Monday, February 24, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Chris R. Pownall, Author

Chris R. Pownall, Author

Using humor as his hallmark, British author Chris R. Pownall has published six books, including his memoirs as well as his most recent book SPANNING A LIFETIME highlighting his favorite bridges. Oh, and under pseudonym Rusty Nocks, he also published two erotic stories.

When Pownall retired from his mechanical engineering career, he grew quickly bored. He turned to writing “to challenge the mind and exercise the brain.” He discovered that he had plenty of material to write, given his extensive travels and challenging projects. When he’s not writing, Pownall spends his time with his wife exercising and travelling, because he considers himself “primarily a family man.”

Don’t miss an excerpt from THIS IS THE LIFE following his interview.

Q: You have published six books that are autobiographical or descriptive of people or locations in your life, and you have written two erotic stories (under pseudonym Rusty Nock). Your most recent book SPANNING A LIFETIME describes your favorite bridges. What makes bridges so compelling that you would write a book about them?

Chris R. Pownall: I have always had a keen interest in bridges, both from an architectural style and composition perspective, as well as an appreciation for their engineering design and the construction materials used.

Some bridges are iconic symbols of a nation’s greatness, both historically and into the future. I have been privileged to visit some of the world’s most amazing bridges and I wished to share my experiences with others less fortunate in their ability to travel.

All the bridges featured in SPANNING A LIFETIME provide links to associated stories about my travels and experiences throughout my three score years and ten.

Q: Three of your books, FUNNY HOW THINGS WORK OUT; THIS IS THE LIFE; and ONWARDS AND UPWARDS tell your personal story. How do you select the moments of your life to write about?

Chris R. Pownall: To begin with, I draught (i.e., “draft” for Americans) a basic structure and framework into which the details of my anecdotal stories will be formatted. I make notes when I search my mind for things that I consider suitable material for my particular theme.

Once I get started, I find that one thing triggers another, and I am very fortunate that my memory store is accessible and allows me to draw upon moments in my life that I consider interesting and amusing. If I focus upon a particular period or subject, my mind appears to go into search mode and it might be several days before I retrieve what I’m seeking. Unfortunately, this very often occurs at 03:00 am in the morning.

Q: I notice you have a strong sense of humor. How relevant is humor to your books?

Chris R. Pownall: Highly relevant, I would say, as humor has played a major role in my life in most everyday situations. I observe humor all around me, both in others, and the course, the self-effacing variety. I have used humor throughout my working life both in my presentational style, and in the development of business relationships. Without humor, my books would have little relevance whatsoever.

Q: How do you make “you” a compelling character? What do you do to develop “you” as the protagonist?

Chris R. Pownall: I am a bit of a ‘Mr. Bean’ type person, and I have the reputation of being there when things go wrong. This has contributed to the character of me and what I am. I have never been afraid to push boundaries and this philosophy has got me into all manner of scrapes. They say life is what you make it and to some extent, I believe this is true. However, I consider myself highly fortunate and I exploit my experiences from a humorous perspective, hopefully, without playing the fool.

I do have a serious side when it comes to work ethic and family life, and I try to emphasize these values when writing about myself.

Apart from what the future might unfold, my retrospective autobiographical work is now complete, and my literary skills, if I have any, will be directed towards other forms of literary expression.

Q: What made you decide to write your son’s story recovering from a head injury, A LONG JOURNEY BACK? It must have been difficult to write such a personal story.

Chris R. Pownall:  I had a conscience that when writing FUNNY HOW THINGS WORK OUT & ONWARDS AND UPWARDS, I had purposely omitted the tragic event of our son Robert’s accident. They were books focusing upon the humorous aspects of my life, and I never considered including the unhappy times.

Afterwards, I realized that Robert’s story affected each member of the family and I felt a compelling need to record what happened, plus my immense respect and admiration of how Robert, together with his mother and sister handled this very difficult time. I also thought it might serve as an inspiration to others faced with a similar dilemma and demonstrate what Robert achieved through sheer guts and determination in regaining his life, after what at the time seemed a hopeless situation.

This was the most difficult piece of writing to date, as it triggered past emotions, which were difficult to bear. I’m pleased I did it, as it gave me lots of time to reflect, upon the past, and it made me realize that life is not all about humor and happy times. 

Q: What made you decide to write erotica (under pseudonym Rusty Nock DEBAUCHEROUS DESIRES and SALACIOUS SEDUCTIONS) in addition to your other books? Is humor relevant in these books as well? (I do love those titles!)

Chris R. Pownall: At the time when Fifty Shades of Grey was receiving mega publicity, I thought to myself, I can write something of a similar nature, but with the addition of some subtle humor. Initially, I invented Rusty Nock to maintain my anonymity from this particular genre. However, the truth was soon out and my association with Rusty is widely known.

Q: Do you write your autobiographical books and/or your erotica novels strictly to entertain or do you also want to deliver a message?  Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?

Chris R. Pownall: My autobiographical books contain specific messages regarding my opinions and views on life. These are not deep messages, rather values and standards in everyday life, as well work ethics within the business world.

I must admit that I have found writing fiction far more challenging, whilst at the same time, the most emotionally rewarding, when good creativity is achieved. My most enjoyable book to write was DANE MILLS BOSLEY as this involved some considerable research into matters of social and industrial history. The autobiographical stuff was easy, as it was all in my head and just needed expressing in the written word. I am aware of my limited technical writing skills, and I shall aim to improve as my literary world moves forward.

Q: Who are the most likely readers to appreciate your autobiographical books? Who is most likely to care about bridges?

Chris R. Pownall: Initially those who have known me, but I have been amazed by the interest of some who have shared in my humor and appreciated my views on life.

As far as bridges are concerned, I don’t expect SPANNING A LIFETIME to be a best seller. I didn’t do it for that reason. I simply find bridges amazing structures, and they provided a means of allowing me to indulge in writing about some more things in my life which have produced such great pleasure.

I also have a fascination with historic ships, and I have used my selected bridges wherever appropriate, to incorporate some of my favorite vessels.

Q: What made you decide to start writing?

Chris R. Pownall: I was encouraged to write my memoirs by a number of my work colleagues, and things developed from there. Retirement didn’t come easy for me, and I needed something to challenge the mind and exercise the brain. Writing has given me a pastime and an interest, which I greatly appreciate.

Q: What’s next?

Chris R. Pownall: I am currently in a state of contemplation regarding any further literary work. I’ve exhausted my autobiographical stuff and now need to move on to other genre. I found writing fiction very difficult and I’m unsure whether I could find the stamina to attempt another novel.

It has crossed my mind that I should like to write a biography of someone who has led an interesting life but does not have the means to put the story into print. It’s a matter of finding the right person for this project, and I’m searching for ideas of how I might take the concept forward.

On the other hand, Rusty Nock might be persuaded to write another erotic novel, this time bringing the exploits of the Brown family up to date!! 

Q:  Tell us about Chris R. Pownall. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Chris R. Pownall: I am very much a family man and I spend a lot of time with my wife Pat, when we share our thoughts and opinions about everyday life. We both like to take exercise and we are extremely fortunate to reside not too far from Sherwood Forest and Clumber Park. We love to walk around the lake in Clumber, in all weathers; we find it enjoyable and beneficial to our mental and physical health.

We both appreciate foreign travel, and since our retirement, we have taken several cruises to various parts of the globe. I always carry my notebook and pen, as you never know what you might see or experience.

I could provide a very long list of things that I don’t do, but that isn’t what you asked. My life is very simple and uncomplicated, and that’s just how I want it to continue.

About Chris R. Pownall

Chris R. Pownall is a British author of six books that are autobiographical or descriptive of people or locations in his life, and two erotic stories (under pseudonym Rusty Nock), who now resides in Nottinghamshire England.

A mechanical engineer by trade, Pownall also joined the Merchant Navy, serving with the famous Blue Funnel Line as an Assistant Engineering Officer. After leaving the Merchant Navy, his career was to take him on many overseas travels, and in the last two years of his employment, he focused upon writing strategic market plans for some existing, plus new sales territories.

Although Chris has a loving wife Pat, retirement didn’t come easy, and after a few months, he was missing the demands of his occupation, with the days seeming endless. He decided to take up writing and to date he has published six books, with a possibility of more on the way. Writing has provided Chris with a retirement interest, as well as a major challenge, giving him great satisfaction, when a difficult project is finally completed.

Humor has always played an important part in Chris’ life, which manifests itself in his written work. He has witnessed many amusing situations throughout seven decades of life and he has appreciated the humorous side of everyday living.

Chris has recently had a feature published in the magazine ‘Shipping Today & Yesterday’. It is entitled S.S. Talthybius 1944 to 1971, which was the Blue Funnel Ship on which he sailed to the Far East in 1967. The voyage included a visit to Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China at the height of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution, under the chairmanship of leader Moa Zedong. The story of what happened during this visit is detailed in Chris’ memoirs.

About Chris R. Pownall’s Books

The first of Pownall’s memoirs contains a few revelations that might make some individuals cringe. True to say, Pownall has had a colorful life and his employment has provided much opportunity to travel to faraway places, and experience many interesting things. With the exception of the first three chapters, the book is not structured in chronological sequence; instead it covers specific subject matters in separate chapters, which overlap in time. The book focuses upon the humorous aspects of Pownall’s life, which have occurred in many forms.

This sequel to FUNNY HOW THINGS WORK OUT comprises much more humor and revelations about Pownall’s life, all set out in a very different style to the first book. Readers will find something to suit most aspects of interest, including travel, social history, viewpoints & opinions, plus much more, all wrapped up in a humorous package.

The author says this was his most difficult literary task to date, as it tells the true life story about his 41 year old son Robert, who at the age of 18, suffered a near fatal head injury. He found it very emotional writing about such sad and worrying times, but felt the need to go public about the tremendous determination and courage on Rob’s part, in regaining his life.

The book explains what happened following the accident, including life-saving neurosurgery, time spent in a coma, plus the very long haul through rehabilitation. The author wanted to pay his respects to his wife Pat and daughter Tracey, who were unbelievably brave at Rob’s most critical time of need, and their support and encouragement was an amazing inspiration to anyone faced with a similar situation.

Whilst Rob made a remarkable recovery, he was left with some physical difficulties and the book describes how he managed these problems over a twenty year period in a highly professional job.

As the years have passed by, Rob’s physical disabilities have deteriorated and employment has become a problem. The book concludes with Rob explaining how he has combatted discrimination towards disability, and he gives advice to others in similar circumstances.

Pownall claims this is his most enjoyable literary project to date. It’s about two mills in rural Cheshire, where he served his engineering apprenticeship between 1958 and 1966. These mills have a very long history dating back to circa 1766, when they were constructed by the famous industrialist Charles Roe. He provides an overview of the history, and describes the business during his period of employment, explaining the manufacturing processes involved, plus details of all the machinery and it works.

His main objective in writing this book was to capture the culture of the place which he  achieves with anecdotal stories about many of his fellow workers. Social historians will find these stories interesting and many of them are highly amusing.

The third in his autobiographical works, containing many subjects omitted from the previous two. He supplies more details about his childhood, describing what country lads did during the 1940s and 1950s, their leisure activities, and the games they played. He recalls specific memories of the market towns of Macclesfield and Leek during the 1960s & 1970s, plus his attending Congleton Senior Boys School between 1954 & 1958. As Congleton was not his home town, after leaving school he lost contact with his fellow pupils. Part of his research for this book was to try and trace any class mates from form 3rd Tech ‘A’, and the results are detailed in the book. He wanted to discover what some of these lads have achieved in their lives, having all failed their 11+ examination, like the author.

Readers will be amazed at the results as well as learning about the very strict disciplinary regimes in place at that time. “Teachers of today would be imprisoned for repeating some of the things that took place in my time. Having said that, we had the utmost respect for our teachers as those who read my book will discover”

The author’s most recent book is about bridges with associated stories. Pownall has always appreciated the structure of bridges, be they small or large, and constructed from stone, timber, concrete, iron & steel, aluminum, or a combination of any, or all of these materials. Not only does he find most bridges “very pleasing on the eye”, but he admires the architectural and engineering design that goes into building them.

The bridges described in this book are included for various reasons. Some invoke specific memories, whereas others rate particularly high, within the author’s league table of great bridges. They are all bridges that he has either crossed over, passed beneath, or simply visited, some close to home, and others from global travels.

Pownall believes bridges are amazing structures, and marvels at how ancient civilizations, including the Romans, were capable of designing and constructing bridges from timber and natural stone. He believes that bridges are symbols of a nation’s development, with bigger and longer structures now being constructed in many parts of the world.


This excerpt is taken from my book entitled THIS IS THE LIFE, chapter 4 ‘Memories of Leek’. Leek is a small market town in the county of Staffordshire, England. This is the place where I met my wife Pat, and where we first resided following our marriage in 1969.

The Grand Cinema
I remember visiting the Grand Cinema, and the film on show that week was ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’. This would have been in the early 1960’s and there was a lot of hype about this particular film. It was billed as the most scary horror film around, and as a precaution, there would be a qualified nurse attending every showing, in case any member of the audience was to faint from fear or fright.

When I arrived at the cinema, sure enough, there was a nurse in the foyer all adding to the anticipation of what we were going to see. I remember thinking, that wasn’t a real nurse as her uniform looked something like one of those uniforms you might have seen in the film ‘Carry on Nurse’!!

Anyway, the film began to roll, and for those of you who have not seen this film before, it’s all to do with a torture chamber, hidden in the cellars of a Medieval Castle. Within this chamber there are the most horrific methods of torture imaginable, including the pendulum, for which you have wait until the last bit of the film.

The music featured highly in the presentation of the horror and passion, and there was one particular scene that caught someone off guard.

We had been shown a most gruesome piece of torturing apparatus, comprising a steel chest that resembled a large bank safe. On the front of this safe was a heavily constructed steel door on which there were a number of steel spikes about a foot in length. The idea being that when some poor victim was forced to sit inside the chest, and the door was slammed shut, the occupant would be spiked to death, in a most dreadful manner. The door also had a peephole strategically positioned, so that you could see the face of the poor sod, when all the spikes had penetrated his trembling body.

A handcuffed individual was brought into the torture chamber and thrown into this dreadful contraption. You could see all the horrendous spikes, some with bloodstains from previous killings.

The music was beginning to build louder and louder as the time approached for the door to be slammed shut. At this moment, a lady appeared in one of the aisles selling ice creams. All this time, the music was getting louder and louder as a queue was forming for those wishing to purchase an ice cream.

As the door in the death chest slammed shut, there appeared a huge blood shot eye, which completely filled the screen. The music then culminated in the loudest crescendo I had ever heard. Then, there was total silence as the music cut dead. All that could be heard in the auditorium was someone shouting out in an incredibly loud voice, “A Tub and a lolly.”

They had obviously pitched their voice so that they could be heard above the horrendous volume of music, but when the actual words came out, the auditorium was in total silence.

The place erupted in laughter, and it was quite some time before things settled down and we could once again return to the morbid atmosphere of a horror movie.

Author and Purchasing Links

Web site

Twitter:  @bosleyboy

Please note that all Pownall’s books are available from Amazon both as paperbacks, as well as Kindle versions. Simply type Chris R. Pownall into the Amazon website ‘books’ search bar and they will all appear. This applies to Amazon UK, plus all the other Amazon global companies.

For details of Pownall’s erotic fictional work, please refer to Rusty Nocks website

Published in the UK by ‘Pneuma Springs Publishing’. Please use the following link -

Published in the UK by ‘Pneuma Springs Publishing’. Please use the following link -

Published in the UK by ‘Pneuma Springs Publishing’. Please use the following link -

Published in the UK by Pneuma Springs Publishing. Please use the following link -

Amazon UK      


Monday, February 3, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author C. Edward Baldwin

C. Edward Baldwin, Author
C. Edward Baldwin brings us FATHERS HOUSE a novel about “a deadly combination of grimy thugs, corruption, murders and last but not least – intrigue” according to a reviewer. Others tout the novel as a "tense thriller" with "compelling character development." Baldwin values "believability" as well. He wanted to write an entertaining book with "messages buried within."

Baldwin turned to writing after more than 20 years as an insurance claims investigator. He is engrossed in writing his next novel, and also spends time with his wife and two boys. Oh, and he coaches a mitey-mite football team that is undefeated after two years.

Q: What influenced your writing of FATHERS HOUSE? Why did you write this story?

C. Edward Baldwin: I read a news article once about a town where the police department was misleading the public about the rate of crime. Some arrests for violent crimes were being factored into the statistics. So, it appeared that the crime rate was much lower than it actually was. So, that was the basis for the plot. The rest of the story, a crime syndicate working in cahoots with public officials was my imagination running wild.

Q: Is FATHERS HOUSE a story about fatherhood?

C. Edward Baldwin: Fatherhood is a central theme in the story, although the story encompasses some other themes as well. My second son was born a year into my writing the manuscript. He's six years younger than my first son. All the anxiety I felt about being a father returned again and crept into my writing. In fact, the working title of my manuscript was not Fathers House, nor was the character Mayo's last name, Fathers. Those changes were made later when the father motif reared its head.

Q: Reviewers praise FATHERS HOUSE as a “tense thriller” with many “twists and turns.”  How do you create suspense? What makes a thriller?

C. Edward Baldwin: That's a good question. For me, a good suspense story lets readers know early on that some type of danger or traumatic event is on the horizon and it's up to the hero/heroine to figure out what's going on and how to save the day.  As for a thriller, I think the major element of a good one is when the hero is sucked into someone else's scheme and has to figure out a way to get out of it.

Q:  In addition to touting the suspense of FATHERS HOUSE, reviewers also cite your “compelling character development.” Did you base any of your characters on real people? What did you do to make readers care about them?

C. Edward Baldwin: My characters weren't based on anyone I know; at least they weren't consciously based on anyone that I know. I tried to make them human, in other words, I wanted them to do and feel many of the things that we as people do and feel every day. For instance, there's a scene where the protagonist Ben Lovison is cleaning a bathroom in anticipation of his wife's return from the hospital. Part of the reason for him doing that is because he wants the place nice for her return; but another reason is he's embarrassed by how dirty he'd kept the place.  Another character, Leo Johnston, recently divorced goes to a Bojangles to eat because he doesn't want to eat alone in an empty house. I feel that we all are connected in that we have some of the same fears, desires, needs, etc. and I believe that when my characters exhibit some of those same qualities, people will naturally relate to them.

Q:  One of your reviewers said ”I found the antagonist Father a different kind of villain.” What are the characteristics of a typical villain and why is your antagonist different? Does a hero need a villain in order to be a hero?

C. Edward Baldwin: A good villain is bad to his core. He has an agenda, be it to steal, rob, or kill, and he will let nothing stand in his way to achieve that agenda. He's heartless, selfish, but extremely intelligent. Fathers House's antagonist, Father is all those aforementioned things, heartless, selfish, and extremely intelligent. But unlike typical bad guys, Father's motivation isn't simply to get riches or to kill. In fact, he doesn't care about material goods. And when he kills or has someone killed, it's not for the joy of the kill. In his mind, a killing may be necessary so it's carried out. Father's motivation is power, not fame or fortune; but power. Make no mistake; fortune represents a means to obtain the power. But power is what he wants and he intends to get it at any cost.

Q: Did you write FATHERS HOUSE to deliver a message? To educate? To entertain?

C. Edward Baldwin: I wanted to write a story that was entertaining, yet had some messages buried within. But I didn't want to hit anybody over the head with messages. I dislike preachy books, so I tried hard not to create one. Some folks want to read a story without thinking about anything while some people like me like stories with a little teeth in them. I love figuring out symbolism and what not, so I tried to strike a happy medium.

Q: When writing, are you in control of your characters or do they push you around?

C. Edward Baldwin: I'm in total control of my characters; however I will listen to them. Sometimes they'll tell me something interesting about their background that I hadn't considered before.

Q: How important is back story and/or setting to telling FATHERS HOUSE, particularly regarding the activities of a district attorney’s office? What did you do to enhance credibility?  How important is believability to your story?

C. Edward Baldwin: Believability is very important for me. I was fortunate in that my youngest brother dated a federal prosecutor at one point during the writing and I've worked nearly twenty years as an insurance claims investigator, so I sort of combined those experiences with my imagination. In addition, I researched the web and discovered a district attorney's office where they'd started going "green" getting rid of paper files. The company they were using had interviewed some of the prosecutors and put the video on the web for marketing purposes. Paperless files are a major part of Fathers House plot, so I was very fortunate to stumble across that.

Q: What’s next?

C. Edward Baldwin: I'm deep into writing my second novel and hope to have a first draft completed within the next several weeks. 

Q: Tell us about C. Edward Baldwin. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

C. Edward Baldwin: I'm a father and husband, which keep me extremely busy. In addition, I coach a mitey-mite football team during the fall. We've gone undefeated two years in a row, which I've enjoyed tremendously. When I'm not writing, I'm reading. I love good books. Currently I'm reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.

About C. Edward Baldwin

C. Edward Baldwin spent nearly twenty years as an insurance claims investigator before embarking on a writing career. He and his wife Natasha and their two boys currently reside in Raleigh, NC.

Ben moved to Fathers House at the age of thirteen, shortly after the brutal murder of his mother in broad daylight in front of their home. It was Mayo Fathers, proprietor of Fathers House who encouraged Ben to finish school, attend college and law school. Uncle Mayo (as he liked his boys to call him), was also instrumental in getting Ben his job with the district attorney’s office. But eight years later after the salvage, fatal beating of one of the city’s teenagers, Ben soon learns that Fathers House has a dark side and a seedy connection with the city of Duraleigh. He also fears that Fathers House may have been involved in the death of his mother and the disappearance of the father that he never met.

Purchase and Author Links

Twitter address: @WinCurt