Writing your first novel at the age of 61, let alone writing it with your son-in-law, would appear a daunting prospect for most. Ros Pearl speaks to us about how this unusual meeting of minds came about, and why she just had to include Pommade Divine in their tale of James Bond's love child.
Where did you grow up & what was your life like as a child?
I grew up in an idyllic village called Frampton-On-Severn in Gloucestershire. It was a happy family life, and a lovely place – everybody knew everybody. My mother still lives in the house where I grew up.
How did you end up moving to London?
When I left school, I moved to London. I met my husband when I was 17 through a charity fundraising ball held by his mother. We got married when I was 18 and had three wonderful children.
Is 'A Strange Way To Die' the first book you've written, and have you always aspired to be an author?
Yes, it is my first book. I'd always wanted to write, but with getting married so young and then bringing up children, there wasn't the time. I often used to write stories for the children, and make up ideas for novels and jot them down, but it wasn't until my children grew up and my son-in-law said he really wanted to get this book done, that I knuckled down.
How long was the process of writing your novel?
The whole process takes longer than you think. From first putting pen to paper, to actually finishing the first draft, about 10 months, but I suppose it was 2 years before I actually finished the book. I heavily researched everything, particularly for scenes such as the car chases and fights, which were foreign to me.
How did you develop your writing style?
My father was my inspiration – he was in the Navy and loved to write. His way with words was utterly captivating. He didn't write to be published, but he always kept a diary and wrote poetry too, which my mother still keeps.
Did you share the same passion for Fleming's famous fictional character's adventures as your co-author & son-in-law George Bamford, prior to collaborating on your novel?
I love James Bond, however, A Strange Way To Die is not supposed to be a Bond book. George, having read all the books too, was inspired by just one sentence in ‘You Only Live Twice’, that Kissy Sazuki was expecting Bond's Baby, but she never tells him. This really fired George's imagination and ever since then, he's been weaving daydreams about what could have happened to the child.
From George's foreword to the novel, we know that you helped to articulate his ideas, but how did the process of co-authoring work, particularly considering George is your son-in-law?
George & I get on really well; in fact it was my daughter Leonora’s idea that we collaborate. I developed the story from George's original ideas. It's his brainchild. We never had any arguments; it was a really happy collaboration. The book really has been a family thing with Leonora, George, and my husband - who was hugely helpful and really supportive all the way through.
Are you planning a second novel so readers can indulge further into this dangerous & exhilarating world, and once again give die-hard Bond fans a link back to their hero?
There is a second book mapped out and I've started working on it, though I have nine grand children who keep me very busy, and at this time of the year I am incredibly busy gardening (and wrecking my finger nails!).
Did you enjoy the process of creating 'A Strange Way To Die'?
It was absolutely fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's hard work and a real discipline to actually sit down and write, but I am very fortunate in the fact that I don’t have another job, so I could write when I found that it was easiest, and I felt most creative.
Why did you decide to include Pommade Divine in your novel during the scene where the baker Maurice is treating an unconscious & wounded hero, Hiroshi?
As I was writing, it just seemed the obvious thing. What is Maurice going to use to help Hiroshi? What would he have in his medicine case? Pommade Divine was the natural choice. You smell it and you think: this is natural, this is healing, and this is soothing!
How & when did you first discover Pommade Divine?
In the early 90s, through family friends. I still have a couple of old pots of Butler’s Pommade Divine!
Your daughter Leonora runs the successful parenting advice website "My Baba" - did you use Pommade Divine on Leonora as she was growing up?
As soon as I found it, I used it on myself, my husband, my children, and told all my friends. I immediately knew I'd found something that fits into my life.
What are your favourite uses for Pommade Divine?
For grandchildren, it's mainly for bumps, grazed knees and bruises. If my husband cuts himself shaving, he will put it on his face. I often use it as a lip balm and on my cuticles, or if I have dry skin; I also use it for a knock, sprain or bump. It really is multi-purpose!
Would you describe yourself as a "die-hard Pommade Divine fan", in the same way that your son-in-law & co-author describes himself as a long-time "massive fan of James Bond"?
Yes! A devotee. A keen devotee, as are all my family.
Ros Pearl is 62 and lives in County Limerick, Ireland.
You can order A Strange Way To Die by R. Pearl & G. Bamford from Amazon here.