This week Write On! interviews author R J Gould.
Richard writes under the pseudonym R J Gould, for reasons soon to be explained. He has finally become a full-time author, having recently stepped down from working for a national educational charity. He is both traditionally and self-published, but from now on intends to go down the latter route alone; again, for a reason soon to be explained. He lives in Cambridge and in addition to writing (of course) and reading (also of course) he is a trustee of a food poverty charity, enjoys playing tennis, and has a mild addiction to dried mango slices.
WO: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it?
RJG: I write contemporary literary fiction about relationships which loosely slots me into the ‘Romance’ and ‘Women’s Fiction’ categories. Since readership in these genres is predominantly female, it was suggested I adopt a female pseudonym. I declined, instead going for the cowardly compromise of using the R J initials. I use both humour and pathos in my novels to describe the tragi-comic journeys of my protagonists in search of love. I would like to create a currently non-existent sub-genre to describe most closely what I write: Satirical Romance.
WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, The Bench By Cromer Beach?
RJG: The idea for the novel came during a visit to this sleepy holiday resort on the Norfolk coast. There was a line of benches on the promenade and I was drawn to one man peering down onto the beach. I’ve always been fascinated by how people can form such different perspectives about things and, in this case, I imagined a situation where what the man thought he was observing was far removed from the reality. As the lives of five families intertwine, including his own, cracks start to appear during a year that changes everything.
WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?
RJG: I’ve enjoyed writing for a long time. I wrote my first short story when I was in my teens and by then was an avid reader of fiction. Then came full-time employment and, soon after, children, combining to make it a huge challenge to find time to write. I know some authors overcome this challenge and I have huge admiration for them. When I relocated, almost 20 years ago, I joined Cambridge Writers. It was working with fellow writers that kick-started thoughts about publishing a novel; even if it meant doing most of my writing between nine pm and midnight. What inspires me now is the sheer enjoyment of developing and expressing ideas and, at last, having more time available to write!
WO: The current issue of Write On! explores the theme of ‘Hope’. It’s such a simple word but the feeling behind it can inspire greatness, lift people out of difficult times and act as a beacon for good things to come. How does hope keep you writing, inspired and motivated?
RJG: Is it ‘Hope’ that keeps me writing? To a small extent, there is the hope that one of my novels will be discovered as a work that merits a film or TV series. With that unlikely (let’s be truthful here), I do hope those who read my books enjoy doing so. The BIG challenge with self-publishing is gaining visibility, and in recent months I have dedicated a lot of time researching how to promote and advertise to achieve this. Sadly, there is no magic formula. Hope extends beyond my writing, though; top of the list being safety for everyone during this dreadful pandemic. Another hope is that those involved with managing social media make more of an effort to tackle the current entitlement of anyone to insult and bully under the cover of anonymity.
WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?
RJG: I’ll choose something seemingly odd to cover my second ‘soon to be explained’ in the introduction. When you have written something, by all means, submit to agents and those publishers that accept scripts directly. But at the same time look into self-publishing. It requires effort but is so much easier now than a few years ago. Importantly, any stigma surrounding self-publishing has diminished. If you do well it can enhance your chances of finding a publisher, not reduce them. You will have demonstrated drive and determination and, in the meantime, you will have been able to earn some income.
WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects?
RJG: Now that I’m full-time writing, I’m planning at any one time to have one book recently released that needs promoting, one near-completion at the editing stage, and a new idea I have recently started. The end result, I hope, will be a book out each year. I’ll be releasing Nothing Man in Spring 2021. It’s the story of a man who believes he is worthless (life has been tough), but it turns out he’s anything but, as he enters a new relationship and finds fulfilling employment. As with all my novels, there is poignancy but, equally, humour. (Not sure if I’m allowed to write this, but if you visit my website and sign up to receive my newsletters, you’ll receive information about the release in addition to a free short story.)
WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?
RJG: My daughter lived in Australia for quite a while and I was lucky enough to be able to visit. It was great to see my daughter, but it was also great to see the koala bears, they’re so cute!
You can find out more about R J Gould here: www.rjgould.info and/or connect with him through Facebook: www.facebook.com/RJGouldauthor or Twitter: twitter.com/RJGould_author or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bench By Cromer Beach is available to buy from http://myboook.to/thebench (eBook) or www.feedaread.com/books/The-bench-by-Cromer-beach-9781839453724.aspx (paperback)
The BIG challenge with self-publishing is gaining visibility and, in recent months, I have dedicated a lot of time researching how to promote and advertise to achieve this.