes, smoking and drug abuse.
He currently has four screenplays under option, one of which is slated for production in 2023.
His third novel TimeSlip, was released in late March 2022.
Time Slip: Synopsis
Ian Chambers is in trouble and under pressure, guilt ridden and struggling to complete the first draft of his novel. On a stormy night on a Yorkshire beach, he experiences something so terrifying that he questions his sanity. In a desperate search for a rational explanation, he risks losing not only reality as he knows it… but his very existence.