Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Q&A

So, as you've by now guessed, this month is dedicated to the writer Paul Magrs.There's a banner designed and a giveaway, this shouldn't be a surprise. Paul was more than generous with his time and willing to be submitted to my silly questions which I will post, along with his answers, every Sunday this month. To start us off, I figured some general questions about the life of a writer and his books was as good a place as any to start, so let's cede the blog to Paul!

 Question: I personally have this question asked about me a lot, but how do you find the time to do all you do? From writing and reading and reviewing and events, not to mention making sure Panda and Fester are happy, how do you do it all?

Answer: I think I developed a good relationship with time and its management from working and teaching in universities for all the years that I did. You get used to working on your own writing in the gaps and spaces of your days. That kind of training sticks with you! So, today, for example – as well as emails and a spot of writing practice and some contract and business stuff – I’ve worked on four different projects (two of them first draft and still top secret, with 1200 new words on each, and then in the afternoon – two more projects, both scripts, at a second draft stage.) It’s always a question of structured time management – and with that in place – you can spin off through time and space wherever you like. Usually.

Question: How important is having other writers as friends and part of your community to inspire and help out and commiserate with?

Answer: I’ve always had lots of writing friends, and I’ve been very lucky with that. I think it’s vital to have some kind of network of pals you can connect with. Not necessarily reading each other’s work and critiquing all the time – sometimes it’s just nice to know they’re out there, doing the same kind of thing. What’s great about lots of the writers I know is that they like to have a good, gossipy time when they actually manage to get out of the house and meet up – at festivals or writers’ retreats, or whatever. I’ve got some great friendships with people in the same world as the one I’m in.

*Paul pictured with fellow author George Mann

Question: You are that rare breed of author whose public readings not only connect the listener to your writing but also enhance subsequent readings of your books. Have you ever considered pulling a Neil Gaiman and doing your own audio books?

Answer: That’s very nice to hear, thank you! And, yes, I recorded my own unabridged audio for my 2010 YA novel, ‘The Diary of a Dr Who Addict.’ It was terrific fun to do and I learned a great deal from my producer while I was at the studios in Bath. We also got snowed in as all these blizzards in Jane Austen's town. It was just after New Years’ – and three of us were recording books that week in those studios – Nerys Hughes, Jacqueline Wilson and myself. We thought we were going to be snowed in for weeks!

Question: With many of your books having characters that jump from one book to the next, do you consider all your books as existing within the same universe?

Answer: Perhaps – or maybe universes that touch upon each other at oblique angles. A recurring motif throughout many of the books are the magic Pinking Shears that get passed along between characters such as Iris Wildthyme and Noel Coward. Whoever ends up with them generally causes chaos, cutting a swathe through the Very Fabric of Space and Time and stepping through…

I think it’s because I grew up loving Marvel and DC Comics that I ended up obsessed with the idea of crossovers and cameos and guest appearances. But I do like to make sure that each book is explicable on its own terms, with little or no prior knowledge of my many universes required…

Question: I was first made aware of you and your work by 666 Charing Cross Road, an obvious wink and nod to Helene Hanff and her book 64 Charing Cross Road. How much did Helene’s own writing affect how you handled the book?

Answer: I read all of her books in one go, a few years ago. I knew ’84 Charing Cross Road’ of old – both the book and the film – and I was delighted to follow her adventures further in these slim, erudite and irascible books. I loved her book about visiting London at last, and her book about rediscovering New York. I wish there was more of her in the world. I hope a little of her spirit and her tone went into the character of Eliza Bathory – the literary demon hunter – in my novel.


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