Richard Harvell is the author of the best-selling novel The Bells, which tells the story of an 18th century “castrato” opera singer called Moses. The book has already been translated into a dozen languages but, like many writers, Richard Harvell had to deal with rejection before he got published. Here he offers some advice:
Richard Harvell (Standard American accent)
When I was writing short stories and struggling to get those published, the best advice that I got was, “Make it a game to try to get rejections and try to get 100 rejections in a year” and… and I did manage to get 100 rejections in a year, at some point, and I think… and published three stories in that time, but those three stories, it was great that I got those three stories published!
We then asked him what he was working on at the moment:
I’ve been working on a… on a book now that’s set in Egypt in 1798, during Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, which is a fascinating time because it’s the first time that… that… modern Europeans visited Egypt, visited the Islamic world and visited all of these sites of ancient Egypt. It’s got themes of the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone in it, but then also the… the place that opera plays in this book of… of… influencing the style and the stories is then played in that book by the… A Thousand and One Nights.
And in conclusion we asked him about the appeal of opera:
I always loved… loved… theatre, I loved Shakespeare or modern theatre and I always… I never really enjoyed going to classical music concerts, and then, when I first went to opera, it has something that theatre doesn’t have, this… this ability to… to tunnel to sort of the emotion… the emotional part of a person, without… somehow it bypasses the whole head… and yet it was… it’s still about people and there’s still a story that… that one can come away with, grasping onto. I was also inspired by… opera’s not afraid of being melodramatic, and it’s not afraid of… of… of having love and death… and I think, as a writer, and that was certainly the mistake of… of… or the… the thing that I had to learn with this book is… is to let myself go and… and to talk about and to write in a certain… allow myself to be melodramatic at times and… and to be able to speak through Moses, who was an opera singer, made that possible.
(Richard Harvell was talking to Mark Worden).