Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Jonathan Gould Interview
10/8/2011 10:14:33 PM
Jonathan Gould discusses his literary works and the writing life!
LTS: I like to feature an array of literary talent on my site and today is no exception. Iíd like to introduce you to the fun and fabulous author Jonathan Gould. Iíd like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Jonathan. What do you like to do when youíre not writing?
JG: When Iím not writing I spend a lot of time wishing that I was writing. There seems to be far too many other things to do in a day that arenít writing. I have a full-time job at a university that I donít really want to talk about, as well as a family I could spend all day talking about. I have a guitar which I play moderately badly and I also love sports, most of which I play especially badly.
LTS: Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
JG: Writing is always something that I felt I could and should do but it took a long time to finally get the motivation to get off my arse and actually do it. I started to write seriously (at least as seriously as a writer who dabbles in humour can get) about 15 years ago and have had a number of successes, including having comedy sketches performed in theatre (university revues) and on public radio and having short stories published in local newspapers. Due to my late start, I couldnít really say becoming a published author has been a life long dream but once I committed myself to writing, it obviously became an important goal. And one which I have managed to achieve as Iíve had a couple of childrenís stories published in Australia.
LTS: Can you take a moment to tell our readers exactly what is ĎDag-Lití? Is it an Aussie expression?
JG: Itís a Jonathan Gould expression. Itís a term Iíve used to create to create a genre for my books, obviously based on thing like chick-lit and lad-lit. Dag is Australian slang for someone who is uncool and doesnít follow the crowd but usually in a funny kind of way. Originally it was an insult (a bit like nerd) derived from the wool industry (the dags are the bits of poo stuck to the wool on a sheepís bum) but its meaning has been flipped around and many people (myself included) now wear that badge with pride. I like it, partly because like a true dag, my stories donít follow the crowd and can be hard to classify. It also gives a sense of the audience Iím writing for. Dags can be young or old, male or female Ė they just need to have their own unique view of the world. And thatís a good description of the sort of readers Iím aiming for.
You can read a more detailed explanation on my blog at: http://daglit.blogspot.com/p/what-is-dag-lit_22.html
LTS: I understand your ebook novella, Doodling has been receiving great reviews. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
JG: A purely random comment by my wife some years ago that she felt like the world was moving too fast for her. This idea appealed to me and I began to think about what might happen if the world began moving so fast somebody actually fell off. The next day I was on the computer, writing a short piece that eventually became chapter 1.
My protagonist, Neville Lansdowne is a bit like me. Confused, bemused, befuddled most of the time and always struggling to keep up with things. Mind you, Neville is possibly a bit cleverer than I am Ė he finds answers to problems I wouldnít even begin to know how to solve.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal whatís in store for the readers when they read Doodling?
JG: Action, suspense, drama, even a little romance (actually Iím lying about the romance). Lots of surprises and hopefully more than a few belly-laughs. Think Aliceís Adventures in Wonderland, only in outer-space, as Neville, wanders through an asteroid field, meeting a variety of peculiar characters and experiencing some highly unexpected adventures.
LTS: Your latest release Flidderbug has been receiving wonderful reviews, too! What is the most striking difference between this title and Doodling?
JG: Flidderbugs is much more satirical, particularly in the way it takes potshots at politics, politicians and other deserving targets, while Doodling is, as the title suggests, more random and meandering, like doodling with words rather than pictures. And instead of being in outer- space, Flidderbugs is set high up in a tree Ė which of course is where the Flidderbugs live, work, and spend lots of time arguing about really silly things.
LTS: Are your stories geared to a MG-YA audience? Or are these stories adult readers can find just as appealing?
JG: I donít write with a particular age group in mind. My stories are mainly geared to me Ė what I find appealing or amusing. Because my writing style is simple and my voice is very clear, they may appear to be written for a younger audience, but (as the reviews have suggested) thereís a lot for adults to get their teeth into as well. I see my audience as people who share a sense of humour and a particular view of the world, regardless of their age.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. What made you decide to self-publish and is it a route youíd recommend to other writers?
JG: Mainly because the road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Make that damn near impossible, especially when you write stories that are hard to classify. Iíve had some wonderfully positive feedback from publishers but I have the feeling they donít want to take up something they canít pigeonhole and market to a specific audience. But the positive feedback, both from the publishers and also from trial readers, made me determined to explore all avenues for publication, and with self-publishing becoming so accessible and risk-free (no more paying thousands of dollars to have a garage full of unsold books) it seemed crazy not to take the punt.
Would I recommend it to other writers Ė absolutely. I love the fact that my work is getting out there and that people are buying it (yes Ė they actually are) and really enjoying it. I love the control and the fact that the integrity of my stories are not compromised by publisherís dictates. Obviously there are some writers, and some genres of writing, that self-publishing wouldnít suit, but for most writers my advice would be to stop waiting for a publisher and get your work out there Ė with the usual caveats of quality, editing, cover design, etcÖ
LTS: What is the most important lesson youíve learned on the road to publication?
JG: The main thing Iím always learning is how much you need to do and how little I actually know about it. There are so many books out there now and so many different avenues to market and sell, itís just mind-boggling. My expectations on what is possible and what is required to achieve success are constantly changing. But Iíve also learned that it is possible. Other people have made a success out of this and Iím determined to join them.
LTS: Iím curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
JG: Iím not particularly disciplined or relaxed. I write when Iím able, stealing time when I can from work and other obligations. My motivation tends to wax and wane. I can go months without writing anything and then suddenly get really productive and write heaps in a matter of days.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
JG: Generally Iíd say Iím a total plotter. Iím pretty obsessive about it, writing out lists and chapter outlines and character descriptions and getting it all worked out at the start. The main exception to that has been Doodling which, as I mentioned was written in a completely unplanned, random fashion. Itís against my nature to work like that but I enjoyed the outcome so much Iím definitely going to try it again.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
JG: Thereís usually a lot of procrastination that goes on before I knuckle down to writing. A couple of games of solitaire, several email checks, and I often go back and read old stuff Iíve written (I claim itís to get into the right mood but I suspect itís more about good old time-wasting).
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writerís block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
JG: I reckon thereís two ways to get around writerís block. One is to just let things slide for a bit, focus on other things and clear your mind out to make it receptive to new ideas. The other is the total opposite Ė sit down and get on with writing. Iíve tried both and they can both be effective at different times.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
JG: I would have to say Douglas Adams. Firstly heís a fabulous writer Ė I could never come up with the kind of prose he did. Secondly, I just love the humour Ė heís laugh-out-loud funny in a really unique way. Thirdly, heís constantly exploring ideas in ways that you would never expect. After reading his books, you just canít help seeing so many things around you in a completely different light. He totally changed my horizons in terms of whatís possible within the written form.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery youíve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
JG: That I cannot only amuse them but also engage them in a really profound way. One of my beta readers came to me after sheíd finished reading Doodling and told me that Iíd put a smile on her face that had lasted through the day. Canít ask for better than that.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
JG: Regrettably nothing at present. Something I urgently need to address.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch into other genres?
JG: I know what Iíd like to happen Ė lots of people buying my books so I can retire to a life of luxury. More realistically, Iíd hope to keep putting more work out there and hopefully in five years Iíll have a reasonable income stream from the writing. Maybe I could even follow your lead by getting into the movie game!
One great thing about dag-lit is that itís endlessly flexible and can be applied to a bunch of other genres Ė so I can easily branch out and write a daggy science-fiction story, a daggy murder mystery or even a daggy romance (I may draw the line at daggy erotica). In the meantime, Iím focusing on my next release Ė a daggy epic fantasy with the seriously daggy title of Magnus Opum. Then Iím looking at a daggy sequel to Doodling Ė tentatively titled Scribbling.
LTS: Thank you so much for spending some time here to share in your stories and in your writing life, Jonathan! Iíll catch you on Twitter, my friend!
For more information about Jonathan and his wonderful books, check out:
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: .jonno_go
Where to buy the books:
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004KSQVCO
Barnes & Noble:
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005K7HKS8/
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flidderbugs-jonathan-gould/1105609621
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