A Lover of Books

Archive for the day “March 12, 2017”

Extract from ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ by David John Griffin

Following on from my interview with David John Griffin, I now have a short story for you from ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’.

 

Book Blurb

Dogs are reported for their constant barking …and so begins one of the strangest stories you will ever read. Audrey Ackerman, sent to visit the dogs at a 17th century coach house, is unsettled by paranormal sightings. Stella Bridgeport – manager at The Animal Welfare Union – communicates with Audrey via emails. And those Stella receives are as startling as they are incredible: descriptions of extraordinary events concerning a science fiction writer’s journal; giant swans; bizarre android receptionist; a ghost dog. Insanity or fantasy? Fact or fiction? The only given is, it all starts and ends with two dogs at The One Dog Inn…and other stories: 12 short stories with aspects of the macabre, the surreal or the strangeness of magical realism to entertain and delight you.

 

Extract

Extract from ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’

 

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Interview with David John Griffin

I am pleased to welcome David John Griffin back to my blog.  His new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ was recently published.  I asked David some questions about it.

 

Your new book, ‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ sounds intriguing. Can you tell me a bit about it please?

It is an imaginative novella with a selection of twelve short stories. The novella is a heady mixture of magical realism, the paranormal and a dose of sci-fi too.

The novella is unusual in as much as it’s laid out as the emails between the two women, interspersed with a science fiction writer’s journal. The story is strange and becomes stranger by the page, keeping the reader “ head-scratching” right to the end. Though eventually all of the jigsaw puzzle pieces come together to present a satisfactory and surprising solution.

The short stories cover a variety of genres including science fiction, magical realism, even a ghost story! All the stories have a “twist in the tail” to surprise and entertain the reader.

 

Have you been writing short stories for long?

Not for as long as I would like: I’ve been writing short stories since the early 90’s. Up until then I concentrated on writing novels. Interesting to note that the novella Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn started life as a short story: I was aiming for 5 to 6000 words. But before I knew it, it had gained a life of its own and came out to over 31,000 words. All of my short stories have one thing in common in the main – they start life without a genre. It’s only after I’ve written a short story do I know what type of story it is.

 

Is the paranormal a subject you are interested in?

Not in an everyday sense and to be honest, I’m surprised how many of my stories have paranormal themes. It’s crept up on me (which is spooky in its own way!).

 

What would your reaction be if you met any of the characters from your books for real?

If it was a few from my first novel, The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb, I’d run a mile! Not quite but some of them are despicable, in particular Theodore Stubb. If I met Donald Clement from Infinite Rooms I’d want to help him. He’s such a fragile personality. I would enjoy meeting Audrey and Stella from Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn, I feel I would get on well with them. Even meeting Gideon Hadley, the science fiction writer from the novella, would be an interesting experience and as he’s a writer, I think we would have a lot to talk about.

It’s strange to think I’d ever meet any of my characters; it’s an interesting question! Which reminds me: The One Dog Inn – the 17th century former coach house – is described in detail in Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn which caused my wife Susan to express a desire to stay there if only it had been real!

 

Do you have a regular writing routine?

No, is the short answer. I have bouts of writing interspersed with months of no writing, which is when I try to catch up on my reading. I tend not to read much when I’m writing – I don’t want to be overtly influenced too much. When I am writing, even that will vary day by day although most of the writing will happen in the evenings. I have just finished the first draft of a science fiction novel which I managed to write in the space of three weeks. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written in my life…

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

I’ve written my third novel, a fantasy tale which is currently under consideration. It’s byline is “A fantastical journey of imagination”. Then there’s my science fiction novel mentioned previously which I have to finish. After that, I have plans for yet another novel, a magical realism “Tall” tale. Plenty of work ahead for me!

 

How did you come to be published by Urbane Publications?

After pursuing literary agents without success, I tried a few publishers, and got a few “near-hits” but always they pulled out at the last hurdle… then I discovered Urbane Publications via Twitter. So I sent both my first and second novels to Matthew – and the rest is history, as they say. I was drawn to Urbane as they offer a refreshing and innovative style of publishing, particularly when it comes to the closer collaboration between publisher and author. Which means in my case, amongst other things, that Matthew of Urbane allows me to use my own cover designs. (I’m a graphic designer by trade). I also like the fact that Urbane realises that some authors aren’t overnight successes and that it take time and patience to reach a wider platform.

 

Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to write a book?

Write! I mean to say, too much thinking about it can spoil the flow, I think, you have to start typing/writing and keep at it. You don’t have to write every day necessary but even with the odd half an hour here and there, the words soon start building up. I’d also say, don’t worry about the quality of the first draft, plough on till the end without going back to amend anything, including word corrections. That can all be done in the 2nd and subsequent drafts. Write that first draft as if no one else on the planet will ever see it (which is often the case anyway). Finally, make sure your plot is watertight – it helps to have someone else read your final draft before sending off to a literary agent or publisher. Their fresh eyes will spot such things, as well as spelling mistakes which you might have become “word-blind” to.

 

If you had the chance to live your life all over again do you think you would still write books?

Definitely: I love writing. It’s a craft that can never be fully learned, I believe. Each novel is as difficult as the last one, I’m finding, each with their own particular quandaries/problems which need to be solved. That is part of the fascination of writing for me. Having said that, there are certain aspects which are easier the more experienced you are, the more “writing miles” you have under your belt. Who was it said that writing is like exercising muscles – the more you write, the stronger you will get.

 

Notebooks or Computers?

I always carry a notebook with me so that if I’ve a line or an idea I can jot it down straight away before it’s forgotten. For actual writing, I by far prefer the computer. I’m not one for longhand when it comes to actual writing, although I know of other authors who swear by this approach before they get anywhere near a typewriter or computer. For interest, I wrote my first two novels on a good old-fashioned typewriter.

 

Links

‘Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn And Other Stories’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/two-dogs-at-the-one-dog-inn/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-Dogs-One-Dog-Inn/dp/1911331159

‘Infinite Rooms’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/infinite-rooms/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infinite-Rooms-gripping-psychological-thriller/dp/1910692603/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1488574787&sr=1-1

‘The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-unusual-possession-of-alastair-stubb/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unusual-Possession-Alastair-Stubb/dp/1910692344/ref=pd_sbs_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=5K0V3BDFE4JZEVPJ3NZD

Website – http://www.davidjohngriffin.com

Twitter – @MagicalRealized

 

Guest Post by Andrew Smith

I’m delighted to welcome Andrew Smith back to my blog for this event.  Last year his book, ‘The Speech’ was published and it has been doing well.  Andrew has written a guest post.

 

WRITING POLITICAL HISTORICAL FICTION IN THE AGE OF ‘POST-TRUTH’

You’d think that when M.P. Harold Wilson, who was destined to become Prime Minister, patted me on my six-year-old head, he may have endowed me with an instant interest in politics. But the truth is I was a disappointment to my parents, staunch Labour supporters at the time, who’d placed me in front of Wilson at a Labour Party event. As I grew older it was painfully obvious to everybody that I had no interest whatsoever in political debate. Later, as I watched my fellow art students campaign and demonstrate, I couldn’t understand the point of making such a fuss. I was a spoilt recipient of the considerable benefits of a post-war welfare state. What reason was there for me to protest? It wasn’t until the draconian days of Margaret Thatcher, when the country became more polarised than ever, that my interest was aroused. And then it was less about policies and more about individuals. Thatcher in particular fascinated me. I wondered about a person who could inflict obvious harm on so many — miners and their families in particular, but others too — with absolutely no apparent regret, or any attempt to compensate. As politicians came and went, it was their personalities that interested me, more than any particular policy or platform.

In 2012 I found myself looking around for a subject for a second novel. My first had had an actual event at its centre — the internment of Italian men living in Britain during World War II. I’d enjoyed writing imaginary characters whose lives were immeasurably altered by that dark episode in Britain’s history. I was hoping for a similar phenomena around which to build a story worthy of a full-length novel. Then, one day, listening to a particularly bigoted and racist speech by a UKIP member — perhaps Nigel Farage — the name Enoch Powell popped into my head. I remembered the brouhaha Powell had caused when he gave his so-called Rivers of Blood speech back in 1968, when I was a student. I felt the excitement every writer wishes for when a light bulb turns on in one’s head. The late 1960s was certainly a defining time, and one with which I was familiar. And if I’ve had any small-p political zeal at all, it’s been in defence of the victimization of the less fortunate, hence my interest in the cruel internment of innocent British Italians in my first novel — the objects of UKIP’s and Powell’s racist rhetoric also had my heartfelt sympathy. The elements were all present for a project tailor-made for me.

I spent the following months researching everything I could find that concerned Enoch Powell. I poured over two comprehensive biographies, numerous newspaper and magazine articles, TV and radio interviews, documentaries, several books and academic papers on the Rivers of Blood speech, Powell’s own papers stored in Churchill College, Cambridge, and various other ephemera about him and his family. And, perhaps most valuable of all, I talked to the few surviving people who’d actually known Powell.

I remember distinctly a moment during my research when the thought occurred to me that, whatever I eventually wrote, I had a duty to do Enoch Powell justice — flawed and prejudiced as he obviously was. My resolve to portray him in an unbiased and accurate manner may have come when I began to have intimations of the complexity of his character. When, for example, I learnt that he’d voted to decriminalise homosexuality. Or when he voted to abolish capital punishment. Or maybe it was simply when I learnt from various sources, his own writing included, what a solitary and pressured childhood he’d had. The sense of journalistic fairness I experienced may well derive from my time working for a newsmagazine for which I was art director. I well remember the endless debates at editorial meetings about what could and couldn’t be reported. There were huge efforts to ensure that whatever was published was true, fair, and as unbiased as possible. The exact opposite, it seems, to the policies of some publications today, in the age of so-called ‘post-truth.’ But most of all, I realised that it was vital to make Enoch Powell — as one ought to do for any character in a novel — as fully-formed, rounded, and complete as possible.

I believe this to be true of all aspects in any historical fiction, particularly political historical fiction. And what historical fiction is not, in some shape or form, political? Successful historical fiction takes a vast amount of research coupled with a burning desire to accurately portray whatever era and individuals appear. I certainly strived to do this in The Speech — for the 1960s, for the imaginary characters who represent the population of the time, and for Enoch Powell.

 

Links

‘The Speech’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-speech/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Speech-gripping-historical-thriller/dp/1911129511/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489314980&sr=1-1

Twitter – @andrewaxiom

 

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