This week we welcome contemporary fiction author, Richard Gould to the blog. Hi Richard, welcome!
- Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
I live in Cambridge and work for a national educational charity. The job includes writing a considerable amount of fairly academic literature on social mobility and educating able young people, so I suppose my fiction – light and humorous – is my therapy or antidote or something. Though not uniquely so, the themes I cover are somewhat unusual for a male author, my starting point being a fascination with ordinary people trying to make the most of their lives.
- Where do you get the inspiration for your books and your ideas?
To date, the novels I’ve written have started with an idea sparked by an actual event which has set me off on a fictitious journey with fictitious characters. My inspiration comes from observing people, followed by a make believe delving deep into their lives and thoughts. Of course plot is essential, but for me the starting point is always character.
- On your Amazon page you describe your writing as ‘loosely romantic, but with an edge’. Tell us more about that.
I write about past, current and new relationships which sets the genre as Romantic. My use of the term ‘edge’ is based on two elements in what I write. Firstly, I like to include social commentary covering class, gender, culture and society. My favourite reader’s review includes: “the characters are recognisable in an East Enders meets F. Scott Fitzgerald sort of way.” Secondly, there is humour, often dark, running through my fiction. This covers some compulsive betrayals (in The Engagement Party), an attempted suicide (in Nothing Man) and even murder (in A Street Café Named Desire). Starry-eyed romance is there but not overtly so – many of my characters are middle aged and carry several cartloads of baggage.
I’m aware that the vast majority of both writers and readers of romance are female. One agent suggested I take on a female pseudonym, and using my initials ‘R.J.’ rather than ‘Richard’ is a cowardly compromise. My readers are by and large women and the feedback I receive is that they have enjoyed exploring the male take on romance. So perhaps the rarity is an advantage.
- Tell us how you found the RNA and how it has benefited you in your writing journey.
I’m a member of Cambridge Writers, a local writing group, and several participants were in the RNA before I joined. I signed up for the New Writers’ Scheme and got a tremendously encouraging review for A Street Café Named Desire. Having self-published with some success, this gave me the incentive to search for a publisher again (yes, I had tried in the past and we all know how tough that is) and Accent Press took me on. A member of the local chapter of RNA introduced me to the Society of Authors who were a great support in looking at the draft contract. RNA is a tremendous organisation for meeting other writers to discuss all sorts of issues.
- What is your favourite part about being a writer?
The wonderful feeling on a good day when the prose flows. I’m particularly pleased when something that’s intended to be humorous makes me smile when I read it, even though I know what’s about to happen because I’ve written it.
- Do you have any particular favourite characters from your books?
Maybe Jack, a rogue plumber in The Engagement Party. However, I really do like them all. I think it’s important to create characters, even the bit players, who you feel close to and care about.
- Are there any scenes you find particularly difficult to write?
Writing backstory in a predominantly humorous novel is a bit of a challenge, but in general it’s more about how creative I’m feeling on the day rather than difficulty writing any particular type of scene.
- How do you go about planning your latest novel?
At the outset I know the start and end points of a novel and some mid-story events that I want to include, but I don’t plan in detail ahead of starting to write. I let the characters grow as the plot develops and they can drive the story forward – a remarkable experience in one case when the protagonist was surprising me with his actions! The process isn’t quite as random as it sounds; before long I’m producing things like timeline grids to ensure consistency, and for me editing is an ongoing process rather than something tagged on at the end.
- And finally, what can we expect to see next from Richard Gould?
I’ve just submitted Nothing Man, which should be released by Accent Press by the end of 2015. It’s the story of a man with narrow horizons and low self-esteem. Various events push him to the point of contemplating suicide. He decides not to go through with it, but his post-no-suicide life doesn’t get off to a great start when he has a car crash on leaving the supermarket where he’s purchased his pills. Laura, the woman in the other car, turns out to be his inspiration for starting afresh, but it’s her mother who provides the romance in his life. The excitement of this relationship is coupled with membership then employment at Preserve Our Countryside Society and it turns out that he’s anything but a nothing man.
I’m at the first edit stage of Jack and Jill went Downhill, the story of two students who meet at the Freshers Big Party Night. It traces developments over the next fifteen years as the pair, initially amused by the coincidence of their names matching that of the nursery rhyme, fail to recognise that their lives are following the events of the rhyme with Jack falling down (from his high-powered job in the City) and Jill coming tumbling after (sacked for serious misconduct when teaching).
Thank you so much for being a guest on the blog today. We wish you every success with your novels!
Helen J Rolfe.
If you’d like to find out more about Richard and his books, please follow the links below…