My Inspiration to Write Selection by H.C. Kingsmill Moore | Magazine | Crime | Interviews

By H.C. Kingsmill Moore

My inspiration to write Selection was driven by three things. The first was my need to for a counterpoint to my job as an equity salesman in a global investment bank, easily the least professionally content period in my 27 years in finance. The second was what I saw and continue to see as a literary gap in the market. Wall Street (the NY financial centre not the film) has Bonfire of the Vanities, Liar’s Poker and Bombardiers. The City has nothing comparable, that I have read anyway, so I felt that I could shine some light onto the naturally dramatic world of the City. The third was that I felt, in some small way, that I could write. This was on the strength of positive feedback on a daily sales note that I sent to clients at 07.30 every morning. The realty was that I could write an amusing blog, but that does not a novelist make. Multiple rewrites and, more latterly, professional editing have taught me that. But it was enough for me to write ‘Chapter 1’ in 2011 and stick at it for thirteen years!

I wrote the first draft over a period of about two years, and the writing was split between my daily commute writing with my thumbs on my phone, and sandwich lunches at Pret/Costa with my newly acquired laptop. The basic plot came to me very early and that made the whole process of creating characters and dramatic scenes that hang on that central narrative thoroughly enjoyable. The most fundamental change from the early drafts to the final book was the re-write of our hero. The book was far too autobiographical. Most first novels are. That diminished the strength of the lead character and my ability to put him in extreme situations that simply don’t happen to ‘normal’ people with a comfortable, fortunate start to life. The major changes to ‘Seb Faber’s’ back story give him an edge that makes all his interactions a lot more interesting and unpredictable. It also gives me the latitude to take him wherever I need to, because he emphatically isn’t me!

While the hero isn’t me, most of the characters are blancmange of people I have encountered in my life. Some less blancmange, more avatar. The scenes are almost all set in places I know well, with one or two exceptions where, for reasons that will reveal themselves, very few people do experience. Expert guidance has been key to making these scenes authentic. The denouement is set in the Kalahari Desert because that is the only place in the world when Hoodia gordonii grows, a cactus with appetite supressing effects. This element of the story is based on reality, one of the benefits of my career in biotech company finance. Makes for a good story!

It is no accident that many of the characters are Irish, and particularly strong Irish women. While I was born and educated in England, all my DNA is Irish and those influences are fairly indelible. Writing the dialogue for the Irish female characters was some of the most fun I had. I thank every Irish woman I’ve ever met (including from my mother’s O’Brien lineage) for the material that has informed the creation of these characters, and I think they will leave their mark.

Given the protracted nature of writing of Selection the most important aspect of it has been the pure, naked fun of doing it. Writing has been cathartic, diverting, challenging, and hugely rewarding. The satisfaction of writing a powerful scene or making yourself laugh when re-read a funny piece of dialogue is huge. If a little vain! Since finishing the book, the lack of the writing in my life has left a hole. Selection is hopefully the first of a series of ‘Seb Faber’ books so I can’t wait to get back to the act of creation.

Securing a publisher was a mini triumph and took a lot of tenacity and self-belief to get there. But I haven’t written the book just to get it to the start line. I want people to like it, and as many people as possible. My grandfather, T.C. Kingsmill Moore, was a Senator and a revered Supreme Court Judge in Ireland. He was also the author of a much-loved book called A Man May Fish, a book about Irish fly fishing, but is also a beautifully written social commentary on late 19th century and 20th century Ireland. He died in 1979 but I still get people asking me ‘are you any relation to…?’ purely on the strength of his writing. I would love to add Selection to the library of family literary works and if H.C. Kingsmill Moore can have a fraction of the success of ‘T.C.’ I’ll be utterly thrilled.

(c) H.C. Kingsmill Moore

About Selection by Hugh Kingsmill Moore:


A rocky cliff face, the tragic death of his father, a spell in a harsh young offenders’ institution and a promising military career cut short all leave Seb Faber’s prospects looking bleak. However, an unexpected and lucrative job offer in the City seems to point to a more secure future. Seb turns out to be a natural on the equities trading floor of the City’s oldest bank, and this success leads to his selection for a special project. To add to his change of fortune he falls in love, and deeply. But Seb’s personal antennae are picking up anomalies.

Perhaps everything is not quite as it seems. As his suspicions grow, he becomes increasingly unsure about who he can trust. Then his whole world is turned upside down. Torn in all directions, Seb fights through the mists of despair to regain his self-control and sense of purpose. His final steps lead to dramatic and totally unforeseen events in the South African bush.

Selection by Hugh Kingsmill Moore, £20 Published by Nine Elms Books Click here to buy.

About the author

H.C. Kingsmill Moore has spent twenty-six years in corporate broking where he has acquired a wealth of inspiration for his debut novel, the City being a rich environment for drama that seldom needs embellishment. From a medical family, Hugh studied Biology at Durham University that lead to many years specialising in biotechnology company financings, the inspiration for the story in Selection. He lives in Berkshire with Nina, his wife of twenty years, a preparatory school headmistress, his three teenage children, and two large messy dogs.

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