Monday, March 5, 2012
Interview with satire/fantasy writer Jonathan Gould
Today's guest is Australian writer Jonathan Gould. He's just starting a virtual book tour for Flidderbugs and Doodling. With cute titles like that, how can this not be a fun interview, right?
And, along with a few chuckles, Jonathan will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour. Details are after the interview.
Jonathan Gould has lived in Melbourne, Australia all his life, except when he hasn't. He has written comedy sketches for both the theatre and radio, as well as several published children's books for the educational market.
He likes to refer to his stories as dag-lit because they don't easily fit into recognisable genres (dag is Australian slang for a person who is unfashionable and doesn't follow the crowd - but in an amusing and fun way). You might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.
Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons, Dr Seuss, and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).
Please tell us about your current release.
I’m never quite sure how best to characterise Flidderbugs. Sometimes I call it a political satire. Sometimes I call it a fable. It’s a little bit of each. But mostly it’s just a funny little story about a strange group of insects who spend most of their time arguing about really insignificant things, mainly involving the number of points there are on the leaves of the tree they live on (the Krephiloff Tree). It’s the sort of thing that hopefully can be enjoyed by a wide range of age groups. Younger readers will enjoy the antics of the bugs while adults will get a laugh from some of the satirical elements
What inspired you to write this book?
It was actually inspired by another book – actually two books – although these couldn’t have been more different to Flidderbugs on the surface. They’re books about psychology by John Cleese (yes, that John Cleese) and Robyn Skinner called Families and How to Survive Them and Life and How to Survive It. Both books had some really interesting insights into why people choose to believe what they do and how that relates to their identity and the “tribes” they belong to. I thought these ideas could work really well in story form. Mind you, I’m still not quite sure where the insects came from.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m in the closing stages of finishing my first genuine novel (Flidderbugs is more of a novella). It’s called Magnus Opum and I definitely hope it’s exciting. It’s the story of a little person who goes off on an adventure in the big world. He finds danger and drama, but he also makes some really good friends, and in the process has all his ideas about the world turned on their head. I like to describe it as an epic fantasy with a twist – Tolkien meets Dr Seuss.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
What time is it now? Seriously, I think the moment I really felt like a writer is after the first university revue which I’d contributed to (a university revue is a theatre show comprising songs and comedy sketches, often of a satirical or political bent). Sitting in the audience, hearing the crowd laughing at my jokes felt pretty good.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Do I write full-time? I guess the answer would be yes and no. I do have a day job which does involve writing – I actually write material for online university courses. So I could say that I write full-time. And while I quite enjoy this work, ideally it’s not the sort of writing I’d be doing if I could. Writing fiction, especially humorous fiction, is my first love.
And how do I find the time to write it? A large whip applied to my back at regular intervals? Maybe not quite as extreme as that, but I do have to force myself. I can go months without writing a thing, then finally give myself a push to get up and running again. It’s just a question of making the time and having the motivation to do it.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if you could call it a quirk, but I tend to work in bursts. I’ll sit there for ages, staring at the screen. Then, without warning, I’ll suddenly attack the keyboard in a frenzy of wild typing. Then back to staring at the screen. It seems to work for me.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A paleontologist (someone who digs for dinosaur bones). Now I just dig for story ideas. Funnily enough, I have one about dinosaurs up in my head at the moment.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes. A big block of chocolate. But you’re all a bit far away from me so I suppose I’ll just have to finish it off myself.
Gee, I might be up for a road trip for chocolate! Jonathan, thank you for being here and chatting about Flidderbugs and other things.
Readers, Jonathan will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour. So, comment here and comment at other tour stops to increase the odds of winning.