Why I Love... Acton

Author Philip Webb shares his views on W3




Out in the USA on the 25th March

Why I Love Acton: Director Sue Bourne



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Local resident (and new father), Philip Webb, has always loved writing - just as well as it was twenty years before he got his first book 'Six Days' published.

He is now about to release his second - a sci-fi adventure for young adults called 'Where The Rock Splits The Sky'.

He says '' Until recently I worked as a designer and customer experience consultant and wrote in my spare time. Now I’m a full-time father and I have even less spare time!

Below he explains why he loves this part of London.

When and why did you move to Acton?

I moved to Acton 17 years ago to work in London. I was familiar with west London because my mum lived in Chiswick as a child and loved the area.

 Whereabouts do you live?

 I live just off the Uxbridge Road five minutes from The Red Lion and Pineapple pub.

What do you love about Acton?

 Since I left work in central London to look after my son, I spend much more time locally. I love the diversity of the people who live here. It’s an honest no-frills place, constantly changing and vibrant. In local playgroups I’ve met other parents from Somalia, Poland, Malaysia, France, Bulgaria, Japan – the melting pot of Acton is what gives the area its life.

Where are your favourite restaurants/shops?

I love the Turkish and Asian grocers on the Uxbridge Road – it’s more interesting than shopping in supermarkets. My favourite is Hakikat near the library. They have a spicy walnut dip called muhammara which I’m addicted to! Restaurants: I love the friendly and reasonably priced Thai Nice. I like sushi - Atari-Ya has great reviews so I’ll be trying that out soon. Also, I haven’t been to the new Aeronaut bar but the idea of a circus on our doorstep is too tempting to miss!

Do you have any hidden gems?

The falafel at the Sanabel Lebanese bakery is to die for.

What do you dislike about the area /what could be improved?

 I’m wary of the plans to redevelop the Oaks Shopping Centre – they’re just so unimaginative. I understand the need for regeneration but the arrival of yet more luxury flats isn’t really what’s needed in an already congested area. Generic retail units may just threaten the vibrant and independent businesses along Churchfield Road. What about a music venue or something like the fantastic Brixton Village Market – a way to put Acton on the map and attract people to visit from outside the area?

Tell us about your new book

Where The Rock Splits The Sky is a sci-fi Western adventure for teenagers. It’s set in a future American Mid West after extra-terrestrial visitors have demolished the Moon and stopped the Earth from spinning. Vast swathes of America from Alaska to Mexico form part of a new and terrifying wilderness called the Zone where the laws of physics don’t necessarily apply and any human technology more sophisticated than a revolver does not function.

Megan Bridgwater is desperate to find her missing father. With her faithful horse, Cisco, and her two friends Luis and Kelly, she must navigate the Zone where the sun never sets, towns can float, and alien body-snatchers are the new outlaws.

Where does your inspiration come from?

 The initial idea for Where The Rock Splits The Sky came from the proposal to use wind power to propel oil tankers across the oceans. The idea of using enormous kites to tow ships prompted me to take the idea further and further until I was thinking about the Earth being tethered and towed somewhere unknown.

In 1991 I went on a road trip around the USA and saw the incredible landscapes of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. I kept a diary of the trip, which later proved invaluable when setting key scenes for the book in Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly and Carlsbad Caverns.

I love Westerns – the story is a homage to some of my favourites: True Grit, The Searchers, The Good The Bad And The Ugly.

How/where do you work

I write when I can! Looking after a 1-year-old is demanding but I have a lot of head space to think about writing. By the time I come to actually write all that prep work has been building up and I’m ready.

What tips do you have for others who want to write?

You have to be persistent. Especially at the start of writing a book, what you write may not be very good, but you find your way with it. The more words you put down, the easier it becomes to refine and the more ideas you generate – characters and plot come to life. The worst thing to do is look at early efforts, decide they’re not good enough and give up.

What's your next project?

I’m writing another book for young people. It’s not a sequel to Where The Rock Splits The Sky – it’s something completely different, that’s all I want to say right now!



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11th March 2014