East of England's publication date is ...

… 24th January 2019!

A few details here, plus another nudge to pre-order yourselves a copy or two, or even to get in on the pledging and be listed in the book as a patron while that’s still an option.

More information as it emerges, but book-wise, there’s now officially something to look forwards to in the doldrums of late January…

—-

Sign up to my newsletter here.

Details on all of my books here.

Authors Unbound: Nottingham Waterstones 6th October

As part of the ongoing crowdfunding-related shenanigans for my upcoming thriller East of England, I’m involved in a day-long writing event at Waterstones in Nottingham on Saturday 6th October.

Authors Unbound offers a keynote speech from award-winning author Alice Jolly, plus five themed panels with discussions - and audience Q&As on contemporary writing, genre fiction, historical writing, non-fiction and documentary writing, and on comic writing. There’ll be a few readings to round out the day also.

Here’s the running order:

6 Oct running order.PNG

All the writers featured have works either in-progress or published by Unbound. Tickets are £% plus book fee (the fiver’s redeemable against book purchases, which makes it almost free, really!), and can be bought here in advance from Waterstones.

Also, in support of the event, we’ve put together an e-book sampling a fair selection of those in Nottingham on the day. That e-book can be downloaded here (It’s free for a limited time, so gt in quick and you might snaffle a freebie!).

Lastly, many of the writers who’ll be there have been interviewed on this very blog in my 10 Questions series. Have a look-see here:

Eli Allison

Lulu Allison

Tim Atkinson

Stephanie Bretherton

Erica Buist

Sue Clark

Alys Earl

Eamonn Griffin (yes, I interviewed myself)

Maximilian Hawker

Paul Holbrook

Stephen Leslie

Miles Hudson

Patrick Kincaid

Amy Lord

Virginia Moffatt

John-Michael O’Sullivan

Emma Pusill

PJ (Philip) Whiteley

Hope to see you on the 6th October if you’re available, and if not, at least consider downloading the ebook (it’s free until the morning of Tues 25th Sept, 99p thereafter - that’s the cheapest it can be made), as well as checking out these fine author types.

—-

Sign up to my newsletter here.

Details on all of my books here.

10 questions: Stephen Leslie, author of Sparks

A quirky one today from the upcoming Unbound list of crowdfunded books (my own offering is here, by the way)! Here's Stephen Leslie to explain more ...

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Stephen Leslie and my book SPARKS is a collection of short stories inspired by photographs I’ve taken over the past twenty years.

Stephen Leslie.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because there is genuinely nothing else like it out there. I’m a well-known street photographer but I’m also a screenwriter, so this is a unique book in which I make up fake contexts for my photographs. It’s funny, aesthetically pleasing and mischievous. 

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

We are constantly bombarded with images but rarely have the time to stop and consider them in any great depth. What SPARKS tries to do is get the viewer to slow down for a moment and imagine where these 80 photographs might lead. In this way you can look at a photograph of a man standing on the Holloway Road dressed as a pirate and then read about how he’s dreaming of a way to escape from his career as a chiropodist, or find out what happened to the man with the a giant python I photographed being arrested in a children’s playground....   

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

The hardback book will be in the shops / available online from August 23rd but it can be pre-ordered now (for a discount price) on Amazon. 

Stephen Leslie cover.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

It depends what I’m working on. I write film and TV scripts for a living so my day is either about researching those projects, writing the actual scripts or shouting / weeping down the phone to my agent. In the time left I’m out taking photographs and, currently, trying to organise the exhibition to accompany the book launch.  

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’m going to cheat and pick a book by an American street photographer. Sidewalk was the first book by Jeff Mermelstein. It’s truly amazing but it doesn’t contain a single word, there’s no introduction and none of the photographs are titled. However, his photographs are stuffed with potential, he captures utterly surreal moments that take place in Manhattan and from repeatedly devouring this book I’ve learned so much about the power of suggestion and the way that narrative can be implied by a look or a tiny detail. His work has been a massive influence on both my writing and my photography and indeed what my book, SPARKS does is to try and extend out from a photograph and fill in the blanks. 

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Kevin Barry’s short story collections, There Are Little Kingdoms and Dark Lies The Island are both fantastic. Denis Johnson’s Jesus Son is magical and the collected stories of Raymond Carver is pure gold.  

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

10th of December by George Saunders.

All of the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn.

And a huge compendium of street photography featuring all my favourite photographers!

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Good ideas are sticky and magnetic, they won’t go away and they fire off in all sorts of unexpected directions. Plan but don’t be afraid to change as you go along. Follow your gut. And most of all, it’s as much about re-reading and re-writing as it is about writing.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

It’s impossible to make as a film. And, given my day job, it’s the last thing I’d ever want to do. I wrote this as an escape from the bloody film industry.

Social media contacts:

Website: www.stephenleslie.co.uk

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/sparks/

 

Huge thanks to Stephen for his time and his answers! As he says, Sparks is available from all good bookstores, real and virtual, from 23rd August, so you've really got no excuse to avoid getting yourself a copy!

—-

Sign up to my newsletter here.

Details on all of my books here.

10 questions: Emma Pusill, co-author of The Lido Guide

Straight to it today, so without any fanfare, here's Emma Pusill to tell us about her book The Lido Guide, coming soon from Unbound Publishing: 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Emma Pusill, and together with Janet Wilkinson, I’m writing The Lido Guide. It’s just as well you asked what it’s about, because the title is a bit oblique. Maybe we need to work on that.

Anyway, in a nutshell, it’s a user guide to all the publicly accessible open-air pools in the UK and Channel Islands.

Emma Pusill

2. Why should folk read your book?

Because I’ll be massively offended if they don’t.

Aside from sparing my feelings, however, this book will appeal to:

·         Swimmers

·         Dippers

·         Bobbers

·         Non-swimmers who like to hang out in nice places

·         Tea drinkers

·         Cake fans

·         Architecture fans

·         People who need a pitstop during long journies but would rather chew their own left leg off than use service stations

·         Day trippers

·         Sun worshippers

·         Rain gods

·         People who like warm water

·         People who like cold water

·         Picnic lovers

·         Folk interested in community enterprise / volunteering

·         Photography fans

·         Relatives of any of the above who have run out of ideas for what to get said relative for birthday / Christmas gifts

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

Anybody who falls into any of the above categories will find the book invaluable because it will help them to find around 120 outdoor pools, where all of the above passions (and many more besides) can be indulged. It’ll give all the information needed to find and contact the pools, a description of what it’s like to swim there and advance warning of any quirks. You really don’t want to be finding out about coin-operated showers when you’ve already lathered up the shampoo and are frantically trying to make the water work. Yes. That’s bitter personal experience.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

The book is due out in Spring 2019. It’s fully funded, so if you preorder via https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/ you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home – it’ll land right on the doormat. How cool is that? After launch, it’ll be available online and offline, and you can expect it to be stocked in some quirky places, including pools. Some of those pools won’t even be outdoor pools, which we hope will help bridge the indoor/outdoor divide. And if we can manage to resolve that thorny bit of tribalism bringing together both sides of the Brexit debate should be a doddle.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

My half of The Lido Guide was written, almost entirely, on a sun lounger in Tenerife. You have no idea how much I wish I could say that was typical.

Other writing is squashed in around single-parenting, two fairly demanding jobs and trying (mostly in vain of late) to do some actual swimming.

Because of that I often find I am writing in unusual places. To date these have included:

·         Swimming pool spectator galleries

·         Public libraries hundreds of miles from home

·         Cafes – tip: bacon fat and laptop keyboards will never be best friends

·         Pubs – tip: self-discipline required in even larger than usual quantities

·         Supermarket carparks

·         Atop tiny single beds in cheap B&Bs

·         A-road laybys

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

It’s the only book I’ve read that could even remotely be said to be ‘about writing’. Which makes why I have chosen it plain.

But isn’t it just about running, I hear you ask? Well, yes. Mostly. But it also sheds light on Murakami’s approach to writing, what he sees as good qualities for a novelist and writing’s place in his life alongside running.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Jenny Landreth’s Swimming London is everything a good guidebook should be. It captures all the dry, practical knowledge and coats it in personal experience.

Bella Bathurst’s The Lighthouse Stevensons was the first book I read that showed me how factual material could worked into a captivating story akin to a novel.

Dava Sobel’s Galileo’s Daughter deftly draws together what is known from historical evidence, and what can only be extrapolated from that evidence in a work that bridges the gap between fact and fiction. I write some fiction, although not as much as I’d like to, and I invariably find that what I write is part fact, part fiction. I don’t usually set out that way, but that’s what seems to want to come out of my fingers. The piece I had published in Watermarks, an anthology edited by Tanya Shadrick, is a perfect example of that. A story built on a foundation of fact, but nevertheless not factual.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

An etymological dictionary

Essential Sources In The Scientific Study Of Consciousness – Baars, Banks, Newman

Feminism and the Third Republic – Paul Smith

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Beyond extolling the virtues of sun-loungers and a warm climate I’d advocate peace, quiet and time. And drafting. And re-drafting. And cups of tea.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Two middle-aged women cover thousands of miles, driven by an inexplicable (to their loved ones) need to seek out outdoor pools. Along their way they experience adversity – pools that close because of a drop of rain, pools that are closed when the sign on the door very definitely says open (as does their website), picnics eaten in car parks thanks to said closed pools, traffic jams, flight diversions, testosterone fuelled triathletes having punch ups in the deep end, cafes that have run out of cake. But, ultimately, the adversity gives way to triumph; they swim in the rain, they swim in the sun, they talk to the thousands of humble volunteers who keep pools afloat, they learn about themselves, each other, and the richness of communities where not everything has to be about money.

Social media contacts: @lidoguide on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/lidoguide/

—-

Sign up to my newsletter here.

Details on all of my books here.

10 questions: Virginia Moffatt, author of Echo Hall

Hi all!

Time for another questionnaire-style interview with an author with a book from Unbound Publishing (my own East of England is in edits with them as we speak, and will be out in due course). Today, it's the turn of Virginia Moffatt, who's here to tell us all about her new novel Echo Hall

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Virginia Moffatt. I am a writer from Oxford. After decades of working in social care, I’ve had a few different jobs. I currently work as a Procurement and Contracts Manager in a multi-academy. I’m married with three teenagers who are all in full-time education.

Echo Hall is my first novel. It is about the echoes of history and asks the question, is conflict inevitable or can we find another way?

Virginia Moffatt.jpg

2. Why should folk read your book?

Firstly, I have tried to write a rattling good story and create characters you will care about, and want to follow through to the end. Second, because I think it has something interesting and useful to say both about the nature of war and peace, and the role of women in society. I would hope that it is the kind of book that will linger long after the final page has been read.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?  

It’s got a lot of different elements – gothic, family saga, politics, history – so I think that is appealing to a wide range of readers.  It is also fiercely feminist, with three strong heroines: Ruth in the 1990’s, Elsie in the 1940’s and Rachel whose story runs between 1911 and 1924.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

Please, please, please buy it from your local bookshop, or if you can’t do that order it via Hive, as they will give a donation to your favourite High Street shop. It is also available via the usual online platforms if you prefer them.

Echo Hall.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

I don’t really have one, because writing is crammed in the spaces I have between work and family life. I tend to do it in fits and starts, so when I’m in a writing phase, I’ll be up at 6 and write till 7 before getting ready for work, making sandwiches and chivvying teenagers out of the house. When approaching a deadline, I’ll probably be continuing in the evening after tea, between 7 and 9, and for as much of the weekend as I can get away with. From time to time, I go away on writing retreats which are very productive as I can please myself and will write from the moment I wake till the moment I go to bed. 

I tend to finish a draft and leave it to cook for a bit. So if I’m not working on a nonfiction project or blogging, or posting guest articles, I use that time to market my work (currently Echo Hall and an essay collection I’ve edited; Reclaiming the Common Good: How Christians Can Help Rebuild This Broken World.  I am looking forward to a day when I can work part-time and have at least one day a week devoted to writing, but that’ll have to wait till the day I get a major book deal!

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.  I had to read a lot of books about writing when I studied for a Diploma in Creative Writing and I found most of them dull and prescriptive. A friend sent me Bird by Bird. I immediately loved the accessible style and the fact that Lamott recognises there are many ways to write - you have to work out what methodology suits you.  I also love the encouragement in the title, drawn from real life experience when the author’s brother was overwhelmed with the enormity of a school project on birds. Their Dad fixed it by telling him to approach it Bird by Bird which is great advice for any project but particularly helpful for procrastinating writers.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Only three? Gosh.

I love Gothic novels, but I think it is Wuthering Heights, that’s had the most impact on Echo Hall. When I was writing, I went back and had a look at how Nelly Dean tells Lockwood the story of Heathcliff and Cathy, to help me write Rachel’s story. For a while, I had Rachel’s son telling this to Elsie when they were trapped in a cottage overnight, but in the end, I changed it to a letter format. However, I hope something of the spookiness of Wuthering Heights remains and there are one or two nods to it in the book.

The structure of the novel is also inspired a bit by David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which is a series of interlocking parts. Each story is told till the halfway point, and then another story begins which has a connection to the previous. The sixth story is told in the centre of the book, and then we get the second half of the fifth, fourth etc till we are back at the beginning. I actually can’t remember if I’d worked my structure out before reading Mitchell’s book, but I certainly recognised the connection by the time I’d finished my first draft. I kept checking Cloud Atlas after that to see how the author constructed it and found that very helpful.

Finally, I reread George Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying to get a sense of 1930’s life. Elsie, the second of my three heroines is living in the 1940’s but there are some flashbacks to her life before the war, and Orwell was a definite influence on those segments. He gets name-checked too.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without

The Lord of the Rings. First read it aged 13 and roughly every 18 months/2 years ever since. I love it for its heroism both big and small, huge scope and sense of landscape, journey and adventure.

Cloud Atlas, because it is an astonishing journey through time and space, full of intriguing characters, interesting ideas, heartbreaking situations. Mitchell also uses language and imagery to great effect. It is stunning and I find something new every time I pick it up.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. It’s a brilliant novel about life, death, fate and God with the most heartbreaking last line ever.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Write the story only you can write. Develop a thick skin to deal with the critics. Work hard, experiment, learn from critique. Keep going, and believe in yourself, your time will come.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Three generations of women experience love, loss and conflict during times of war. Is such conflict inevitable or can we find another way?

Social media contacts:

@aroomofmyown1 (twitter) Virginia Moffatt  & Echo Hall (Facebook)

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/echo-hall/

Previous publications:

Rapture and what comes after:  Flash Fiction Collection. Gumbo Press (2014).

Non fiction.

Life without Jargon: How to help people with learning disabilities understand what you are saying (1996).

Reclaiming the Common Good: How Christians can help rebuild this broken world Darton, Longman and Todd.(2017).

‘Nothing More and Nothing Less.’ A Lent course inspired by the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’. Darton, Longman and Todd. (2017).

Huge thanks to Victoria for her time and thought. Can't beat an Owen Meany fan! Echo Hall is out now, so please rush out and grab an armful of copies!

—-

Sign up to my newsletter here.

Details on all of my books here.

 

10 questions: Sue Clark, author of Note To Boy

Part of the pleasure of having had crowdfunded a book via Unbound Publishing (my noir novel East of England has just - at the time of writing - been funded, and will be in print and digital form all too soon) is the sense of community with other writers who are going through  - or have gone through - a crowdfunding journey themselves. So, it's interesting to explore others' approaches to their writing and their work. Hence this series of short interviews!

Today's Unbound author is Sue Clark, whose comic novel Note To Boy demands your attention. Here's Sue to explain more: 

Sue Clark.jpeg

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

I’m Sue Clark and I’m a recent escapee from the world of PR and journalism. I’ve also done a bit a TV and radio scriptwriting in my time. My comic fiction Note to Boy tells what happens when the worlds of an elderly former fashion diva and a teenager from a sink estate collide.

2. Why should folk read your book?

It’s funny and, without being heavy-handed about it, reminds us that people who are often written off – the crabby old and the surly young – may have hidden depths, with tales to tell and adventures to be had. And did I mention it’s funny?

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

It touches on real issues like loneliness and bullying but in an entertaining way, and features the crazy 1960s – and who doesn’t love a bit of Swinging London nostalgia?

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

Note to Boy is with the crowdfunding publisher Unbound now and will be available just as soon as the funding target is reached. We just have to encourage a few more lovely people to support it and pledge for a personalised and reasonably priced first edition copy. Hint hint!

Note To Boy.jpeg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

Having given up the nine-to-five a few years ago to concentrate on novel writing, I fight against having a typical day, although I do try to write something every day, no matter how short. And when the mood is on me, or a deadline looms, I’m up at sparrow’s fart to tap away and may still be there at midnight, a glass of something chilled at my elbow. I’ll even pull an all-nighter if needed, although don’t talk to me the following day. I’d like to be a writer of regular habits but it doesn’t seem to happen.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Easy. On Writing by Stephen King. Why? Because (unlike some authors of ‘how to’ books) he is a prolific and highly successful writer himself and his advice is wise and down-to-earth. What it boils down to (if I may be so bold as to summarise) is: stop with the excuses, park your bum on the seat and just bloody write.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Now this, and the next question, is unfair! But I’ll close my eyes and stick a pin in a few. Kate Atkinson, Life After Life: a virtuoso performance that, in a parallel universe, I would have written. PG Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves (or any of his Jeeves books): anyone who can make you laugh out loud through wordplay alone gets my vote. Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: hilarious from the first deadpan lines onwards.

8. Pick three desert island books – works you couldn’t live without:

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna: a perfect novel in my view. Philip Roth, The Plot Against America: the book we could be living in at the moment. Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: the book I read as a child that first made me want to write.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Firstly, be prepared to work really hard, especially on the re-writing, and re-re-writing, and the re-re-re-writing. You get the picture. And second, what Stephen King (almost) said: stop with the excuses, apply bum to seat and just bloody write.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Eloise wants her celebrity life back. Bradley, for now, will settle for a safe place to sleep and a warm coat. Thrown together, the incompatible pair join forces to try to avenge a wrong, but will the plan succeed before Eloise’s growing confusion ruins everything, and can Bradley really be trusted?

Social media contacts:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sue.clark.18400

Twitter – @sueclarkauthor

Unbound URL – where first edition copies of Note to Boy can be pre-ordered – https://unbound.com/books/note-to-boy 

Previous publications:

Bits of nonsense for various BBC radio and TV sketch shows including Three of a Kind, Alas Smith and Jones, Weekending, and The News Huddlines. Bits of more serious stuff for newspapers and magazines.

—-

Sign up to my newsletter here.

Details on all of my books here.

10 questions: Maximilian Hawker, author of Breaking The Foals

Part of having gone through the crowdfunding process for me with Unbound Publishing for my upcoming noir thriller East of England is the sense of community that develops with other writers who are doing - or who have done - similar. So, this series of questionnaire-format interviews explores other writers who have works either in process or in print with Unbound. Today it's the turn of Maximilian Hawker, so it's straight over to him: 

MH.jpg

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Maximilian Hawker and my debut novel, Breaking The Foals, is about a Bronze-Age royal torn between upholding his duties to his despotic father, or defending the people over whom his father rules. Oh, and it’s all set in the city of Wilusa – which was the historical Troy of myth. (Yes, Troy was a real city.)

2. Why should folk read your book?

For £3.99 on Amazon you will get a very different take on the tired let’s-retell-the-Trojan-War trope of modern literature. I love the mythology as much as the next person but have delved beneath it to discover the historical reality behind Homer’s poetry; my research has informed Breaking The Foals and this is the first time I believe any writer has actually tried to portray Troy in all its raw, unfamiliar sincerity.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

If you like family drama, war, natural disaster, tragedy, humour, crazed rulers who consider themselves divine and communities that worship the bones of extinct creatures as gods, then you may very well enjoy my novel.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?

All the usual places, good sir: Amazon, Hive, Waterstones and if you are a bookshop you can order it from Gardners.

BTH cover.jpg

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it.

Frustratingly, the idea of having a day of writing is laughably optimistic for me. I work in frontline children’s social care and have a wife and two children, so getting any time to myself is a treasure. However, my top tip is to get up earlyish on the weekend, let your kids watch a bit of TV and/or play, and then get on that laptop and hammer out a few thousand words before the miniatures have completely woken up. Mornings are definitely my optimum time for writing.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

Never read any. My reading time is precious and I prefer to lose myself in fiction and enjoy another writer’s skill – that teaches me plenty enough.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer.

Number One is Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières; I read it at GCSE and it was the revelation that propelled me into writing and into reading a lot more than I had been. It is, in my mind, perfect and de Bernières’ style of blending the comic with the tragic is something I try to emulate. Number Two would be The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, which taught me how an expert delivers exactitude in description and scene development. Finally, Geomancer by Ian Irvine, which consoled me with the fact that a writer can throw themselves into a novel and make a lot of it up as they go along, while delivering something that hangs together well and is a real page-turner.

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without.

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières (for the reasons outlined above); Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë; and The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Expect nothing and write for enjoyment.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch.

It’s a historical drama called Breaking The Foals and tells the story of the real Troy of myth, gripped in the throes of a political uprising with Hektor, crown prince, torn between whether to defend the oppressed people or remain loyal to his dangerous, irrational father.

Social media contacts:

Twitter

Facebook

Website: www.maximilianhawker.com

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/breaking-the-foals/  

Previous publications:

Poetry and short stories in a number of publications, but I ain’t gonna list ‘em all!

 

And that's it! Huge thanks to Maximilian for his time. I've read Breaking the Foals and it's well worth your time, so if you're in the mood for a mythic retelling, then give this book a whirl! 

10 questions: Dave Philpott, author of Dear Mr Pop Star

While I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing, I'm by no means alone in doing this! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format.

Today it's the turn of Dave Philpott, here to chat about - among other things - his new book Dear Mr Pop Star.  

28767798_10155291090256546_1208899743_o(1).jpg

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Dave Philpott - it’s a nom de plume, and our book (written alongside my long-suffering Pa) is a book of deliberately deranged letters to iconic rock and pop stars regarding their lyrics, with genuine in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves.

2. Why should folk read your book?

Simply because it’s a totally unique concept and one that no one has manage to pull off before. We have managed to get a line through to nearly 100 musicians and songwriters and they have entirely allowed themselves to get ‘in on’ the joke. Poking fun at us for our naivety and in some cases poking fun at themselves. The replies are clever, insightful and very, very funny. As are, although we do say so ourselves, the letter we write to them.

3. What’s the appeal of your book?

We are focusing on artists and songs that are already there in the collective unconsciousness, as they are piped into our lives through our car stereos, in the background at work or even when we’re out doing our shopping. But we are asking questions that ensure that the listener will never hear those songs in the same way again. Also, as the majority of replies were secured around the back door of the industry, via roadies, cousins of bass players and social media rather than official channels, there is a real human element to how it was written.

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?  

It’s available on pre-order now via Unbound, with these people receiving a better quality version than will be shops and about 6 weeks before the official launch date of September 20th.  

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

Such is the nature of the project there really isn’t a typical day; the letters are so painstakingly crafted and take so long to do that we only produce one if we’ve had the green light from the artist that they wish to get involved. Not to be ruthless, but if an artist is semi-committal and says something along the lines of ‘I might do it but I’m not sure’ we don’t invest any more time in it, but tell them out of courtesy. So we can go days or even weeks without writing and then receive five definite yes’ all at once via email.  Then we can find ourselves writing flat out for a month.

6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?

I’ll be perfectly honest here and admit that I haven’t read any books on the art of writing at all. What we do is very particular to us, we have our way of doing things and, given the nature of the project, we can’t find parallels elsewhere. I suppose you can say that we’re kind of making our rules as we go along.

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

The Timewaster Letters by Robert Popper, Delete This At Your Peril (In fact all the Bob Servant books) by Neil Forsyth and any number of Viz annuals. We’re delighted that Viz are fans of our work. We often get compared to Henry Root, but honestly, this is quite a lazy comparison; we find it to be crudely written and frankly unfunny.  Also we love Diary of A Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith, because we can draw parallels between us and Charles Pooter’s rather mundane but extraordinary life. (We’re aware that we’ve made four choices here - sorry!)

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

The Outsider by Albert Camus, Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

If you’re really not feeling like writing when you wake up in the morning then don’t. If you try it will seem forced. The ideas will come when they’re good and ready, half-formed or forced isn’t good enough.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

I don’t think it can be done, but if it did happen it would have an absolutely amazing stellar cast and there would be cameo after cameo. Everyone would be playing themselves, although you’d never see us; we prefer to retain a little mystery - that way you can build up your own image of what these demented, obsessive writers look like for yourselves.

Social media contacts:

Twitter @DerekPhilpott

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThePhilpotts/

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/dear-mr-pop-star/ 

Previous publications: Dear Mr. Kershaw - the cult classic that started it all http://amzn.eu/8A7l5ib and also http://www.planegroovy.com/philpott.html 

Thanks to Dave for playing along. Hopefully the book's of interest and you'll get a copy!

10 questions: Maxim Peter Griffin, author/artist of Field Notes

As you know, I'm currently crowdfunding my new novel East of England through Unbound Publishing. And I'm not alone! So, I've asked a few fellow writers on Unbound's current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they're crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format. 

Today's 10 questions is a little different, if only that the subject is a brother of mine who's also currently crowdfunding via Unbound. Here's Maxim to explain a little more: 

1. Who are you and what’s your book about?

My name is Maxim Peter Griffin. I draw.

werner616.jpg

What the book is about is a tricky one – on one level it’s a nice book of drawings of Lincolnshire with some bits of writing about the countryside. On another it’s about the ghost mammoths and Brexit and stellar death and Doggerland.

Half-haikus about flint – big stuff across a landmass – being simultaneously huge and tiny in the face of cosmic indifference and the Jolly Fisherman

Field Notes is sometimes really mournful ( there’s a lot to mourn ), sometimes full of idiot glee –

2. Why should folk read your book?

It doesn’t matter if they do or don’t, really –

Field Notes is beyond the point of failure already, 95% of what is in the book has already occurred, been drawn or walked or what have you – I’ve had my nourishment  … a large part of making these experiences and actions into a book is an administrative procedure… a fun one, mind you

3. What’s the appeal of your book? 

Field Notes is wild. Wilder. Often rather fucking livid. But full of marshes – that’s what people like isn’t it? angry marshes?

4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy? 

Soon enough, after the hurly-burly of crowdfunding is done.

5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:

5 am – dogs out

6 am – back with dogs

Make notes after walk

Drawing between 9 and noon

Later – when house is quiet, make more notes – maybe type them up to see how they look.

[Question 6 - the one about books about writing - went unanswered]

werner157.jpg

7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:

Mr Palomar by I. Calvino

Haunted Houses by E. Maple and L. Myring

The Mound People by P.V Glob

8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:

I’ll have a really sweet atlas please.

maybe Seven Pillars of Wisdom or the old Penguin Book of Welsh Verse

and my copy of Wind in the Willows ( no other editions thanks )

9. Any words of writing wisdom?

Read. Look. Listen. Walk. Cook.

Keep dated notes on everything.

Don’t be an Artist, never go on a Journey.

10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:

Mad Max 2 but on foot near Mablethorpe and the anti-hero is his own Humungus – filmed on VHS

Get Werner Herzog to direct. Or Alex Cox. Werner Cox/Alex Herzog

Soundtracked by quarter speed Lark Ascending played on mellotron

werner158.jpg

Social media contacts: @maximpetergriff

Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/field-notes/ 

Huge thanks to Max for playing along. Field Notes is great - I've seen some more of the work in progress, and naturally, I've backed the project myself - it comes at you like a mix of Raymond Briggs and AW Wainwright. Who can resist that kind of combination? Surely not you, which is why you feel irresistibly drawn towards pledging ...