Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Interview with novelist Jon Reeves

Today’s special guest is author Jon Reeves. We’re chatting about his musical comedic coming-of-age novel, My Name Is Tom.

Jon Reeves has an unconditional love for music. His desire to discover new sounds and learn about how musical history has allowed that music to grow has been with him for as long as he can remember. He has met some amazing people and musicians along the way, who have inspired him to use his experiences to write stories to share with others. He believes in growing, emotionally, every day, and attempting to take positives from every situation, while keeping a realistic perspective.

Welcome, Jon. Please tell us about your current release.
Some describe Tom’s obsession with music as “unhealthy.” Growing up in the 1970s and early ‘80s middle England, developing his love for music and building a record collection to rival that of people twice his age, Tom becomes fascinated by the musical cultures of the day.

In 1989, he turns 18 and becomes part of his own culture, the Rave scene, selling all his beloved record collection along the way to fund his new lifestyle. After a while, he decides it is time to regain his lost collection. He makes a list, and at the top is a small list of rarities he regrets selling the most. As he follows the trails of the records he sold, each one reveals alarming information involving a close friend and a group of people he thought he had left behind. But to what extent is Tom involved?

What inspired you to write this book?
My book is very autobiographical, so my own life and the lives of those who have always surrounded me inspired me more than anything. Music is a constant theme through my life and more often than not I will talk about it for several hours before I realise that no one is listening. I listen to albums more than singles, as I see them as a story of where that band were when they wrote it.

Excerpt from My Name Is Tom:
This is from quite early in the book – no spoiler alerts required.

The following Saturday, just as I was about to enter the record shop to spend my wages, I noticed Trevor heading up the street in my direction. I quickly ran into the relative safety of the shop and hid in the funk section. I watched as Trevor walked in. He didn’t look particularly unhappy. He was clearly looking for someone and that someone was likely to be me. I continued to hide amongst the funk but as he moved, I was forced to do the same in order to maintain my cover. By the time he headed for the counter I was deep in the Prog Rock section.
“What you doing down there?” Said the shop keeper “You like Prog yeah?”
“Yeah… I mean, no” I didn’t really know what Prog Rock was but had heard it talked about quite negatively once on a programme about Punk, and I liked that, so I didn’t like Prog.
“I’m hiding from that bloke, I think he wants to punch me”
“What that bloke there?” He said. I confirmed the identity of Trevor.
“That’s Trevor” he said
“I know, I think he wants to punch me. He’s going out with my sister Tracey and I think he might be a bit upset with me”
“Seriously, Trevor and Tracey?” He laughed as he said it, as did I, still crouched down. Trevor heard us and made his way over.
“Trev, this lad thinks you’re gonna punch him. You aint gonna punch him are you?” The shop keep seemed incredibly amused at the idea of me being punched by an oaf twice my size.
“Course I’m not” Trevor said. “We had a minor disagreement outside his sisters bedroom the other day, didn’t we Tim?”
“My names Tom” I said.
“I know” he said laughing uncontrollably to himself. This forced me to stand up and lose my cover, which was pretty much gone anyway. The hostilities seemed to be over.
Trevor put his arm around me and led me to the New Wave section. His attitude towards me was completely different to our first meeting. I felt immediately suspicious of this given his association with my sister but I decided to play along and see what would happen.
He began to talk in depth about his love of music. I was fascinated. He told me how he had seen The Jam play live twice and The Sex Pistols once but that the set was cut short due to a fight in the audience that he was not involved in. But I could tell that he was involved. It was obvious.
It seemed unlikely considering our brief and turbulent history but I was really beginning to like Trevor. However, there was still something in the back of my mind telling me that he was likely to punch me at any minute, but as the minutes passed, it seemed less likely until the point arrived where I didn’t think it at all. It was a relief as he was quite a sizable chap and at the end of the day, also had access to my house.
We conversed about music all the way to the counter. Turned out that he also wasn’t aware of the demise of the Jam and subsequent formation of The Style Council which was strange given the stories he had just told me, you would have thought he would know that. Anyway, we were now friends. I was pleased. He was pretty cool. Well, cooler than me anyway.
At the counter the two of us perused the chart listing for this week. It was time to decide what single to buy. The shop keeper who I had now found out is called Bob, was only too keen to help me select my purchase. He played me several songs based on what he knew about me from our musical discussions so far. I liked most of them but it was ‘The Lovecats’ by The Cure that I was most taken by.
It had entered the charts that week and I knew nothing of them. The record box didn’t contain any songs by them despite Bob informing me that they had been around for a little while now. This made me think for the first time that maybe my cousin wasn’t as up on things as I thought he was. And also made me think that maybe I was.
The front cover was colourful and had the name of the song and the band emblazoned upon it, along with a picture of two cats dancing, brilliant. It was a far cry from the plain blackness of the Speak Like A Child cover which didn’t even feature the name of the song on it. The song itself also had a very different sound to it. The vocal was amazing and scared me a little bit. The overall melody of the song was unmistakably my sort of thing. I bought it, bided farewell to Trevor and Bob who seemed to quite like me, as did I them, and then made my way home to listen.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Currently in the process of publishing the sequel to my novel ‘My Name Is Tom’. Its set around 5 years after Tom finishes and is mostly set in Australia. Also, about three quarters of the way through writing the third book in the trilogy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Right after I first realised that I wasn’t going to be a musician. So, a few days ago. But tomorrow, I may well write a song that makes me reconsider. And then the next day, I’ll be a writer again. I basically just like being creative.

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?
During the day I am a Business Analyst for a large construction company here in sunny England, which pays the bills and keeps me off the streets. But - and don’t tell my boss this, although I suspect he already knows - I spend more time writing whilst at work than I spend doing my job. But I’m in charge of my own diary, so as long as the job is done, it doesn’t really matter. But still don’t tell him. The rest of my life is spent with my amazing Zimbabwean wife and looking after my somewhat annoying, octogenarian, quite unwell, parents. I love them really, though.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My writing style is indicative of the way me and my friends have always talked to each other. We all like to think we are extremely funny, but often people are laughing at us and not with us. But either way, as long as they’re laughing, it’s all good. Also, as is the case in general life for me, I relate everything to music.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Musician – still do. Or a dentist.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes - listen to the Beatles more. But if you already are doing that, listen to Joy Division more and if you’re already doing that, listen to New Order more – I won’t go on, but you get the general idea. And take comfort in your own thoughts.

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Thanks for joining me today, Jon.

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