The lovely PJ Whiteley has been on my blog a couple of times now. He is back with another guest post, this time about his second novel, ‘Marching on Together’ which is due out next year.
Would like to meet …
Guest blog by PJ Whiteley
Let me introduce you to someone I’d like you to meet. He’s called Johnny Collins. Actually, his full name is Paul Johnny Collins, but somehow in childhood the middle name stuck. Also in childhood, he lost the little finger of his right hand in an accident with a car door. Fortunately, he plays guitar right-handed, in which case he presses the strings down on the fretboard with his left hand.
In my second novel Marching on Together (Urbane Publications, due February 2017), set in August 2014, we meet Johnny, his brother Allan and four of their friends, on a trip to Bruges. Johnny is still single, and at a very low point in his life. To some extent, he’s still haunted by events from nearly a quarter of a century earlier. Why can he still not listen to that Beatles song? Who is he ‘really’ thinking of in the song he has composed ‘The One Who Got Away’?
My short story Gringos Can’t Dance, published this autumn in e-format, tells a snippet of Johnny’s back story, from June 1991, when he was just 19 years old, during a tumultuous trip to South America with his best friend Pablo, son of a Chilean exile. How can one night from 23 years earlier have a bigger, deeper impact on his feelings than almost anything else, apart from losing his Mum, before or since?
The idea of a short prequel, a taster to the next novel, came to me partly through a quest for reader engagement, and partly out of thinking deeply about the characters’ back stories. I like to have convincing characters, who feel like people you’ve actually met. Relating both the recent events and an impactful flashback will, I hope, enhance the emotional engagement on the part of the reader with the character. I decided to publish the story, and offer it free, to coincide with the launch of my new author website. But it’s an experiment. What do readers of this blog think?
To receive the free short story in pdf form, Gringos Can’t Dance, register for the PJ Whiteley Book Club via this link: http://pjwhiteley.com/contact/
PJ Whiteley recently interviewed Louis de Bernieres for H Edition magazine. His blog on the article can be read here: https://felipewh.wordpress.com/2016/10/21/louis-and-me/