A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “Marching on Together”

Interview with PJ Whiteley

I am delighted to have PJ Whiteley back on my blog.  His new book, ‘Marching on Together’ was published last month and I asked him all about it.


As you know I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Marching on Together’ when it was a work in progress.  For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about it please?

Thanks Sonya. Marching on Together is about belonging, family and memory, with a hint of romance. A short description would be: ‘Last Orders meets Fever Pitch’. It follows six Leeds United supporters, two of them brothers, on a sojourn to Bruges and the Flanders battlefields in August 2014, for the centenary of the start of the First World War. Yvonne, a central character, has cause to reflect on how a sporting controversy from 1975 continues to haunt her. She was caught up in some post-match violence after a major final, then a transport strike; the combination knocked her young life off course, for reasons that become clearer as you read the book. At the age of 56 in 2014, she has the opportunity to reflect, but also, finally, to move on.


Where do you get your ideas from?

I love to combine depth and humour, and to have characters reflect on the most profound matters in quite mundane settings. Other writers can do war, murder and tragedy; I’m more fascinated by how a seemingly small turn of events can alter our life course, and even how we view the world, a bit like in the movie Sliding Doors. Sport and a sense of identity and belonging are also fascinating themes for me.


Are you a sports fan?

Yes, and I like to explore the comedy and tension that can lie when one person is devoted to a sport and their significant other is not! In Marching on Together I invert the stereotype because Yvonne is the obsessive football watcher and her husband becomes disenchanted, and feels left out. In Bruges, she has a bit of an argument with a German football fan, but then discovers he loves the band Genesis, and they bond over that. Plus, she fancies him.


What do you hope readers will get from ‘Marching on Together’?

I’ve had some very positive feedback, and strong start to sales; I think people engage with the characters. There’s drama in the fine line that can separate good and bad fortune in life – whether it’s on the football field or in your love life.


What would you do if one of your characters knocked on your door?

They wouldn’t dare: I know too much about them 😉


Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yes. I will write books for as long as I’m breathing. The third novel is called The Rooms We Never Enter, and it’s a spin-off from Marching on Together; it’s a romance, and there’s only a little sport this time!


Can you describe Urbane Publications in twenty words?

Urbane Publications is an innovative, independent publisher that dares to publish original voices and empowers authors. It deserves success.


How has social media helped you?

Facebook and Twitter are essential for an author, when you don’t have a huge publicity budget. You can build a readership, and engage with existing readers.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

From my first magazine editor Roy (can’t remember his surname), in 1988: ‘Tell such a strong story, in such an elegant style, that the reader doesn’t notice it’s written; they’re just caught up in the narrative.’


If you had a second chance at life would you still write books?

Yes, and I would start at a younger age.


Who are your favourite authors?

I love a lot of the greats: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens. I’d like to give special mention to two very underrated post-war British authors: David Lodge and David Nobbs, whom I’ve sought to emulate in combining humour and depth. Javier Marias is an astounding author, so is Donna Tartt and Louis de Bernieres.


If you were only allowed one book on your bookcase what would it be?

La Peste, by Albert Camus, still the finest novel I’ve ever read: poetic, beautiful, bleak in its description of the harshness of fate, yet heart-warming in its portrayal of human friendship, funny and astonishingly profound, philosophically and politically.




‘Marching on Together’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/marching-on-together/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marching-Together-P-J-Whiteley/dp/1911129333/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489606690&sr=1-1

‘Close of Play’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/close-of-play/

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Close-Play-Philip-Whiteley-ebook/dp/B01080YEAI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458070338&sr=1-1&keywords=close+of+play

Website – http://www.whiteleywords.com/

Blog – http://felipewh.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @Felipewh

Guest Post by PJ Whiteley

Philip Whiteley

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/


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