Author Interview: Andrew Tweeddale

I have just finished reading a delightful novel called “Of All Faiths & None” by Andrew Tweeddale, an historical novel following the families of renowned the architect Edwin Lutyens and his client, Sir Julius Drewe, during the building of Castle Drago on Dartmoor. The novel is two love stories rolled into one – the first is the relationship between Christian Drewe, Rose Braithwaite (a nurse) and Peter Hall; the 2nd is the relationship between Edwin Lutyens’ daughter Celia and Adrian Drewe . Then we discover Edwin’s wife, Lady Emily Lutyens, and her fascination with theosophy and with Jiddu Krishnamurti, the philosopher. All entwined with the building of Castle Drogo, and the start of World War One! The novel is based on true events but some characters are purely fictional… but the stories flow, and it is a book of many pages but I enjoyed it so much that I really didn’t want the book to end. I was fully immersed into their lives from page one! I just couldn’t wait to chat to the author of this tale… so welcome Andrew 😊

Hello. I’m Andrew. I started my working life as a chef, working in small hotels and grill-houses before taking additional ‘A levels’ in history and law.  I went on to university to study law and then to law school.  It was there that I formed a long-lasting friendship with three people who I had known from university and who loved history.  I also met my wife there. One of my friends lived near Exeter and one weekend I went to Castle Drogo in Devon which was designed by the great architect Edwin Lutyens. Castle Drogo feels like a shrine to Adrian Drewe, Sir Julius Drewe’s eldest son who died in the Great War, and it seemed to me to be the perfect place to set an anti-war novel. I therefore started writing.  The first draft was completed in April 2010 with the help of a writing group I had joined. However, work and a young family stopped me from taking it further.  In 2021 I decided to retire as a lawyer and went back to the novel.  With the help of two editors, a photographer and book designer the novel was polished up for publication and in September 2022 it went on sale.

Who or what inspired you to research and write your historical novel based on real events, surrounding the building of Castle Drogo on Dartmoor, and the families of the renowned architect Edwin Lutyens and his client Sir Julius Drewe?

I had written two books on arbitration law with my wife and wanted to write something different and had been thinking about an anti-war novel for some months. At the time I had marched against the invasion of Iraq.  My view was that we were too quick to enter that war and diplomacy had not yet failed. Tony Blair’s ‘dodgy dossier’ and the death of Dr David Kelly made me more sceptical about that war.  The rights and wrongs of the Great War were also questionable and there were some similarities with the Great War and the invasion of Afghanistan. When I visited Castle Drogo, it seemed to me to be the perfect place to set a novel, as it showed that war did not differentiate between the very richest and the poorest of society.  The design of Castle Drogo started in 1910 and therefore I decided to base my novel from that date to end of 1917. As it’s a real castle, I thought I had to use the real names of the architect and Sir Julius Drewe as well as their wives’ names.  However, the interrelationship between the characters is a complete work of fiction and therefore I chose to use fictious names for most of the lead characters; i.e., Celia, Christian, Rose and Peter Hall.  Adrian was the exception to this because there is a memorial room to him in Castle Drogo. I also kept the real names of many of the minor characters (Krishnamurti, Basil Drewe, Getrude Jekyll and Mary and Elisabeth Lutyens).

I really enjoyed reading your book, “Of All Faiths & None”.  Although the novel is based on real events, many of the characters are wholly fictitious (although completely believable). I loved the feisty characters of Celia, Lady Emily Lutyens and Rose Braithwaite.  Which characters were challenging to write about?  Do you have any favourite characters?

The hardest character to write about was Krishnamurti, who Lady Emily Lutyens looked after when he came to England from India.  The theosophists, including Emily Lutyens, thought that he would become the World Teacher – a new messiah. The problem with writing about a character like Krishnamurti is that you cannot have any idea what it is like to be hailed as a messiah and how you react to that kind of adulation.  Fortunately, there is a lot written about him so you can get some impression about the person he is and the person he becomes.

My favourite character was Christian and his relationship with Rose Braithwaite. There is an attraction between them but because of the constraints and prejudices of British society it is a relationship that is doomed.

I’m intrigued by the book title – Of All Faiths & None –  Why was it picked and were there any other contenders?

Lutyens designed the Stone of Remembrance, which was to be placed in every World War One cemetery where more than a thousand soldiers had been buried.  When you stand before those stones, knowing that over a thousand graves are behind you of people who were of all faiths and none, you experience the tragedy of the Great War.  ‘Of All Faiths and None’ are words used by the War Graves Commission for the Stone of Remembrance and it just seemed apt to adopt it for the title of the novel. I wanted to convey with the title the devastation that the war caused. The novel had a working title of Castle Drogo.  However, while Castle Drogo is a central to the story it lacks any emotive aspect and therefore I changed it. 

This is your first novel – what a debut! –  and it really comprises three stories entwined into one – the building of Castle Drago; the love triangle of Rose, Christian (Kit) Drewe and Peter Hall; the later relationship between Adrian Drewe and Celia. I absolutely loved the twists and turns and the interconnecting moments. Were there any aspects of writing “Of All Faiths & None “ that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

Yes, it surprised me how the characters evolved in my imagination.  As a litigation lawyer I was used to writing statements setting out people’s recollections of events and motivations.  However, when writing about a fictitious character you need to hear them in your head.  I often have ideas for where I want the story to go but then struggle to get there with the dialogue, because the characters just won’t say what I want them to.  You then have to either change the story or change the motivations that effect the character. Often, I found myself going back and changing the nature of the characters.  This happened with Celia.

Growing up, have you always wanted to be an author or did you have other career aspirations? 

I wanted to be a graphic designer but just wasn’t good enough. 

In fact, as a young teenager, I hardly read at all except for Marvel comics. My parents used to tear their hair out at my complete lack of interest in reading. It was not my late 20s that I matured and started reading prolifically. I then became a lawyer and after doing a few years as a criminal barrister I joined a construction law firm.  However, I never envisaged being a lawyer for all of my working life and wanted to do something different. Writing historical fiction novels offers me the opportunity to be creative as well as constraining me by what has really happened.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

That’s a difficult question.  I have been a bookworm at times, but at other times I hardly read at all.  Currently I am researching about the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya and have recently finished Caroline Elkins’ book and am currently reading Huw Bennett’s book, which are both history books on the subject. My favourite genre is early 20th century as I enjoy the style of writing.  There is an elegance in the prose that we have sadly lost. My favourite authors are John Galsworthy (Forsyte Saga); Somerset Maugham (The Painted Veil) and Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited).  I prefer reading an actual book to a kindle. I have only ever read one book on a kindle and that was two weeks ago (it may grow on me).

Is “Of All Faiths & None” available to purchase worldwide?

It can be purchased via Amazon in USA, Europe, Canada and the UK or as a print to order via Waterstones, the Book Depository and many other outlets.–None-by-Andrew-Tweeddale/9781739612207

So yes, its available worldwide.  Also, I have a few hundred copies in my sister’s garage and in can be ordered directly from me on my website

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why? 

Kenya as this is where the Mau Mau uprising took place. If I am going to write about a place I want to see the country and meet the people.  After that it’s India – because that’s where the third book will be based.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

When I’m at home in Spain I often wear shorts, a white linen shirt and boat shoes.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Some new boat shoes … mine are leaking.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love Turnbull & Asser jackets and Church’s shoes (I just can’t afford them any more).

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes …. You can’t go to the beach in boots

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

(4) Andrew Tweeddale (@AndrewTweeddal1) / Twitter

Thank you Andrew for taking the time for a chat about your wonderful book. It was a splendid read and I’m looking forward to your next book that is based in Kenya, a country with fond memories that I visited in 1990. Many thanks to both Andrew and Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing who sent me a copy of Andrew’s book, Of All Faiths & None , for reviewing purposes. All views that I have expressed are entirely my own. All photographs have been published with kind permission of Andrew Tweeddale, apart from the Pinterest photograph that was taken by me, Linda Hobden.

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