Tuesday, April 21, 2015


1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I've been writing for as long as I knew what writing was - it was never a decision. I wrote short stories on the back of cardboard boxes aged 5 or 6 because it was the only material I could find to write on. Though I'm sure we owned paper. As for why, I don't know - it's like a compulsion. Strangely, my desire to write probably got in the way of my doing it professionally  -knowing that I would write no matter what, I've busied myself with a lot of other activities to give me something to write about. 

2. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What books do you enjoy reading today?

Terry Pratchett, without a doubt, was the author I read most when I was young. I adored everything about the Discworld series, and that really instilled the sense of entertainment in writing in me. The sense of taking writing seriously, though, came when I read Catch-22. Joseph Heller made me realise how much effort you could put into a piece of writing. Then I think Kurt Vonnegut bridged the gap between the two influences with his unique blend.
Now, I enjoy all sorts - I'm always baffled by how much more out there is I don't know about, so it's a constant process of experimenting. Most recently, it's been a lot of Neil Gaiman and some light crime thrillers.

3. What was the inspiration behind your novel Gun City Bohemian?

I wrote it while I was at university myself; a lot of the more anecdotal elements of the story are interpretations of what I saw around me, and the plot the overtakes the characters was borne from my imagining what-ifs and explaining away things that actually happened in a fantastical way - such as that cursed dripping at night. The details got ironed out over the course of many rewrites though; I wasn't happy with the way the plot fit together until many years later when things just seemed to click.

4. Will we ever see these characters again in the future?

I wouldn't say never, but it's not planned - Gun City Bohemian is rare in my writing in that I always approached it as a complete story, and saw this arc as complete. There are hints towards some of my other novels in there, so there might be some minor cross-overs, but these characters were intended for this story.

5. What is the significance behind the polarizing characters: one who lives in reality and one who prefers inebriation and possible hallucinations?

It takes a straight character to really understand how messed up a crooked one is, and similarly to bring some credence to their wildness when it starts to seem more serious, so the polarization is all about unravelling the characters' respective lifestyles.

6. Were any of the characters personalities or emotions taken from real life?

Originally yes, though over the course of the rewrites I'm sure a lot changed and those elements took on a life of their own. Jodie in particular was taken from a girl who became a very unlikely friend of mine, who no one else really knew. I think she ended up in Australia.

7. What other genres would you like to try your hand at?

I'm always interested in trying different genres - or at least working them into my contemporary fantasy style. I'm working on a take on the crime thriller genre at the moment, which will be a real difference for me.

8. Would you rather trade places with Will or Lisa and why?
In the circumstances, probably Lisa - because I know what it's like to feel like Will, and that nervous insomnia and general confusion isn't especially desirable! A simple life is a nice thing...

9. Why did you tie in fantasy and reality in Will and Lisa's lives? What's the purpose behind the constant polarity in the book?

There are often things we
 feel we can't explain, or things that seem unreal in a particular moment (even if it's a moment when you're particularly inebriated) - I wanted to get across that feeling, where anything seems possible, even within the confines of otherwise ordinary lives. That's where the polarity becomes most interesting for me, the point where something that seems normal can become completely extraordinary. And, for what it's worth, I think the contrastingly ordinary elements of Lisa's life are just as crazy to Will as his is to her. 

10. Would you like to see Gun City Bohemian as a film? If yes, who do you want to see play your characters?

It's not one I'd have pegged as movie material, I think it would be an interesting challenge though! So I can't say I'd thought of casting options, they'd have to be quite young actors, and I think in its low-key nature it'd owe itself better to unknowns. Although Whythn would be easier, he'd have to have that heart-throb charisma (depending on your preference!) of a Tom Hardy or Tom Hiddleston.

11. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten year

Still writing, but in any number of possible guises. As far as my career is concerned, I would ideally get to use writing to pay all my bills. But I'm open to different options. Maybe I'm not great at planning ahead.

12. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?

Thinking about writing, I imagine. I love telling stories one way or another, if I couldn't do it through fiction I'd probably find another medium - filmmaking, or video game design, perhaps. I'd make art too if I was any good at it.

13. Can you tell KSR what you're working on next?

Sure, I've got a full-blown fantasy epic in editing stages, charting an office worker's 8 year journey through a strange new world (spoilers, he becomes a hardened hero and almost gets everyone killed); and a crime thriller I'm starting out on where a betting shop owner takes it upon himself to hunt down a killer.

14. What authors, dead or alive, would you like to collaborate with?

I've never really collaborated on writing, but there are people I'm sure I could learn a lot from working alongside them - living Neil Gaiman is one of my biggest inspirations. Dead, probably Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Twain. Together if possible, magical things would happen there. Those three are probably already cliche enough, but just to be sure of being unoriginal here - I'd also be fascinated to see Shakespeare at work. 

15. Thank you for participating in the interview. Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?

Thank you for arranging it! Three things... 
1) I've lived in some very strange locations teaching abroad, including an oil town in the middle of the Abu Dhabi desert, and a building site in Russia
2) I've probably read more books about gambling than on any other subject (and that's mostly non-fiction)
3) alongside my fiction I've also published a rather popular English grammar guide

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