Eight Questions is an occasional series of interviews that I’m including on the site. Being a naturally gifted (read: lazy) interviewer, I will be using the same eight questions in every interview.
This time, I’m answering the questions myself! I’m best known in literary circles for setting up and running the annual writing event, Novel-in-a-Day, as well as producing the overarching stories used in all of the books. I’ve also collaborated with the guys at Literature and Latte to produce the Sci Fi translated interface for Scrivener and Scapple on Windows, and from time to time have dabbled in various pieces of fiction and the occasional technical writing exercise.
1 – What did you do before you did this and what do you miss about it?
The non-artistic half of my head is still actively employed in doing the things I used to do before I did this, but that guy’s busy all the time and not as interesting.
The biggest thing that The Pigfender Personality would miss about the other guy’s job (if it were to stop at some point) revolves around the people. You know those Aaron Sorkin TV programs, like The West Wing or The Newsroom? The ones where teams of bright people work with passion and energy towards a common goal? And they don’t mind shouting at each other on occasion, but generally work in this hugely collaborative environment of mutual respect and friendship?
That’s exactly how I imagine I’ll misremember it afterwards.
2 – How many projects are you working on at the moment and what can you tell us about them?
The main one is a legal thriller about a guy called Dave. He’s a recovered alcoholic, a terrible lawyer, and a good husband and father whose life unravels when he gets into a car accident with a homeless pedestrian called Roy and a dog called Dog. I’ve been working on it for a while now. It’s great fun (for me, anyway) but it’s the piece that gets put on hold every time I have to put my creative energies (or, you know, just regular energies) into other things.
I’m also working on an idea that could be the next Novel-in-a-Day if that goes ahead in 2016, but you’ll have to wait until an as-yet-undetermined weekend in October to learn about that one.
3 – If you had to quit either reading or writing which would you pick?
I’d quit writing.
I did have to think about it, though. I don’t love books, per se. There are individual books that I love, and I have several authors whose books I really enjoy, but it’s not the medium in particular that roasts my chicken. It’s stories.
If I quit reading, I could still get my story kick by watching movies, or maybe even by taking part in real life… but there are some very specific books I’d miss like the amazing Flowers for Algernon which I didn’t write and never will [sadface], and I’d get really grumpy when the latest Lee Child came out and I wasn’t able to pick it up.
4 – If you could magic another hour into the day, where would you put it and what would you use it for?
Since actually getting an hour for lunch in my real life is rare, I’d use the magic to stop the clock on the world whenever I’ve sat down with a food and caffeine combo, and delight in reading, writing, listening to music, or just sitting there and letting my sub-conscious do the things sub-consciouses are supposed to do to stop you going peculiar.
5 – What is your pet hate in writing / language?
I’ve previously written about misusing words whose meaning is obvious (such as the word ‘unique’). The thing that irritates me most, though, is when people can’t resist showing off their research with that whole here’s-everything-I-know-on-this-subject approach.
It turns me off to read long sections – or even short paragraphs, to be honest – of this kind of stuff in writing. In conversation, it starts me thinking about imaginative death scenarios.
6 – Are there any genres that you love to read but which you never write?
Novel-in-a-Day gives me the opportunity to work in different genres, so I’m lucky to have that outlet for more diverse fiction genres.
I enjoy a good travelogue from time to time. Bill Bryon’s Walk in the Woods, for example, is pretty funny. I can’t see me writing one, though. The idea of telling the general public where the Really Good Places are sounds like it’ll make it harder for me and Mrs Pigfender to get a table for dinner, and it strikes me as perverse to put yourself in the position of wanting your own book to be unpopular and uninfluential.
7 – Do you have any writing rituals, habits or idiosyncrasies that you can share?
I like to think I’m pretty normal, without any superstitions or rider requests. I can write pretty much anywhere, especially if I have noise cancelling headphones with me.
Incorporating non-IT solutions into my operational workflow (ie, using a pen) is an important part of my creative process. In fact, I’m a bit of a stationary snob. I use Smythson notebooks and the (now discontinued) Waterman Gentleman fountain pens. My version of the Scrivener writing software has all the icons switched out with bespoke ones that look like Smythson stuff.
I also LOVE whiteboards far more than a human should.
8 – What are you selling and where can I buy it?
Well, if you like writing you you should check out Novel-in-a-Day. It’s free.
If you like reading, there are books available from the previous NiaD events. They’re also free.
By popular request, you can buy NiaD t-shirts and mugs.