Peep Show actor Paul Clayton, from Shortlands, has published his second page-turning novel – a psychological thriller called The Hoax.
It tells the story of a struggling mum of three whose youngest son goes missing, and is returned by a fairy godmother-like character Cora.
At first Cora’s friendship is a blessing, but things may not quite be as they seem.
Mr Clayton, who is also known for his roles in BBC comedy Him and Her and Hollyoaks, found inspiration for the story in the newspaper.
He said: “I came across an article about two female friends who’d fallen out and the unimaginable lengths that one of them went to take her revenge.
“That became the centrepiece of my jigsaw. Then I had to think of how we got to that incident and what happened because of it.”
South London was also an influence on the novel.
Mr Clayton said: “Ever since I moved to London in the early 1980s I have always lived south of the river and one thing I love is the fact that you’re never very far from a fabulous common or a wonderful green space.
“So, I set the book around a park and the people in the story live near to it.
“My lockdown walks every day around our local park made me look up at the flats and houses through the trees and imagine what people were doing inside them.
“Daily walks in parks have been a calming influence for so many of us.”
As well as his lockdown walks providing inspiration, it also gave Mr Clayton the time to focus on the book.
He said: “Acting work was in short supply around lockdown, so it was a splendid chance to brush up my skills, creating the dialogue for the story.”
But this isn’t his first foray into writing. He is also the author of two non-fiction books on working as an actor, So You Want to Be a Corporate Actor and The Working Actor, and a novel The Punishment.
But the actor revealed that writing has its challenges. He said: “As an actor, you spend a great deal of time being told what to do.
“As a writer, you need incredible self-discipline to sit down and face an empty screen every day, hoping some words will come along to go on it.”
But Mr Clayton also enjoyed the creative freedom that comes with writing a novel. He said: “As actors, we are storytellers.
“They give us the words.
“Having the power to create characters and put them in many difficult situations as a writer was quite wonderful.”
The Hoax comes out on April 1 and is available to pre-order now.
Picture: Michael Wharley
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