Robert Goddard was born in Hampshire in 1954. He was educated at Price’s School, Fareham, and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read History. After qualifying as a teacher, he worked as a local government officer for ten years before becoming a full-time novelist.
Robert Goddard describes how and why he became a writer:
I was a writer, in the sense of being a storyteller - an avid elaborator and refashioner of events for my own and others’ entertainment - from my childhood on. I was also an eager student of history, spending every Saturday I could in the local reference library poring over history books in a bid to understand the world I grew up in. These two impulses - to alter reality and also to master it - are the foundations of my fiction. At that time, I also thought being a novelist would be enormously glamorous. I imagined myself emerging from steam-wreathed railway stations in exotic locations with a typewriter and a whisky bottle in my bag, a knowing smile playing around my lips.
Glamour is actually in short supply for novelists, other than what figures in the stories they create. So is financial security, of course, which is why I tried, soberly and sensibly, to apply myself to other career options after university, only to discover that I wasn’t cut out for any of them. It became painfully clear that I was a writer or nothing. But what sort of writer?
I was frustrated and disappointed by a lot of contemporary fiction I read in the 1970s and 1980s, so I set out to write a novel that did what I wanted more novels to do: tell a tightly constructed and densely plotted story engrossingly and satisfyingly. This involves a lot of planning, a part of the process I enjoyed greatly from the start. Naturally, it also requires a central idea for the story to grow from.
I recall worrying during the writing of that first book, Past Caring, that ideas for future books might be hard to come by. But it hasn’t worked out like that. One idea seems to give birth to another. It’s become an addictive occupation, for me and, I’m glad to say, for many of my readers. And it’s not an addiction I have any intention of trying to kick. I’m in it for life.
Tuesday 11th September
HAMPSTEAD AND HIGHATE LITERARY FESTIVAL
Robert Goddard in conversation with Peter Guttridge
Venue: London Jewish Cultural Centre, Ivy House, 94-96 North End Rd, London NW11 7SX
Tickets: by phone on 020 8511 7900 or online:
Thursday 13th September
Join Robert Goddard for his talk in Chatham Library, including Q&A and book signings.
Venue: Chatham Community Hub, Gun Wharf, Dock Rd, Chatham ME4 4TX
Tuesday 18th September
GUILDFORD BOOK FESTIVAL
Robert Goddard will be appearing at the Guildford Book Festival, including Q&A and book signings.
Wednesday 19th September
THE CHORLEYWOOD BOOKSHOP
Venue: The Chorleywood Memorial Hall
Common Road, Chorleywood WD3 5LN
Tickets: £10, which includes a copy of the book and a glass of wine
Tel: 01923 283566