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Archive for the tag “PJ Whiteley”

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.

 

 

Links

‘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/

 

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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/

 

Guest Post by PJ Whiteley

Philip Whiteley

Back in March I hosted a guest post by PJ Whiteley as part of my Urbane Publications blog event.  He is now back with another post.

 

A question of subject matter

Guest blog by PJ Whiteley

 

Do you have to care about the interests of your characters to enjoy the book?

The issue occurred to me on holiday last month as I read Simon Says, by Daniel Gothard (declaring an interest, we have the same publisher, Urbane). The two main characters, Simon and Sean, watch a movie together several times a week, and their banter is peppered with quotes from their favourite films, most of which I haven’t seen (I watch a fair few movies, but I have a peculiar taste). This might have irritated me, but it didn’t. I think the reason is that the character Sean was smart and engaging: cool but with a big heart. He was the main reason I enjoyed the book, and the dialogue between the two lads was sharp.

This was reassuring to me, as my own novels, which could vaguely be defined as romcoms like Simon Says, also feature grown adults, mostly men, who have keen, near-obsessive interests. They are sports fans, so a necessary discipline for me is to keep the fan-talk to a minimum, and develop the human drama. ‘Most sports fans are men; most novel-readers are women,’ I’m often warned.

My riposte is that where a romantic comedy only features relationships and career choices they can become a bit bland. I want to have clashing world-views, commitment to a cause, or the fierce loyalty of tribe. Sport appeals because of the strong emotions it generates, and the parallels with real life that it can generate.

Not everyone would agree; not everyone will like my books, but that’s fine. That’s true of all authors. If the story engages, it soon won’t matter whether the main character’s passion is cricket, potholing or theoretical physics. Thousands of people read the 1990s non-fiction book Longitude, about the tale of an 18th-century clockmaker John Harrison. The book-buying population hadn’t suddenly become fascinated by the engineering of chronometers in their early years; they were hooked by a classic fable of the underdog overcoming formidable obstacles. And who, of all those who watched Erin Brockovich, can cite details on the particular corporate conspiracy that she exposed, and the underlying science?

It doesn’t matter what the subject is, it matters that the lead character cares about it. That’s what we have to show, as authors.

 

About PJ Whiteley

PJ Whiteley is an author. His first novel, Close of Play, published by Urbane Publications April 2015, was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize. His second novel, Marching on Together will be published February 2017, also by Urbane.

 

Guest Post by PJ Whiteley

Philip Whiteley

PJ Whiteley is the author of ‘Close of Play’, which was published last year.  He has written a guest post for this event.

 

The same, or different?

By PJ Whiteley

March 2016

There are only seven stories. Or five. Or two. I’ve read various such theories. And it’s well established that we humans are wired to engage with certain dramas and be unperturbed by others. As readers we desire justice, resolution, we are intrigued by mystery, we want mutual lusts to be consummated. Any deeper issues that a writer may wish to introduce are best in supporting roles, and they get defined by a creative writing teacher as ‘themes’. The safest option for an author is to wear these philosophical discussions lightly, and write a romance, or a thriller, to an arc that does not depart too far from convention.

So the big question that confronts a new(ish) novelist like myself is: to what extent shall I write to a formula or genre, and to what extent shall I dare to be bold and create something a little different? With my first novel Close of Play, I was stuck on it for several years. I had created a promising situation, and some hopefully intriguing characters with distinctive insights into contemporary life, conveyed through personal reflection and dialogue. But the drama had little direction. I completed it when I realized that the reader would want a resolution of ‘will they/won’t they’; some big moments and some comic moments. I wasn’t selling out; I was learning the craft of story-telling.

Yet there is still a ‘but’ lurking. Do we really want every romantic comedy to have a fairly transparent secret that He has concealed from Her (or the other way around), to be revealed 40 pages from the end causing a break-up resolved when He (or She) is urged by the Best Friend to ‘Go Get Her/Him’, as prelude to the Big Kiss at the end in the airport lounge? Is it not more intriguing to have one situation resolved, while another thread comes loose? The reader wants to be taken by surprise sometimes, by plot or by a person; to have a character who is compellingly vivid and also unpredictable, like Boris in The Goldfinch, or Aoife in Instructions for a Heatwave, to take two examples from contemporary novels.

And for me, the ‘themes’ (a dreadfully thin and inadequate word) are not just a small part of the book. The most memorable reads for me have prompted me to think anew about the nature of truth-telling, relationships, and personal beliefs, or other ways in which an individual attempts to make sense of this unplanned thing that happens to us called life. The story propels the book; it isn’t the whole of it.

For my second novel Marching on Together, I’ve dared to create a story with six principal characters, and charted a course without an obvious ending. But just as I wasn’t selling out when I nudged Close of Play towards romcom territory, I’m not abandoning the reader or respect for a strong narrative with Marching on Together. I am seeking to create some captivating dramas, genuine romance and heartfelt moments. I think you will care for Yvonne, and urge her to be less harsh on herself; I think you’ll be wanting things to work out for Johnny. I hope you’ll like Terry, an artist and a real one-off.

As for the story, you probably won’t be able to see where it’s headed. But that’s good, isn’t it?

 

PJ Whiteley’s first novel, Close of Play, was published by Urbane Publications in April 2015. It was shortlisted for the People’s Book Prize in summer 2015. Marching on Together, also by Urbane Publications, is due March 2017.

 

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Close of Play

Competition

Matthew Smith is kindly giving away three copies of ‘Close of Play’.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what your favourite genres are.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 3rd April 2016.

The winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.

 

Good luck!

 

Guest Post by PJ Whiteley + Competition

Close of Play

‘Close of Play’ is PJ Whiteley’s first novel.  Below is an interesting guest post from the author.

 

Men don’t ‘do’ romantic drama. Or do we?

Recently, I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. As expected, there are rather more women than men. I thought that the ratio might be 85-15 or 90-10. In fact, it’s more like 99-1, and a few of the male card-carrying members use female pseudonyms. There is a similar story in the readership profile. The extent to which the cover and other aspects of marketing of my first novel Close of Play, a romantic comedy, have been tilted towards the expected female audience has been a fascinating learning experience, as my publisher applies the finishing touches.

If you read the mini-biographies on the Romantic Novelists Association’s site, many relate how they grew up as bookworms, typically devoted to fantasy tales and romantic melodrama. My CV is very different. I didn’t read Jane Austen or Jean Plaidy as a boy. I played sport, read about sport, made Airfix kits and watched war movies. The books I enjoyed usually had a male lead figure and a fair amount of sport or danger. So it was a long and very indirect route by which I came to pen a romantic novel in my early 50s. My childhood influences can hardly have had any impact at all.

Or so it would seem. But if one uses an expanded definition of romantic drama, my early years were filled with the most heart-rending, achingly emotional tales, often rendered by alpha males. Their names included Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. There were a lot of tears and much insecurity; probably more direct soul-baring than any female scribe would dare, until Alanis Morrissette came along. Above all, these and other singers expressed an intense longing; this desire really to know a woman as well as love her.

So what is it about songs that gives blokes permission to get in touch with our inner feelings (or any other feelings, for that matter)? And why do we struggle when it’s on the printed page or at the pictures?

I’m afraid I can’t provide definitive answers, only a few observations. There is something about the ‘will they/won’t they’ drama that struggles to hold the male attention as the main or sole story arc; especially in a movie featuring Kate Hudson or Reese Witherspoon because, of course, we know they will in the end, after a break-up 20 minutes from full time as she discovers the secret that he had kept hidden (I still enjoy them, mind – guilty pleasure).

Humour helps. I might not have struggled with Far From the Madding Crowd at O-Level if Gabriel Oak hadn’t been so dour and earnest. Or a bit of political intrigue or philosophical depth. Or at least a car chase. Somehow, the question: ‘Is he The One for me?’ is not enough to hold our interest for 90 minutes or 288 pages. But for three and a half minutes, with a soaring chorus, and a macho guitar solo to come, we can give our passion a full-throated roar. We do have a romantic heartbeat, but it’s detected in different ways.

Close of Play has many ‘romcom’ features. I make no apology. It has a slightly different slant in that it’s from the man’s point of view. The two main male characters have been a bit sniffy towards love n romance n girly stuff in their early adult years. They prefer playing cricket and drinking beer. But each of them aches for the woman they really, really want, and fear that it might all be too late. I hope the female readers will be touched by their longing and forgive them their mistakes. And maybe, just maybe, the occasional bloke will read it, disguised inside GQ magazine, as he listens to Blood on the Tracks via his headphones.

PJ Whiteley, March 2015.

 

About PJ Whiteley

Author

PJ Whiteley, who writes non-fiction as Philip Whiteley, is an experienced author, principally about management. He has written extensively about how low wages are bad for business, as part of a bid to try to convince economists that society consists of people. Taking a break from this Quixotic task, he has turned his hand to romantic comedy, seizing on the potential of men preferring to play or watch sport than talk about their feelings and stuff.

Close of Play is the first novel, centring on perennial themes of the human condition: love, loss, hope, life choices and that nagging feeling in the back of the mind that you may not fully be up to date with how your team is doing.

PJ Whiteley’s boyhood ambition was to represent Yorkshire Cricket Club. He gave up playing as an amateur a few years ago when facing the quicker bowlers became a bit too tricky, but still plays five-a-side football. He works from home full time as an author and is married to a sex therapist, so things could have turned out worse.

 

Competition

To celebrate the publication of ‘Close of Play’ I am running a competition in which 10 lucky people will win a paperback copy of this book.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you think is romantic.

 

Terms and Conditions 

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th April 2015.

The winners will be randomly picked and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Urbane Publications Limited who will send out the prizes.

 

Good luck! 🙂

 

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