Wednesday, March 14, 2012

10 Questions with Writer John Black (@JohnBlackWriter)

This Author Spotlight features UK-based writer John Black, author of WORK OF ART (see above).
John has an interesting and varied background, as do many writers, as he says:
I am a writer living in the UK. I was born in Yorkshire but grew up in Lincolnshire. After living in various other parts of the country I am currently back in, as Henry VIII called it, ‘The most brute and beastly of my shires’. (It’s not that bad…)
Avoiding anything as sensible as a career, I’ve tried to do as many jobs as possible that would sound interesting in a writer’s CV. These include postman, night receptionist in a motel, running a market stall, ebay trader and something involving chicken bones and a skip I’d rather not think about, plus a lot of much less interesting sounding jobs in IT.

When not writing I tend to do things like walking, watching films, surfing the Internet, photography and drinking the odd glass of whiskey.

1. How did you get into writing?
Many many years ago I remember throwing a book at a wall because it was so bad (sorry, the title of it has been lost in the mists of time) and I just knew I could do better myself. However I kind of messed around for a while without really producing anything. Doing a post-grad course where I had to do a lot of writing (I had done engineering first time around) was the main spur. I started on non-fiction and comics scripting - and had a few bits and pieces published which encouraged me - before moving on to short stories and eventually starting on novels 

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I’ve heard you can divide writers into those that like to write but hate to edit and those that hate getting the words down but find the rewriting, editing and polishing part a lot easier. I’m one of the latter. Also like the bits before and after the actual writing – the research and shaping of a story before I write and the feeling of accomplishment when I finish something. 

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I almost always write from an outline. For a novel that’ll eventually end up a sentence or so for every scene or major plot point. Although this is only ever a guide and I’ll update it as I go along as new ideas will come as I write. I try and write every day but sometimes Real Life intervenes. Each time I sit down to write I go over what I’ve written the previous time(s) and edit/polish it before moving on to new stuff. I’ll usually re-write something several times before I’m happy with - I can never seem to get everything in that I want to first time around.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Been a big fan of Iain Banks (and Iain M. Banks) right from when I first read the paperback of The Wasp Factory. Also love the work of Tim Willocks. I like how they both write in fairly mainstream genres but bring a literary sensibility to them. Another fave is Alan Moore who does the same thing with comics / graphic novels.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Outside… and I’d have used single quotes.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I’ve a wide taste in music but I can’t say I’m really a fan of Vampire Weekend.

7. What is your book Work of Art about and how did it come to fruition?
On the night he was awarded the Turner prize for his art, Jason learned that his fiancĂ©e, and fellow artist Catherine, had killed herself. Worse, it was a suicide pact. She had leapt off a cliff, hand in hand with her secret lover – with a video camera set up to record the event as their final artwork.

Devastated by this, at first Jason contemplates killing himself too. However he finds himself compelled to discover just what Catherine meant by the cryptic comments she made to the camera just before she jumped.

Jason starts on a journey that will take him both across London and back through the memories of his past relationship with Catherine in the hedonist art world of the nineteen-nineties as he unearths the many hidden lives that she has led.

A journey that will end with a shocking conclusion when Jason discovers Catherine’s ultimate artwork.

A dark mystery. A gripping thriller. An erotic romance. A work of art.

Basically I was sitting in a railway station with a terrible hangover and I dreamed up the whole plot of Work of Art to keep myself amused (the whole story is on my blog).

8. What’s your current writing project?
I’m currently writing a crime novel set in Nottingham. Also have a science fiction novel pretty much plotted out that I hope to write later in the year.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Cosa Nostra by John Dickie – it’s a non-fiction book about the Sicilian Mafia that I got for Christmas. It’s more like a history book than the usual lurid true crime. I’ve already got an idea or two for books of my own from it!

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
The fact that, despite it being hard work, I’m much happier writing than not writing.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Work of Art is available in paperback and ebook formats (Kindle, Nook, ebook, etc) at Amazon, Smashwords and all the other usual places.

Thanks, John, for sharing your story and your novel. Let us know when the Knottingham crime novel is available.

Be sure to visit John's website and purchase a copy of WORK OF ART today.

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