Book & Author Details:
Tim Connor Hits Trouble by Frank Lankaster
Publication date: March 25th 2016
Published by Clink Street Publishing
New to academia – and the single life – Tim Connor is in limbo as he struggles to balance departmental feuds with a demanding mother, a confused daughter and an audacious new lover, in this entertaining commentary on higher education by a former academic .
Emerging from an emotionally exhausting relationship break-up, and with his young daughter still contriving to make him feel as guilty as possible, Tim Connor hopes to regain his equilibrium in his new role as lecturer of Social Sciences at the University of Wash.
n exciting new romance is also whetting Tim’s appetite. His notoriously liberal and adventurous colleague Erica has declared her passionate interest, but after the rigours of a long relationship, Tim ﬁnds himself struggling to cope with this new and very diﬀerent partner…
Meanwhile the University’s resident alcoholic dinosaur, Henry Jones, is at loggerheads with the Dean of Faculty, Howard Swankie and beset by bickering with his stoutly feminist wife. As tensions mount and the battle lines are drawn, Tim ﬁnds himself increasingly pulled in, until one day both Henry and Howard inexplicably go missing leaving Tim to deal with the crisis. A third string to his increasingly strained bow, Tim is desperately trying to maintain relationships with his young daughter and his ageing mother, both of whom live miles away from him. As Tim’s world becomes a tangled mess of sex, teaching and campus politics, his hopes for a bright new future look set to ﬂounder.
Set against the backdrop of the ﬁnancial crisis of 2008, Frank Lankaster has cleverly drawn upon his considerable experience within the education system and brilliantly captures its inherently political landscape. Tim Connor Hits Trouble skilfully and entertainingly combines the clash of ideas, warring egos, the pressure to perform and the delicate balance between working as an academic and as a teacher to produce an uproarious debut novel. Lankaster has managed to pull oﬀ a thoroughly enjoyable page-turner with serious themes
Frank Lankaster: Inspiration and Writing Method
A variety of motivations underlie my inspiration for Tim Connor Hits Trouble. Like many authors I’ve had a niggling feeling that I had at least one novel ‘inside of me trying to get out’. Now it has. Whether this turns out to be ‘the one and only’, time will tell. The other piece of familiar wisdom about a first novel is that it is nearly always autobiographical.
In fact, I didn’t particularly think that I was writing with an autobiographical intent. That just came naturally with the writing. I decided to write a novel because it seemed a more effective way of dramatising the bitter disputes and feuds that are now rife in higher education than publishing a sociological treatise on the subject. Most academics and administrative staff do their decent best to deliver a good educational experience to students. But probably most students are unaware that there is a deep divide among university staff about what its content should be. Oversimplifying somewhat one side is committed to a critical and questioning approach to education and knowledge and the other tends to follow the government’s lead in emphasising skills that will help the individual to get a job and the country to increase its GDP. You would think that these two approaches are not necessarily incompatible and you would be right. However in practice the style and substance of what the two camps want to teach and research into is typically different. I decided to try to present this clash through character interaction rather than in an academic way. Once I got going the characters seemed to write them-selves. Which side is the author on in the dispute? Read the book and make your own judgement. Educationally making your own judgement matters more than knowing what mine is.
The only pre-planned scene in the novel was at the beginning: ‘The Interview’. I’d had a couple of knife-edge job interviews myself which went the wrong way so I’ve always had a strong sense of the tension and drama of the occasion. Do well and your life changes, do badly and you’re back in the old routine. The five members of the interview panel and the interviewee, Tim Connor, departed the interview process and walked through the rest of the novel in their own distinctive ways. Later in the novel one of them Erica Botham strikes up a relationship with successful interviewee, Tim Connor. This opens the way for an important sub-theme in the book: the pleasures and limits of sexual expression and experimentation. However the relevant scenes are not in any way prurient. Rather they imply that in an age of so-called sexual liberation a great deal of prudery and inhibition still remains. Whereas Fifty Shades of Grey associates sexual excitement with high social status and power Tim Connor revels in the sheer fun and enjoyment of it. In that respect the novel has echoes of The Ginger Man and some of Henry Miller’s works whilst trying to avoid what many now see as their chauvinism.
But it is not all fun and frolics for Tim. A theme I wanted to explore in the book is the demands and stress of everyday life, the endless mini-messes that we somehow get ourselves into and that punctuate our days. Tim strives to keep a relationship going with his daughter from his broken marriage and to make regular visits to his widowed and ailing mother in the north of England. Both responsibilities involve considerable travelling. This at least allows him some in-transit ‘thinking time’ and we share his thoughts as he shuttles around the country.
There are some positive reviews on Amazon and one or two less so around the internet. Here are a couple of comments that have come directly to me:
I finally got round to reading it. I thought I’d drop you a quick line because I much enjoyed it. It’s written with lucidity and sensitivity and with a real dash of wit. I particularly admired your ability to create female characters of depth and subtlety. If it’s an accurate picture of a slice of life in academic institutions then my own deeply held prejudices are fully confirmed. Many congratulations. I understand it’s your first novel and I hope you’re proud of it. It’s a good read and sounds like a promising new career has already been initiated.
I’ve finished Frank’s book. I really like its honesty and its ambition to deal with matters of contemporary life and how we should live. Time and again I recognised that he was stating something that I have half thought but have never fully formulated. I suppose he exemplifies the piece of advice that goes, ‘write about what you know’.
About the author: Based in North London, Frank Lankaster is a semi-retired academic and community development worker with many years experience in education, working both in the UK and US. Today Frank continues to work as a freelance researcher and writer. In his spare time he enjoys watching football and is a keen Liverpool fan. Tim Connor Hits Trouble by Frank Lankaster (published by Clink Street Publishing RRP £9.99, RRP £4.99 ebook) is available to buy online from 25th March 2015 from retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.
For a review copy or interview request please contact: Kate Appleton, Marketing & Publicity Executive at Authoright / 020 7993 4438 / firstname.lastname@example.org