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Ray Nesbitt from the Windsor and Eton Express interviewed me in March 2008 as part of a 'Local Author' editorial. This is the full transcript, a 'distilled' version having been used for publication.

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To begin, Julian, why have you left it so late in life to start authoring books, when clearly you have a certain flair for writing?

Well the fact is, I've always enjoyed writing. Even at primary school I got a buzz out of writing essays, and fortunately I still have one of these short stories - which I've published on this site - The Mysterious Ghost. But to answer your question, it never occurred to me to take up writing as a serious creative occupation. I've always funnelled my enjoyment of writing into the demands of the workplace, and this has satiated, to a greater degree, my need for literary self-expression.

OK, so what finally inspired you to start writing fiction?

Four years ago I retired. Not wanting to be idle l looked to devise a simple business venture that could be regarded as both work and pleasure. Plenty of ideas came to mind, but implementing them successfully required time, money and effort, and did I really want that sort of commitment?. Then out of the blue, I realised that instead of trying to formulate and implement business ideas for real, I could go the virtual route and make things happen in a fictional environment. The wonderful thing about writing is that you can create anything you want: people, places, situations, a trip to Mars, millionaires, tramps, exotic buildings, successful businesses - and all from the kitchen table.

And what inspired the subject of your first novel?

Out of nowhere a storyline came to mind. Perhaps it was just a daydream, or an idle reverie, but somehow it stuck, and I found myself adding substance each time I revisited the scenario.

How did you develop the story - did you plan it out beforehand?

I would have preferred to have created a framework for the novel and then fleshed out the detail. But I didn't know how the story would pan out and I certainly had no idea how it would end. So it was a case of progressively building on the initial theme.

So how did you get the necessary inspiration to progress the novel?

For me, the process was as if a creative part of my mind was crafting the storyline, and drip-feeding it into my conscious mind in fits and starts. I say this, because each progressive increment of the story would come to mind spontaneously - it was almost a case of sitting around waiting until the lights came on.

Is the material in your books based on personal experience?

Definitely - one of the advantages of writing at my age is being able to draw on the accumulated experience of people, places and situations. But I hasten to add that neither of my books is a parody of myself or my life. Most of my characters, though, are styled verbatim on people I've known.

How would describe your style?

I've tended to adopt the sort of stylistics that would appeal to me. Thus I aim for good economy of words, the avoidance of overly long descriptive passages and sub-plots that have little relevance and are little more than padding. I try to keep the narrative slick and well paced and ensure that all the storyline threads tie in properly. Good characterisation is key, such that the reader can almost believe the players really exist. Realism is important. Too many novels comprise events and detail that simply wouldn't or couldn't exist in true life. Most important perhaps, is a completely unique storyline, one that hasn't been recycled.

And what audience are you targeting?

Anyone who likes an entertaining storyline, twelve years old and above.

I understand you self-publish your books - why?

Finding a publisher who'll take on a relatively new author is extremely difficult. That aside, most publishers would want to take control of my creative output, which I wouldn't be happy about. Self-publishing is very  affordable these days and if my books take off, a greater percentage of the sales revenue will find its way into my pocket than through conventional channels.

What is your next book about?

It's a bit of a deviation from fictional novels - a children's illustrated storybook. The central character is Jack, who is, believe it or not, a trolley jack, the type used in garages to jack up vehicles. The book's aimed at young boys, aged five to eight, for whom there is a defined shortage of reading material. This will be on the shelves in October this year (2008).

Julian, thanks for talking with me and good luck with you various publications. 

 

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