Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello Fiona, my name is Graeme. I go by the pen name of G H Neale. My wife calls me other things, some good, some not so. I am older than my teeth.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I am from Kent, a small county in the Untied Kingdom. It is a very beautiful place to live, everywhere smells of apples, hops and damp washing. I had the good fortune of being born a week before the death penalty was abolished. I studied hard at college, kept my nose clean, got my head down, got packed off to university and was finally released into the wider world with qualifications in Philosophy and History of Art, both entirely useful subjects.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am working on ‘Argonautica,’ my third novel, which is a travelogue of family cruising the Mediterranean written both as a paean and a pastiche of Apollonius. It explores art, politics and identity.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
From about three years old. I swiftly progressed from daubing colourful crayon glyphs on my mother’s wallpaper to the sophisticated medium of the ostrich quill. Once electricity had been invented I progressed tousing the computer. I am up to speed with this device, employing, more often than not, three fingers.
Language and the nature of it has always interested me. The ineffable qualities of it I explored with my first novel, ‘Archipelago’ It was rather well received. I was rather well pleased. A superlative review of it can be found here: https://booksist.net/literary-fiction-review-archipelago-a-problem-by-g-h-neale-ef79e952d127
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It may be true to say, that there is no starting point and no end to being a writer, rather like a guitarist, you are always discovering new chords and arpeggios.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Wine and long conversations with my child-minder. I realised then that I had a half-decent tale to tell.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Initially, the first novel was going to be called, ‘All things are A part” but I thought Archipelago was more expressive. Similarly the second, which is set in Madrid, had a working title of ‘Four Go Mad In Madrid’ but I was concerned the estate of Enid Blyton may take me to task. Hence I settled on, Arriba. I now seem to be headed in titling everything with ‘Ar’. The third novel, as mentioned is called Argonautica. Perhaps the fourth, Arachnid or Arithmetic. You can see where this is going,can’tyou?
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I am a meta-fictional author. This means I write books about people who write books, in a conceited, tower of babel kind of way. One which either leads to infantile regress or the attempts the summation and final zed of all and everything. This is fun to try but equally hard work.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Almost all the characters in my novels are based on real-life people that I have either met by acquaintance or love through friendship. I am often a little unkind but I am an author and authors are vampires.
Here is one of my best friends:
A heavily-set woman, an obvious Englishwoman, squashed piles of heavily-set, woolly sweatshirts, hoddies and joggers. She was bingo-winged. Her swollen timbers in a pear-wear, Rubenesque-buttocked way, generally more rotund at the lower half of her considerable frame than at her topper-most bodily aspect, held up a whole engaged column of a monumental formation. She picked up the bottoms of a blue track suit which said in an inside label: El Corte Inglés, Medio. She held them up to her three-quartered ‘peddle pusher’ jeans, which were four-fifths up her nine-tenths worth of ungulated calves, and stretched their elasticated girth for all that they were worth and decided, no, it would not encompass her bulky, hippopotamus hips, and elephantine-trunked, reared up posterior.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Yes, as much as possible. Google maps is a real boon though and this enables me to get to places that I could not afford to go. As mentioned, whilst I have been to Madrid many times, at home, I could check details for Arriba.
The first novel is set in Sevenoaks, Kent. I walked around it thousands of times, noting many points of interest and disinterest but it was all accurate.
After completing one of the important matters that she needed to attend to, she had strolled a mere three hundred and fifty feet down the High Street, past the Woolwich Building Society, the Plaxtol Bakery and Boots and, after turning into Bligh’s Court, she was waiting with her usual air of adventure in the reception area of ‘Tan and Float,’ number one specialists in high-pressuretanning and Jessica Nails.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I like to wish other people well apart from those who don’t wish other people well.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I really like Flann O’Brien, an unsung genius. Calvino, Beckett and Joyce of course. Modern writers such as Stephen Moran impress me greatly. His novel, ‘Server’, will transpire to be one of the great works of literature. I am sure of this.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My dog likes to offer her opinions from time-to-time. Actually, long walks are good for the thinking. I would encourage every author to get a dog or a Segway.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I proof-read professionally but have little opportunity to express my artistic ideas therewith. Even the great Philip Larkin had to be a librarian to pay the gas bill.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, quite a bit. The research aspect can be most revelatory. I order old newspapers to make sure the embedded cultural and historical referencesare correct.
Passing by the extravagant plastic floral displays in the reception area, Mr Williams wandered into the living room and looked gloomily at the jabbering television set displaying Marti Caine’s “talent galore” on New Faces.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
The main protagonist in Archipelago is an émigré from the Galapagos Islands. Penelope Cruz would seem to be ideal. Am I allowed to blush at this point?
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Do what you want to do. Do not chase the money god. True artists have no concern with money
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading a historical narrative of Granada. It is really quite brilliant.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes, ‘The Green Pirate’ I remember working out that abstract word, ‘because’. It was quite a moment for me.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I cry a lot more than I ought to and despair at more.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love to meet my grandfather again. The only memories I have are that he was a very kind man.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
It may surprise you to know, gymnastics.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I do not really watch the television with much interest. It is a jabbering thing in the corner to which I pay scant attention
Fiona: Favorite foods, colours, music?
None really; although I am colour blind, tone-deaf vegan
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Talk much more, a lot more.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would have several cups of tea, kiss my wife and children and have a go at a jigsaw.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“To the memory of Regan Lee Homeward who for upwards of half a century resided in this district. He was born in England, 2nd November 1964. Possessing a vigorous mind and a habit of untiring application. In disposition he was humble, kind and affectionate; and his life was marked with a high regard for the interests of religion and devoted piety to God. He died in the peaceful assurance of everlasting life. His sorrowing wife and three children gratefully record in their loving remembrances the many excellences which adorned his character. ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21.’”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I have a website: www.pmvideos.com. I am very garrulous on Twitter too. Come and say hello @ghneale.
Here is my Amazon author page: