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Ben Lyle - Author

About the Author

Ben Lyle attended a succession of eccentric institutions known as 'free' schools, where he couldn't have been happier. He's worked in the film industry for the last fifteen years, while also completing an MA in creative writing at UEA and subsequently a PhD in Film and Television. He lives in South London with his partner. Terms is his first novel.


Author photo copyright Nadia Marquard Otsen


Below is a Q&A with this author:

Did the characters of James and Mervyn lead the plot or did the plot lead them?
I was interested in these two characters from the very beginning and the relationship between them. When I started writing, I didn't have a pre-determined plan for the plot - rather, I wanted to explore how these two characters would develop and interact with each other.

The dialogue sounds natural, how long had the story and characters been in your head before you began writing?
Dialogue is something you have to work at. What's on the page now is not what was in the first draft, and nowhere is this more true than with the dialogue. Again, the dialogue is also led by character and I tried hard to let the characters talk in a way that is natural for them.

How autobiographical is the story? Did you go to a school like Bannock House?
There are many elements of Bannock House that are similar to some of the schools I went to as a child but my experience was very different from that of James. I loved all my schools, and would be happy to send my children to similar style schools now.  

Do you think children need discipline to thrive at school? Is your attitude to education more like Fran's or James'?
I think discipline is overrated. I never had homework until I was sixteen and rarely had compulsory lessons for the whole of my childhood, yet I have a BA, an MA and PhD all in different subjects. Children want to learn. We don't need to force them.

I guess this means I'm more in agreement with Fran than James, although there are no easy answers. Schools like Bannock House have their problems too.    
Will James come up in a future story?
Who knows. I'm interested in his voice and his internal conflict, and I've thought of writing about him as a man in his forties (i.e. in the present) but I'm working on a very different project at the moment. If James' returns, it won't be for a while yet.
The novel is based on a short story, what aspect was the focus of the short story?
The short story, named Crannock House, is very much about the friendship between James and Mervyn. This came to me as an idea very quickly, and once I wrote the short story I found that I wanted to keep writing about these two people. Terms is the result of that urge.

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