This week’s Tuesday Talk sees me joined by author Richard Gould. Good morning Richard and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?
Thanks for inviting me, Jo. This is a great blog site and I’m delighted to be able to contribute. I write contemporary romantic fiction. Writing in this genre is unusual for a male. My readers are predominantly female and the feedback I receive suggests that the male take on relationships offers an interesting insight.
I’m published by Accent Press and was taken on following membership of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. I live in Cambridge and am a member of Cambridge Writers where I lead the Commercial Editing Group. Writing can be a lonely activity, but being a member of these two groups brings valuable opportunities to share ideas and receive feedback.
My most recent novel, Jack and Jill Went Downhill, an adult take on the nursery rhyme, is my third publication with a fourth soon to follow.
How did your writing journey begin?
I’ve written many factual articles about education, quite serious stuff addressing underachievement and social mobility. My fiction is a lighter-hearted antidote. The journey into fiction began because of two strong interests. The first, quite simply, is people. I’m fascinated by diversity, resilience, mood swings, irrationality and unexpected pathways. I found myself sitting on a train or at a restaurant, aware that next to me was a wealth of story potential. About ten or so years ago I started jotting down ideas and the imagined characters I created were soon emerging as the protagonists in my novels. A second interest (or maybe fixation is more appropriate!) is humour. I tend to see the funny side of things, even adversity. I use irony and humour to describe my protagonists’ searches for a fulfilling relationship, with considerable mock pathos as they overcome juggernaut-loads of baggage on their journeys to romance.
You’re a writer of romantic fiction. Is there any other genre that you might be tempted to write?
I’m male. I shouldn’t be writing Romance if my experience of being a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association is anything to go by. At their conferences with 200+ delegates, there will be no more than ten or so male authors attending. I didn’t set out to write Romance, I just got put there by my publisher (Accent Press), this no doubt because I write about relationships. In my novels, a mix of highly eccentric and plain ordinary men and women are trying to make the most of their lives. I suppose one distinction between Romance and more typical male writer genres – Espionage and Crime, for instance – is the focus on character rather than plot. That’s not to say that plot isn’t important, but it’s the people who drive the plot in my writing.
So – and it’s taken quite some time to reach an answer to your question – it’s probably ‘no’. With over seven billion people in the world, there’s enough raw material to keep me writing about relationships for quite some time. As an aside, using ‘R J’ instead of ‘Richard’ in my author name is my cowardly compromise after agents suggested that as a Romance writer, I should use a pseudonym.
Where do you get your inspiration for your characters from?
In both A Street Café Named Desire and The Engagement Party, a real life event and people triggered the story – a school reunion and a party. From that starting point imagination takes over as the experience is twisted and distorted beyond all recognition. There might be a similarity between a protagonist and a real life person, maybe someone I know or a person I’ve spoken to at the event and they sound interesting. At speed that person is transformed. I’d never tell someone that they were a character in my novel though I think one friend has guessed but never confronted me about it.
Beach or city? Which location attracts you the most and have you any favourite destination?
I’m OK with beaches, though more for the scenery than hanging around in a lounger frying all day long. But it’s city for me, for the cultural opportunities – the art galleries, cinema, theatre, music, historical buildings – and for all those people to observe as potential future protagonists. As far as favourite destination goes, it would be anywhere in Italy.
Are you currently working on a new book? If so, can you tell us something about it?
I’m working on two novels, one at the final editing stage and one about two-thirds through the first write.
Nothing Man is the story of a mid-fifties man contemplating suicide. Recent difficulties have led to this decision, most significantly, his wife walking out on him and being made redundant. He feels he has nothing to look back on with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope. Bearing in mind the first section of the novel is sub-titled ‘Life Before Suicide Day’ and the second part ‘Life After Suicide Day’, it’s hardly a spoiler to state that he doesn’t go through with it. It turns out that he’s anything but a nothing man as he finds friendship then romance together with career success at a national environmental charity. I hope to have this released late Autumn 2017. (Do email me via my website if you’d like notification of release).
I have a working title for the second novel, but am as yet undecided. This is the tale of a middle-aged couple who seem to be competing for who can have (according to their children) the most embarrassing mid-life crisis.
And lastly, you are holding a dinner party and are planning to invite four famous guests (either living or dead). Who would you choose and why?
What a difficult question, there are so many options, ranging from 20th Century dictators (why on earth did you do what you did?), to Impressionist artists (did being despised by mainstream artists upset you?), to leading scientists (could you please explain in layman’s terms what on earth you’re going on about?).
Here are my four:
- Charlie Chaplin (for his film work and politics),
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman (for an understanding of her motive for writing The Yellow Wallpaper),
- Steven Spielberg (for how to write and direct great movies – did you know that he was in special needs at school),
- and Nicole Kidman (it’s a romance thing!)
R J Gould Website and social media links
A Street Café Named Desire: A heartwarming romantic comedy
A man’s quest for two dreams – a relationship with the gorgeous Bridget and opening an arts café.
David meets Bridget at a twenty-five year school reunion and instantly develops a teenagesque passion for her.
There is a juggernaut-load of baggage to overcome ahead of having any chance of a relationship – a demanding soon to be ex-wife, a tyrannical new boss, an accountancy job he detests, stroppy teenage children, and encounters with the police.
There’s a further distraction, his plan to quit his job and set up an arts café is proving to be more challenging than he anticipated.
Amazon link: http://Mybook.to/streetcafe
The Engagement Party: A laugh out loud romantic comedy about family relationships
Two young lovers; two families; one celebration destined to be a disaster.
Wayne and Clarissa are a young London couple whose immediate families are about to meet for the first time. Trying to create harmony amongst mums and dads from very diverse backgrounds and social classes is hard enough but in this case, there are eight parents, step-parents and partners to deal with.
The couple are deeply in love, but tensions arising from the forthcoming lunch party have created such a rift that it’s touch and go whether their relationship is strong enough to survive the event.
If you think your family has its “issues” this book will make you appreciate that things could be a lot worse!
Amazon link: http://Mybook.to/theengagementparty
Jack and Jill Went Downhill: An adult take on the nursery rhyme
The story of two young lovers who happen to be called Jack and Jill.
Jack and Jill meet on Freshers Big Party Night at an English university and for both of them it’s love at first sight. Despite their backgrounds, personalities and interests being poles apart, the relationship flourishes during their student years.
It’s not quite as comfortable when their studies are over and they move to London to start work.
Way back when they’d first met, they shared the joke that their names were those of the nursery rhyme. Down the line, they fail to recognise that their lives are matching the plot. Jack falls down, Jill comes tumbling after, and their relationship is on the rocks. Can it survive?