Local author Clive Harvey recently released his latest book Mouse Trap. Dubbed a “cautious guide to survival”, it follows the story of a tormented forest mouse who escapes his dark, secretive surroundings to seek freedom – but at a price. Here, Clive tells Eileen Leahy more about the parallels he draws with human society and why fellow comedian Jo Brand is such a fan of the book.
It’s fair to say that Clive Harvey is quite versatile. Former lawyer, passionate musician and guitar teacher – flamenco in particular is his specialty – he has also written two books – on two very different subjects.
The first, Yang’s War, is a historical fiction novel based on the bodies of Chinese laborers who were conscripted for World War I while the recently released second is titled Mouse Trap and follows the story of a mouse forester who escapes her stifling and secret family life in search of freedom – but with big consequences.
“Once I took humanity out of the equation, anything, for me, became possible. What if all creatures could have fully evolved?
So far so different then, but Clive’s eclecticism doesn’t stop there as the Horsmonden-based author has also created a special soundtrack to accompany his new book, cleverly accessible via the many QR codes embedded in the pages of the book of 250 pages and more. .
“Mouse Trap gave me the idea and the opportunity to combine my two disciplines and create something unique,” says Clive.
“I embedded five QR codes linking each stage of the story to bespoke songs from my website. I agonized for a long time over how I could showcase my work interactively. I ordered my website , Music4art a long time ago, to try to achieve this goal, but it’s only now, with this new novel, that I feel I’ve finally made it.
Clive also commissioned local artist Stephen Rose to do all the amazing illustrations for the book which he says is dubbed “a cautionary guide to survival” and also draws many parallels with human society when it comes to heritage. , social exclusion and ideologies.
It even got the thumbs up from Tunbridge Wells comedian and Clive’s good friend, Jo Brand, who says she thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
“I thought it was absolutely charming, captivating and somewhat creepy,” says Jo. “Congratulations. It’s a huge effort to finish a book, and I can say it’s a labor of love.
So how did Clive go from practicing law to writing stories about the Great War and a mouse called Tobias on a quest for freedom and answers to big questions?
“I’ve always had a passion for writing and as different as the two books are in terms of subject matter, they are somehow related as the reader takes a kind of journey through each of them. ‘them.”
Clive says his mother was a huge influence on him growing up, especially telling stories.
“She could put you to sleep with her off-the-cuff news – or make you make up your own. So I did that from a very young age. Then, by chance, the best teacher at my secondary school brought me to English , so my journey as a writer found its future path.
“The Horsmonden-based author has also created a unique soundtrack to accompany his new book”
Although Mouse Trap is the second book he’s published, Clive reveals that it was actually the first he started writing before he got sidetracked.
“I was well on my way to finishing Mouse Trap when another, more pressing opportunity interrupted my writing. On one of my many trips to the WWI cemeteries of northern France, I am came across a riddle. From time to time, I noticed Chinese tombstones. The experts there simply couldn’t offer a satisfactory answer as to why Chinese people were there in France, and I don’t care. I couldn’t remember any mention of them in a history lesson or in any books.
“Once I realized they were there as a result of a covert recruitment drive, I rushed into Yang’s War to record this compelling story.” The book, adds Clive, proved to be very popular and copies are now being sold in China and also Japan.
Clive goes on to explain that Mouse Trap was originally inspired by one of his favorite childhood books: Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
“It was the first book I read, cover to cover. I was about 10 years old and it captured my imagination. But as I got older, its sheer naivety seemed like a wasted opportunity. Although it was perfect for the time, I started to imagine bolder ways to use animal characters to parallel human experiences.
“Once I took humanity out of the equation, anything, for me, became possible. What if all creatures could have fully evolved? Would bravery and heroism play their part?
Are superior and inferior ideologies corrupting this non-human world into social exclusion, discrimination and intimidation to the point where one species dominates all others?
Clive states that his aforementioned passion for flamenco is not limited to performing and composing. In fact, it has also been an influential and informative guide to his writing.
In addition to the QR codes scattered across the pages of Clive’s new book, there are also powerful illustrations that help enhance the narrative. The author commissioned artist Stephen Rose after meeting him at the Spa Art Gallery at The Pantiles.
“As I described my project to Stephen, a local and widely acclaimed visionary artist, he threw in some initial sketches that captured the mood perfectly. Since then, we have been collaborating. »
Without saying too much about the plot, Clive says he deliberately left Mouse Trap “on hold” in order to allow for a sequel.
“I’m happy to report that one is already well advanced,” he smiles. “My collaboration with Stephen Rose has continued and we are working on an eye-catching image for the next cover. With such disturbing world events constantly dominating the news, there are plenty of influences to draw from as the turbulent mission of Tobias continues…”
Mouse Trap, is published by Menin House for £11.99 and is available from all good bookstores. For more information on Clive Harvey, visit music4art.co.uk
MOUSE TRAP: A CAREFUL MOUSE TALE
Clive Harvey reveals the thinking behind the plot of Mouse Trap to Times readers:
“While I would never encourage a young adult to leave the house before his time, my Tobias felt he had no choice. Mouse Trap is the trap anyone could fall into if he didn’t. don’t know who or what he really is.
Schooled at home, deprived of any meaningful interaction between creatures, poor Tobias is found wanting. If his parents, or the elders of the community, had come to an agreement with him in advance, they could have controlled his frustrations, slowed down his initial momentum; but oh how often communication fails!
It turns out that for Tobias, his own petulance meant that any option to stay put was lost. Yet he quickly revels in the joy of freedom, the sunlight and its warmth, and then the danger that awaits him.
He knows nothing about diversification, popular rule, intimidation or discrimination, let alone persecution. If he had any idea that he might never have run away…the “Rat-Rule” rumors just spurred him on!
Tobias presents himself as a vulnerable and naive creature, on his mission: a perfect candidate to lead an exploratory narrative.
Thinking he was just a regular guy, a ‘forest mouse’, with no baggage to unload on anyone, try to share his ups and downs along the way, laugh at how little he he truly knows about others despite his rigorous home-learning and communal indoctrination.