Miles Goodyear’s whole life has been planned out for him. Born into a wealthy brewing family in Chesterfield between the wars, he knows he will go to the local grammar school, followed by St John’s College, Oxford. After graduating, he will then follow his older brother into the family business where he will remain until the next generation eventually takes over when he retires.
But life – and a series of bad decisions – go against him and, as a result, things turn out very differently from what was originally planned.
If Only They Could Talk is the story of one man’s reflection on his life, his failed relationships, his regrets and his dashed hopes. It’s about someone born with so much, who loses everything as he struggles to cope with a changing world. Or at least that’s what his relatives are led to believe as they clear out his house following his death.
Gradually, the house reveals its secrets, but nothing his relatives find there can prepare them for the final twist to Miles’s story.
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
- When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I’d been toying with the idea for some time. When I retired I decided to give it a go. That’s despite the fact that English was my worst subject at school. In fact I got a better grade in Latin than English. I’d always thought that the plot would be the most difficult part of writing a novel, that and keeping the story interesting for at least 250 pages. That is why I first started by writing my autobiography. After all the storyline in an autobiography is set for you. All you have to do is to remember your life. To my surprise and 192000 words later, I had written a book. However I’d left out many of the stories I’d heard during my lifetime and since I wanted something else to do, I decided to try and write a novel.
Nobody was more surprised than I was at how easily the plot and the storyline came to me. In fact I’d already thought of the plot for a second novel before I’d finished writing the first one. Four years after starting to write, I’ve now completed seven novels as well as my autobiography. I’ve also partly completed two others. However this is the first one I’ve published.
- What inspired you to write this book?
Firstly it was clearing out my aunt’s house after she’d died. She was 95 years old and had never had children. There were tons of junk in between some quite valuable items. Some things must have been of great sentimental value to her, but meant nothing to us. There were many photos, one of which dated back about 150 years. The people in it were probably ancestors of mine, but there was nobody left to identify them. As a result I guess I’ll never find out who they were.
Then there was a visit to Chesterfield Museum. They had an exhibition about the old breweries that used to exist in town and since my father used to work for one of them I decided to go and have a look. To my surprise two of the exhibits quoted my father. He died in 2006, so this shocked me and after speaking to the curator I discovered the museum had tapes of him recalling his time at the brewery. This novel is partially based on events that took place at that brewery during the 1940s and 50s. As a result the tapes were indispensable in helping me to remember the stories my father used to tell about working there.
- If you could sell this book in one sentence what would it be?
A book with not one, but three cracking endings!
- What are you up to next?
I want to complete my two unfinished novels. One of them will have to wait until the lockdown is over as there are things I need to go and see before I can complete it. I also want to publish a second novel, but I guess that depends on how successful this one is.
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
My father. He was a great story teller and he used to have my brother, sister and I, and anybody else who cared to listen to him in stitches with his stories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian Walker was born in Chesterfield in 1956. His father was chief clerk for a brewery in the town and his mother was a ballet teacher. He went to Chesterfield School before gaining a place at Leicester University where he studied Chemistry and Maths. After graduating he got a job working in the laboratory at Truman’s Brewery in Brick Lane London. The following year he transferred to Watney’s Brewery in Mortlake, where he moved into the sales department 18 months later.
A variety of sales rolls then followed until eventually he ended up as Regional Sales Director for Scottish and Newcastle in the West Country based in Bristol. All this came to an end in 2006 when aged just 50 he suffered a stroke and had to give up work. After 12 months of physiotherapy he felt sufficiently recovered to buy a pub in the North York Moors along with his wife Eunice.
In the eight years that they owned it they achieved listings in both The Good Beer Guide and the Good Pub Guide. They also were in The Times the list of the top 50 places to eat in the British Countryside.
In 2016 he decided to retire and move back to Chesterfield where he hadn’t lived for 40 years. He and his wife now live just around the corner from the house where he grew up. He has two grown up sons by his previous marriage.