An Interview with Professor Troughton

We're opening the door a little further today, and offering a look inside...

Shadows at the Door writer Christopher Long conducted an interview with one of his own characters over at his marvellous blog, and he asked editor Mark Nixon to do the same. So, I invited Professor Troughton for a cup of tea by the fire and set to work asking him the questions set my Mr Long. I'm not sure the Professor was entirely comfortable, but he hasn't been for some time since the events of Leave a Light On For Me & Silent Warnings...

What do you like to read in your spare time and has it prepared you for living through your own story?

These days my research takes up a most of my time, which is a shame. There was a time when I read a great deal of fiction, particularly when I was a child. Moby Dick was always a favourite, I’d have never thought it would have prepared me for my own stories. But now that you mention it, there’s something about the chase that quite resonates with me now. Who’d have thought it?

I’d long for the days when I feel like I have time to read for pleasure though, there’s a new Chinnery novel I’ve been keen to read for some time now.

Do you think a character should be able to choose their own genre or do you think that would lead to chaos across the bookshelves?

Good lord, no. Granted, every man is the protagonist of his own story but a dull would the world be if he chose the genre? Worse, what a distorted view we’d see if events were shaded in the wrong colours! No, as much as I’d love to be the exception, characters should never have that much power.

If you had to write a story yourself, would it be in the same vein as the story you’re currently living through?

I doubt I’d wish it upon anybody else! My field is non-fiction but if you put a gun to my head then I’d be keen to try my hand at historical fiction, I admit it’s hard not to want to fill the gaps when one comes across a historical blank spot. Speculation is only one step from storytelling Oh, how pretentious I’ve become...

Do you think this story is sharing the greatest moment of your life?

Oh my, no. Graduating with a first at Oxford really was my greatest moment, or perhaps my doctorate. But I suppose although the task is grim, I may have discovered something truly awe-inspiring. I’m beginning to realise how very small we are, humanity that is. 

I mean, I'm a long way from proving it but the consequences are difficult to fully imagine. Perhaps we should change the topic, I have a reputation to protect and credentials to keep.

If you were allowed to edit your story yourself would you cast yourself in the leading role or keep out of the limelight?

If I’m terribly honest I doubt there’s anyone else who could handle it; it’s best if I’m kept in the limelight for now. 

Would you ever want to know the full page count of your story?

Ah, now that’s the beauty of the short story format! My stories are short but no doubt will be plentiful! That’s the way I like to look at it, opportunity to continue. Not just a novel that inevitably marches to fruition.

Have any scenes been cut from your story that you want putting back in place?

I’d pay good money to keep things exactly as they are, I died at the climax of my first story originally. Thank goodness the author came back to me.

If you could ever meet a reader in person would you ask for their review of your story?

I’m not sure, I feel there’s more shared than I would usually be comfortable with. No, I’d rather smile politely at them and walk in the opposite direction as quickly as I could. Possibly toward a brandy. 

Would you rather your story be light and entertaining or leave your readers with questions when it’s finished?

The questions raised in my stories are no laughing matter, and perhaps readers can begin to answer them themselves. 

Are you happy for the problems in your life to be used as catharsis for your readers?

Someone may as well be enjoying themselves.


At which point, the good Professor swapped his tea for something a little stronger. I think it's best we left him there. However, you can expect another Troughton story in the near future!

I'd like to thank Christopher Long for the opportunity to take part in this alarmingly fun exercise and I extend the same invitation to the following:

Helen Grant
Caitlin Marceau
Gwendolyn Kiste

Your questions are as follows:

1. Do you ever suspect your author is keeping something from you?
2. How much control do you have over your author?
3. Have you surprised yourself through your story? 
4. If you could escape your own story, which other story would you sneak into?
5. If you could change the genre of your story, what would you change it to?
6. How would you feel if your author allowed someone else to write you?
7. How do you feel you'd get on with your author's other characters?
8. Are you happy with your treatment? 
9. Has much happened in the moments your author hasn't written?
10. Do you have a message for your readers?

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