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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Take a Trip to London Exclusive Interview with Author Daniel Kemp of The Desolate Garden! Peachy Deegan Interviewed Danny From Across the Pond. Our Coverage Sponsored by Stribling and Associates

Danny Kemp

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During his sixty-four years of life Danny Kemp has been many things, one being a London police officer who was arrested for attempted murder! He pleaded guilty to a lesser offence, but nevertheless, one carrying huge consequences. He was exonerated, with the complainant being held completely responsible for the occurrence that led to that prosecution. After serving time in the police force, Danny diverted into business, first buying an established private hire car service in south east London. Not completely happy there, he conquered the world famous ‘Knowledge,’ a requirement to drive one of those black iconic taxi’s in the UK’s capital. He took an eight year sabbatical from his vocational driving, and became the tenant of three public houses; more commonly known as pubs. He was extremely successful, having the second most busiest establishment across two counties of England, but for personal reasons he left, returning to London where he rediscovered his love of the taxi trade, with its ever changing clientele. 

In November 2006 he was the innocent casualty of a road traffic accident which cost him almost four years of paid employment. It was whilst not being able to work, that he began his career in writing.

In his first attempt he found an agent, but not a publisher. That agent gave Mr. Kemp some sage advice; ‘write another novel and then self publish.’ He argued that at Kemp’s age, with no academic qualifications nor a literary profile, the chances of securing a traditional publishing deal were at best slim, and in reality; non existent. Danny took that advice and wrote The Desolate Garden. Within six weeks of its availability it was read by the Research and Development CEO of a major London film production company. A week later, over lunch in the middle of Soho, Mr. Kemp was paid for a twelve month filming option of his story. 

In the following months a ‘set’ was constructed in the United Arab Emirates and the budget, some $30,000,000’s, secured. It was the timing of all the necessary ingredients coming together that delayed the start. 

That option expired in April of this year, but the film production company were so keen on keeping their option open that they paid a further sum of money to extend the filming contract for another twelve months. 

What impressed that CEO was not only the whole construction of a detailed and most intriguing story, but the dialogue between the two protagonists. In his own words: ‘it was real and not contrived!’ 

From all of these experiences he accumulated another kind of knowledge; that of people. He was a listener and learned well to the nuances of language used by the differing ‘classes’ that he came across. Of all the stories that he has composed the one constant theme that runs through them all is this capacity to write dialogue, brilliantly.

He gained a valuable insight into the pacing of stories whilst starring in a thirteen week radio show, broadcast from New York last year.

Two months ago a short story was published as a Kindle, titled ‘Seventeen.’ It is an account of a botched jewellery robbery in 1990, and for this Kemp drew on his police experience. In the next few weeks a novella titled ‘Why?’ will be released from his publisher, with whom he has that once elusive traditional arrangement. It is completely different from anything he has written before. Perhaps, shocking people with its candid characterization of sex and violence. 

He regularly writes articles, poems and stories for Female First, the UK’s most popular online celebrity gossip and lifestyle magazine, and submits short stories to both Readers Digest and Women’s Weekly, a UK printed publication. Both The London Evening News, and The Sunday Times newspaper have featured his book and the progress he has made since entering the literary world. We are so pleased to present Daniel Kemp as our latest interview in Take a Trip to London. Peachy Deegan interviewed Danny for Whom You Know. Here is our review of The Desolate Garden:

Peachy Deegan: What is your first writing memory?
Daniel Kemp: I wish I could tell you that at the age of four I wrote a deep and meaningful poem but I can’t. However, I can tell you the first, and only time, I falsified a statement.  
I was the radio operator in a fast response police car, one early Monday morning, when two men were reported to have broken through the front door of a house known to be empty of its inhabitants. I found the first of those two housebreakers hiding in a wardrobe. When he came out, his actual words were....“It’s a fair chop guv. You’ve got me.”
I never wrote those words in my report. I figured no one would have believed me! 

What would surprise most people about being a London Police Officer? 
If requested, by a licensed London taxi driver, a Police Officer must provide the use of his ‘cape’ as a means to shield that driver whilst relieving himself at the nearside front wheel of his cab. So states the Licensed Hackney Carriage Act 1843. As I have never come across a Police Officer wearing a cape, I have never asked for this facility to be offered.
On a more serious note, t
imes have changed radically since my day, but one thing that has survived is the Instruction Book. To a Police Officer this is his bible that has to learned almost verbatim. The opening paragraph contains these words: the main principal of a Police Officer is the prevention of crime. As patrolling Police are seldom seen today, apart from in the centre of London, that duty has seemingly been abandoned. The police have become no more than an extension to the social services, arriving after a crime has been committed and attempting to fix the situation with platitudes of good intentions. It is true to say that with forensics, and the advance in DNA, detection has increased, but at the cost of that principal; prevention. 

What should Americans know about the judicial system in the UK? Is it as litigious as it seems to be here? 
Yes, we have become as litigious as you with astronomical amounts of money settled for any slight to a reputation of the famous. On the opposite side of these ‘civil’ settlements, punishment of criminals, particularly pedophiles, is excessively lenient in comparison. People sue for everything, which necessitates the acquisition of insurance, to cover all eventualities.

How did you go about securing an agent? 
After I did some extensive research on the internet, into their likes and dislikes, I sent a printed manuscript to a number of them, perhaps as many as a hundred. A few wrote kind rejection letters, but most ignored me. Then one night the telephone rang and I was accepted by one. I can clearly remember thinking; that’s it, I’ve made it. How naive was that!

What did you learn through writing The Desolate Garden? 
Mainly that I enjoyed telling stories in print but on a negative side; never to trust just a single editor. Always use a professional proofreader. 
There was however, an expensive mistake that I made.
As a heading to each chapter I chose photographs of paintings by two of my favourite artists: Nicola Simbari and Pino Daeni. When I submitted the finished word document to my publisher he said that it was too expensive to reproduce them, and I could run into copyright problems, so I deleted them.The hard copy was perfect, but on publishing the kindle version all the images came flooding back. They were all over the place, even splitting the lines in the narrative! It looked appalling.  
The task of ‘cleaning’ the document could not be done in this country, it had to be sent to India where the job was completed. However, the adulterated kindle was on display for over a month. It affected sales badly in the beginning.

Will there be a sequel to The Desolate Garden? 
I have no plans to do that, but I have used the main male character, Lord Harry Paterson, in a short story that’s been published in a magazine and elsewhere. I have not absolutely given up on the idea of reintroducing him again. 

What were your pubs named and where were they? 
The first was called The White Horse, in Headcorn, Kent. The second was also The White Horse, but in Otham, Kent and whilst having that one I took over another, The King’s Head, Sutton Valence, also in Kent.

What should everyone know about owning and running a pub in England? 
It’s hard work! In a way it’s similar to writing, tiring and time consuming. Either something you love or detest intensely. I loved the life, but the life ruined me. Before taking a pub I was simply a ‘social’ drinker, by the time I left I was an alcoholic. When I was in that environment I would drink a bottle of whiskey every day without ever having a hangover. I seldom drink today, and if I do, it’s half a glass of red wine topped up with cold water.

What should everyone know about owning and running a taxi in England?
I can only speak about London in regards to this question. 
According to that 1853 Act of Parliament I previously mentioned, it is still a requirement to carry a ‘bale of hay’ in the boot of a cab. Horses to pull that cab are not obligatory. We are very progressive in London!
Here, to drive a cab, you have to do what is called ‘The Knowledge of London.’ This has been described as requiring the same depth of memory as that of a brain surgeon when studying. Apparently, we have a part of our brain which is more receptive to stored knowledge than most people. London is an enormous City, and cab drivers are expected to know the location of almost everything within a six mile radius of Charing Cross Station, close to Trafalgar Square and the centre.
Taxis are maintained to a high quality and are inspected regularly, as would be expected when carrying members of the public. The drivers must pass strict criteria before being accepted to do the ‘Knowledge’ and do not get paid whilst doing it. The whole procedure can take many years to pass depending on how much time can be spent in its duration. Of the numbers that start, only a small percentage see it through until the end. 

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
Myself. I am my own worse enemy in this. I detest seeing any mistakes that I make.

What are you proudest of and why? 
Marrying the best women in the world. She had faith in me when I was an alcoholic and has maintained that faith all the way through our eighteen years of marriage. I hope I never let her down.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
Write full time, not only stories but poems as well. It’s in poetry that I escape.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
The Desolate Garden was awarded a prize for ‘Quality Of Work’ from the publisher but other than that, none. I have never sought any.

What one word best describes you and why? 
Persistent. I know no other way to be.

What is your favorite place to be in London? 
Around St James’s. Jermyn Street for the clothes shops, and the surrounds for the art galleries and antiques.

What is your favorite shop in London? 
A toss-up between Hatchards, the bookstore, and Lladró, the porcelain makers. Almost next door to one another in Piccadilly.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why? 
Max Clifford. Despite the recent allegations, he is a brilliant publicist. 

What is your favorite drink? 
A mocha.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
I turned up at one many years ago where all the waiters were naked apart from a frilly apron covering their lower fronts. Someone asked for a ‘Beach bums Own,’ and the salutation of, ‘bottoms up,’ at the clicking of glasses, was regularly heard. I’m told that this is quite common nowadays, but I have managed to avoid any nakedness since.

What is your favorite restaurant in London? 
The Wolseley. 160 Piccadilly, next door to The Ritz Hotel.

What is your favorite London book or favorite character in London literature? 
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with George Smiley. Sir Alec Guinness played the role in the BBC adaptation of the book, and I had the privilege of meeting him on two occasions. 

Who would you like to be for a day and why? 
My bank manager. Then I could write off all my debts!

If you could have anything in London named after you what would it be and why? 
I have never been that self-seeking to want anything named after me. 

What has been your best London athletic experience? 
I played rugby union for the Metropolitan Police all over London and many places in the UK. As far as athletics go, then I have run around the old Crystal Place track and taken part in some field events there, but I preferred rugby and cricket to athletics.

What is your favorite thing to do in London that you can do nowhere else? 
Look upstream from Waterloo Bridge at sunset. A magnificent view!

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
My father who died when I was sixteen. I would ask him what he got up to, for ten months at the end of his six year war service through North Africa and Sicily, when stationed in Italy as part of the occupying force after that country surrendered. I bet his answers could have filled a gigantic book!

What has been your best London art or music experience? 
Taking my granddaughter to both The National Gallery and to the ballet at Covent Garden. Just to see her wide, excited eyes was reward enough. 

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world? 
Not enough, would be the right answer I guess.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in London? 
Overrated I think is the cruise along the River Thames. The boat goes so slowly that you’re looking at the same building for ages. Any building of interest, that has a river frontage, can be viewed from adjoining roads or nearby bridges.
I have two as being underrated and rarely pubicized. The first being the water bus trip that travels along the Regent's Canal, stretching from Paddington to Limehouse. A distance of some ten miles or so. The canal starts at Little Venice passing Maida Vale with many colorfully decorative houseboats along the way. Glimpse Regency architecture and explore London’s industrial history as you pass Primrose Hill and the bustling Camden Lock. It’s a perfect way to discover sections of London that would be missed by any other mode of transport.
Then, if I you have children, this might be something you would enjoy. There are regular evening events at The Zoo during the summer months, which offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy cocktails at the penguin pool, live entertainment and a chance to see the nocturnal animal exhibits. A number of ‘Keeper Talks’ are also offered and children are able to interact with tame domestic animals, such as rabbits, in the zoo's contact area.

Other than Read This and Take a Trip to London of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
I follow the column on Mayor Bloomberg. Comparing what he is trying to do in New York to our own Mayor, Boris Johnson, and his efforts in London. Your official seems to be more dedicated to the betterment of your city, being less comical than ours with his self-aggrandisement.

Have you tried The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not? 
I haven’t. As I said I’m not a drinker. However, my wife has sampled one. 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I have a sense of humour and.......I am rude, I’m outrageous.
I’m obscene, I’m a swine.
I cannot string two words together,
I swear all the time.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? 
There are many ways in which this can be done:

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