Today I’m delighted to feature author April Doyle. Her debut novel Hive, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Exeter Novel Prize, is a compelling and chilling tale set in a near dystopian future.
April Doyle is a writer, tutor and editor who lives in rural Kent with her husband and two sons. She has been teaching creative writing since 2012. April’s short stories have been published in women’s magazines in the UK and Australia, and her short story Elsewhere was published in an anthology Tales From Elsewhere in 2016. Her short story Rise on the Wings was longlisted for the 2019 Mslexia Short Story competition.
Over to April :
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
This is such a difficult question! It’s hard enough trying to choose 8 discs for my imaginary appearance on Desert Island Discs… Ask me again next week and I might have a different answer.
Boys of Summer – Don Henley (single, 1984). The eighties were SUCH a great time for music. So many tracks I could have chosen… I was a teenager when this came out and full of feelings I didn’t know what to do with. I made a mix tape with this song back-to-back on the whole tape. I probably drove my family crazy. I still love this song.
Random Access Memories – Daft Punk (album,2013). This album reminds me of my very own boys of summer: my husband and two sons. Each time we set off on a road trip we have an album in the car which becomes the soundtrack to the holiday. Every time I hear this one I’m straight back to a golden autumn week in the Peak District when the boys were little.
Walking in Memphis – Mark Cohn (single, 1991). I’ve chosen this for my best friend and all the road trips and adventures we’ve shared together, from the Bahamas to Abergavenny. This song reminds me of the open road, windows down, singing as loud as we possibly can. Hope we’ll still be doing it when we’re in our eighties.
Gorilla – Little Simz (single, 2022). Oh my goodness I love Little Simz. Think I probably heard her first on Radio 6 Music. She’s such an amazing performer and it was really hard to choose one of her songs for this list! Something I can listen to with the boys without feeling like a dinosaur.
Lost in the Dream – War on Drugs (album 2014). Another Radio 6 Music discovery. I was lucky enough to see them play at the Green Man festival a few summers ago, it was incredible to see them play live. They were also the soundtrack to when I was writing Hive. I often have a playlist when I’m writing, usually a particular album or artist. Listening to the same songs on a loop takes me to the writing place and helps me to settle into it.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Tea bags. Yorkshire tea. Yorkshire Gold for preference. I drink a LOT of tea. Way back when I used to do a lot of traveling, a really good cuppa was one of the things I missed the most.
Chocolate. Nuff said?
Elvis the Beagle. Somehow I got to my mid-forties before I knew I was a dog person*. I have my best friend to thank for this, too. We adopted Elvis from her eight years ago, and honestly… If you’re a dog person you’ll know.
*Full disclosure, I love cats too. Please don’t @ me.
Crochet. Again, I’m a late starter. I found a how-to video on YouTube a few years ago and I haven’t looked back. Yes, it’s addictive. But it’s very good for the soul, and who doesn’t love a cosy blanket? Everyone in the house has at least two and now I’ve moved on to making blankets for friends and family.
Books. Books are everything. (I feel like I’m probably preaching to the choir here.)
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
It’s okay to be shy. (Really wish I’d figured this out earlier.)
Try not to compare yourself to other people. (Still working on this one.)
Before you say yes to things, think about what you’d really like to do.
I promise you, you’ll be happier if you stop weighing yourself.
Don’t get the Limahl haircut, love. Yes, your hair will grow back eventually, but it’s going to take a looooong time. Especially where he shaved it at the sides.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I was a Chuckie Egg addict.
Once I won a cuddly Roland Rat in a radio limerick competition.
I’ve been interviewed by the FBI.
I used to paint murals for a living.
Sir David Attenborough wrote me a lovely letter about my book.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
See the Northern Lights
Find an agent for my next novel
Go to another music festival
Write a best-seller
Learn how to keep bees
Many thanks for joining me today April, lovely to discover more about you. With a love of Yorkshire Tea, chocolate, books and dogs I’m sure we’d get along. As someone who is still struggling with crochet I need to discover which video you uncovered on YouTube. I have some empathy with your Limahl moment. I had my waist length hair cut to look like David Cassidy’s, those layers took forever to grow out – though I still have the initial pony tail the hairdresser cut off! A fine example of how I should have thought more about things before I said yes. I think we definitely need to know more about your FBI interview. I’d love to see the Northern Lights too, we seem to be in good company on that one. Fingers crossed you’re not long finding an agent for your next novel and good luck with the bees – we really need to make sure we nurture them.
Climate change has led to food shortages and civil unrest.
Pollinating insects are in steep decline.
Commercial bee farmer Victor Martin travels around the farms of Kent with his hives to pollinate fruit trees and crops.
Local research entomologist Dr Annie Abrams is devastated when she’s ordered to give up her captive bee colonies – her life’s work – to join forces with Victor and ensure a harvest.
But the bees are dying.
Their only hope seems to be an experimental alternative to insect pollination: robot pollinators called nanodrones. But why does the drone designer seem so familiar? And who is behind the shadowy organisation intent on sabotaging their vital work?
Can Annie and Victor win their battle to save the bees… or is it too late?
Tales from Elsewhere (anthology of short stories)
After a weekend together in the countryside, a group of online writer friends from across the UK decided to produce an anthology. The result is nine short stories that explore the world of being ‘elsewhere’. Some are dark. Some are hopeful. All capture journeys through the real world and the corners of the psyche.
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