Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with humour novelist Jonathan Dunne. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Jonathan. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Jonathan: Hi Morgen. I’m originally from Limerick, Ireland, in the South-West. I’ve been living in Toledo, Spain for the last 12 years where I’m married to a sensible Spanish woman who lets me hide in the attic (just to write, nothing weird) and we have two little girls. Toledo is a medieval town and people wear period costumes to fit in. I discovered I was a write when I discovered that I had written a plot that joined the items on my shopping list.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Jonathan: I have a natural bent towards comic writing which plays havoc with my right knee during long walks. I once sent my hot thriller to a London agent and she asked me if it was a parody? She thought it was hilarious. I couldn’t take myself seriously after that.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Jonathan: I’ve been publishing short stories since my early twenties (37 now). I don’t write under a pseudonym because I’d get really jealous of my alter-ego.
Morgen: 🙂 Have you self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?
Jonathan: Yes I have. I enjoy the freedom and the knowing that my novel Balloon Animals was written as I would’ve wanted it. Let the public decide, not an agent for them, and see what happens. If people like your book, great, if not, well at least you know now.
Morgen: Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Jonathan: I read both but I’m looking for a happy medium, something half-paper and half ebook. That would be perfect.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Jonathan: Michael Cera would play my lead character Jonny Rowe or Zach Galifianakis.
Morgen: Which author(s) would you compare your writing to?
Jonathan: There’s nobody like me, thank God. That can be good and bad. Thriller writers are 2-a-penny cos there’s a great market but less so for humourous novels which always surprises me. I prefer to go to sleep with a smile on my face rather than checking under the bed for an assassin.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Jonathan: A book is judged by its cover. At the moment, Kindle is full of rubbish with great covers and vice-versa. The problem is, a reader won’t look beyond the cover if its amateur.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Jonathan: My next comic novel is called Living Dead Lovers (My Sick Romance). It’s about a fiery-tongued half-gypsy psychic medium who falls in love with one of her dead clients. Sort of.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Jonathan: Have to. Writing is my morning-cigarette, literally. If I don’t write I feel at odds with the world and the world feels at odds with me so everybody wins.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Jonathan: Writing is a dot-to-dot activity. Dots are ideas. If you get enough maybe you can find a narrative plot between them and, bang, you’ve got the bigger picture.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Jonathan: I like to read their dialogue aloud to flesh them out. Generally their appearance says a lot about them. My characters tell me where they want to go.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Jonathan: Normally I write and a rewrite and that’s it. After that I become alienated and nobody likes an alien. Well, ET was quite down-to-Earth.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Jonathan: A little.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking?
Jonathan: Funnily enough, Balloon Animals is written in the first person and also Living Dead Lovers…
Morgen: Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Jonathan: Lots. I love receiving them, they make me feel alive. But now Kindle’s arrived and Smashwords.
Morgen: Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Jonathan: Not really, I hate paying for them.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Jonathan: I almost had 4 agents. I think it’s beneficial to have 1 but not necessary these days. Maybe they can open doors that you can’t.
Morgen: Do you do much marketing for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Jonathan: Indie writers spend 50% writing the novel and 50% selling it. It’s very easy to get lost at sea. Have you prepped your life-jacket?
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Jonathan: Love it all. Can’t complain.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Jonathan: Write from the gut. If they don’t like it don’t try to adapt cos it shows in the writing. Eventually what you’re writing will be trending.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Jonathan: Running after my little girls, literally. Strolling through my local cemetery.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Jonathan: I’m on Twitter and FB and Goodreads. I’m not sure how effective they are. Twitter seems to be nothing but writers pitching to other writers but at least people get to know who you are. I go on Twitter with my sweatpants cos I tend to sweat when I’m peddlin my fiction. It’s possible to reach thousands, opposed to FB. But FB is good in other ways.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Jonathan: Who knows? A writer will write no matter what and if he /she has a little success then so be it.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Jonathan: My blog is http://jonathanwdunne.wordpress.com
Twitter @ WriterJDunne
FB @ jonathan.dunne
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jonathan: My book is on the top 100 Best Humourous Books list @ Goodreads voted by readers.
Morgen: Congratulations, they’re a tough crowd. 🙂 Thank you, Jonathan.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
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