As promised, I have an interview for you with the lovely Will Macmillan Jones, author of the hilarious Banned Underground books. It might have taken me a little longer than I first thought to get this posted, but what can I say? Writers are not necessarily the most organized lot. (Some may very well be, but I most certainly am not.)
KK: So, now that you’ve done it a couple of times, what’s it like to put out two books a year?
WMJ: What’s it like? Let me see…imagine being run over by a lawnmower, thrown in a washing machine, a tumble drier and finished off in an old fashioned mangle. It’s hard going. As you know, I don’t write especially long books, mainly for commercial reasons. But even so it is very hard work, both creatively and practically. But actually quite rewarding too. I can now look at my dressing table and see a line of my books. Yes, I’m really that sad as to have them on show in my bedroom, so that I can see them when I wake up.
KK: I see nothing wrong with that. In all honesty, I would likely do the same thing. 🙂 They say it takes three books to see success. Do you feel like that’s true? Why or why not?
WMJ: It certainly takes a few. I’m quite pleased that I can now say I’m selling more than a book a day, but it’s taken me more than three books. My publisher, bless him, did say to me the other month that he knows of a well known thriller writer who needed thirteen books before his sales suddenly took off. And with the ease of self publishing on Amazon now, I think many of us will need to hit books six or seven before we see real success.
KK: I have a feeling you may be right about that. It’s a bit daunting to consider such a possibility, especially for someone at the beginning of their career. But back to books – Caer Surdin are listed as the Goodies this time around, as opposed to the Baddies, while the Edern have gone from Not Quite So Good to Bad. What prompted such changes in allegiance?
WMJ: Ah, my baddies wanted to be goodies this time, so I let them. Sometimes it’s easier for a writer to let characters win little battles to keep them happy. But I suspect that the recategorisation of the big business men from good to bad might have a little more to do with my personal philosophy than their feelings! The Dark Wizards of Caer Surdin will have reverted to type when the next book comes out, in 2014.
KK: You’re not alone there – I don’t know many people who would be upset about a variety of big businesses dying slow, painful deaths. 🙂 I’d be interested in seeing someone wave a clarinet around while playing drunkenly to strangers on the shore, especially if they were playing “Stranger on the Shore.” What might such a spectacle look like?
WMJ: I’ve always been a bit of a jazz fan, and Strangers on The Shore is a fave song of mine. It’s a bit haunting and melancholy, don’t you think? But every time I saw Acker Bilk play that on TV, he seemed to have the sort of waistcoat you’d only wear if drunk, and the end of his clarinet waved about alarmingly. I think the image lingered in the back of my mind.
KK: It’s a favorite song of mine, too, forever intertwined for me with the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus and a worn-out old CD. I’ve never seen the show, though. Anyway, how many more adventures do you have planned for your cast of…um…well, your cast?
WMJ: Well Kay, my wonderful publisher has told me to just keep writing, although I plan to slow down to one a year soon, to allow other projects to bubble along as well. Plus I have found that writing so much, and earning my living as well, has restricted my marketing work and I’d like to put more efforts into that. Book 6, Have Frog, Will Travel is now almost complete for submission, the book after that is already a quarter written, and I have three more plot outlines already prepared. So The Banned will be rocking for a good while yet.
KK: Yaaaay! I can’t wait for the next installment. 🙂 I love all the various references and wordplay in the series. Is it hard to keep coming up with clever allusions to things?
WMJ: I think I have one of those ‘grasshopper’ minds, and because I love puns and wordplay so much, it never seems hard to find strange connections everywhere. One of my favourite authors, Sir Terry Pratchett, has a lovely comment in his book Moving Pictures. “Why are all Mr Dibbler’s films made against the background of a world gone mad?” “Because he is a very observant man.” And that’s pretty much how I feel. Our societies have become so weird and bizarre that it isn’t hard to find stuff to point fun at because they are, simply, mad.
Take the UK: Our currency is based on the formal promise to pay the bearer of a ten pound note the gold value equivalent of the currency note, if it is presented in person at The Bank of England. Now, that’s not going to happen, not least because one government sold off all the gold reserves, so we don’t actually have any. In the US, your government stops paying its workforce over a political disagreement about healthcare, whilst Syria – in the middle of a civil war claiming hundreds of thousands of lives – pays all the public employees on the nail. See? Madness lies all around.
KK: Yes, our society is pretty messed up. But don’t get me started on politics or we’ll be here all night. 😀 So, back to books once more. I once asked you to recommend a book and you named Fellwalking with Wainwright. Let’s have another recommendation!
WMJ: Did you look at the Wainwright book? I wonder! Well this time, I’m going to go back to my roots as a writer. And recommend The Goon Show Scripts by Spike Milligan. Spike was a true genius: his ability to blend satire, farce and surreal craziness may never be matched. Although I’m going to try.
KK: Sadly, I’ve not made the time to look at the Wainwright book, or very many others lately. I need to change that, and The Goon Show Scripts sounds wonderful. Thank you again for submitting to my inquisitive nature, and good luck with The SatNav of Doom!
If you missed my review of Will’s latest release, you can find it here, along with links to all of his various web presences. A click on the book cover above will take you to Amazon. It’s well worth the $.99 to get a copy for your very own.
(c) 2013. All rights reserved.
- Acker Bilk: Stranger on the Shore (1961) (atuneadayblogdotcom.wordpress.com)
- Spike Milligan: Man of Letters, review (telegraph.co.uk)