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July 8, 2016 / peoplesbookprize

Andy Rumbold⌈ Vote Now ⌋

In the lead up to The People’s Book Prize 2016 we caught up with author Andy Rumbold to talk about his novel

The Last Fiesta


Andy Rumbold was born in London and grew up in Kingston. After dropping out of Exeter University he travelled for a bit before returning to study at Birmingham University. Not knowing what to do after graduating, he decided to do a TEFL in London. A job teaching English came up in Santander, northern Spain, which he took, planning to spend six months there before coming back to settle into a serious career. He got a little carried away by the lifestyle though and thoughts of becoming a lawyer or an accountant soon shrivelled up in the Spanish sun; he stayed for four and a half years. It was in Spain that he started to write, and where he penned a very rough first draft of ‘The Last Fiesta’, which he didn’t touch again until years later. After coming back from Santander, he worked for an educational publisher for a while before returning to teaching. He now lives in Surrey with his wife, two children and a cat who comes to join them at story time. He is currently writing his second novel.

When did you start writing?

When I was at University. A friend of mine used to write and he encouraged me to have a go. It started off as a ‘streams of consciousness’ type of exercise before I had a go at a novel

As an Author, what influences you the most?

I think living in a foreign country, in my case Spain. You look at everything with fresh eyes and your senses are open to everything. There is so much colour and noise in Spain, not to mention all those evocative smells of olive oil, garlic, tobacco and coffee. Then of course there’s the language. It’s like being a child again.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

I was living in Santander in Northern Spain and a friend invited me to go to San Fermin in Pamplona for the running of the bulls. So I was there when the American student, Matthew Peter Tassio, was gored to death by a bull. That was what got the whole process going.

The People’s Book Prize nominees are voted for by the readers, how important are your readers to you?

Extremely important. Writers can’t exist without readers. It is the life blood which sustains us.

We like to think there’s a voice for everyone in Publishing – what is your opinion?

Definitely. The whole process is now so much democratic, especially in the age of digital publishing. Publishing is no longer the exclusive reserve of the big publishing houses. Everyone’s voice can now be heard, including some really exciting writers that the big houses were not prepared to take a risk on.

Red Door publishes a variety of brilliant authors, what is it like to be in the company of talented writers?

Writing is occupation where you spend a lot of time on your own, so it gives me a sense of connection. I have met some of the other authors at Red Door and it helps to diminish that sense of isolation writers can feel.

What book influenced you most as a writer and what are you reading at the moment?

A tough question! The book that influenced me most for The Last Fiesta was Hemingway’s ‘Fiesta; The Sun Also Rises’. As I was living in Spain, I was very interested in his novels that were set there. Not just Fiesta; The Sun Also Rises. But also For Whom the Bell Tolls, about an American explosives expert who is given the task of blowing up a bridge held by the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War. I know Hemingway isn’t everyone’s favourite, especially as he is so politically incorrect when judged by the standards of today, but a lot of people forget that his style was trailblazing in its day. He came from a journalist background and when he turned his hand to fiction he saw it as his mission to strip language back to its bare essentials, devoid of flowery prose, in order to discover a truth through words, through language. A lot of writers have subsequently mimicked his pared back style and people forget that he was a pioneer in this regard.

In another way, his writing inspired The Last Fiesta. It was actually Hemingway’s book Fiesta; The Sun Also Rises which put Pamplona on the world stage. And a lot of foreigners that go to San Fermin for the running of the bulls have read it. Articles in the Spanish Press linked Matthew Peter Tassio’s death to the literary myth that Hemingway had created and in fact I quote from ‘El Pais’ at the very front of the book. I was no different. The night before I went to Pamplona, I stayed up half the night reading it and it definitely added to my enjoyment of the fiesta. And yet I also felt that Hemingway was somehow culpable for Matthew Tassio’s death. I’m not saying he made him run or anything like, but I see him as a contributory factor, the myth that he created which has drawn so many foreigners to the fiesta over the years.

I am currently reading A Moment of War by Laurie Lee.

What can we expect from you in the future? What are you writing at the moment?

I am half way through my second novel about a man who abducts his own children.


Find Andy at:

Facebook: Andy-Rumbold

Twitter: AndyRumbold

home pageThe People’s Book Prize is the unique literary competition that is judged by the nation and open to all UK publishing companies.

You Be the Judge: The People’s Book Prize – “The home for new and undiscovered works.”

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