Gary is a novelist living in the northeast of England. His work, largely literary fiction, focuses on themes that touch us all — love, death, loss and aspiration — but always with an eye to finding an unusual angle or viewpoint. Quirky and highly readable, his writing aims to entertain first and foremost. If he can also offer a previously unfamiliar perspective or insight, all the better.
His first novel, If I Never, is published by Legend Press and is now available from all major bookstores.
If I Never centres on the growing love between two “social misfits”. Clearly “meant for each other” in a most unusual way, the world and those around them threaten to pull them apart… the two drawn into the complicated lives of friends, consumed by unfolding mysteries and dangers.
“[If I Never is] a book with a mind as well as a heart, and is all the better for it.” — Able Magazine.
“If I Never is a novel as dark as the late British afternoon in winter. As rich as blood sausage, and as satisfying as a full English breakfast.” — Gregg Farley, innovation consultant and author of Jack’s Notebook.
1. Gary, why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m 43 and live in the north-east of England. I have a love, naturally, of literature and anything that challenges me intellectually. Disabled since birth with a form of spinal muscular atrophy, I’ve always found life rich with experience — something to be embraced and, wherever possible, celebrated. My philosophy, if I have one, is based entirely on a rational, humanistic approach to the world I find myself inhabiting, and I am perpetually in search of the unexplored point of view.
2. At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your story.
I’ve always possessed a very rich internal landscape! For as long as I can remember, anyway. Before I could properly write, I could always lose myself in games and stories that I created myself. However, I suppose I first tried my hand at writing “proper stories” when I was about eight. I had a bash at a short story about a headless horseman. Typical boys’ stuff that I never, as far as I recall, completed. From then on I always dabbled but didn’t start writing seriously until I was about 20. That was when I wrote my first novel and, after many years of rejection, close calls, encouragement and hard work my novel If I Never was published in 2009.
3. Do you have a specific place or time that you write?
These days, yes. I write in my office/bedroom, looking out at the hills in the distance. I usually start writing at around 9 AM every weekday morning and finish my thousand words about an hour later. The rest of the day is then taken up with planning/researching future work, dealing with promotional bits and bobs, answering e-mails, proofing/editing and generally taking care of business.
4. Gary, tell me something about what you believe in and don’t believe in? Why?
I believe in hard work. That’s fundamental to who I am, I think. If I’m really honest, I have very little time for motivational mottos, gods, superstition or anything in the supernatural realm. I find transcendent beauty in the things — in all their variety — that we as human beings — in all our variety — create. When we commit to creating we really can and do achieve incredible things. With effort. That really does blow me away.
As to why… there are many answers to this but, keeping it simple, this is merely what works for me. It’s the way I am, the way I want to be.
5. Can you please tell us about your book ‘If I Never’ and why you wrote it?
At its heart, If I Never is a slightly strange love story about two people who are very much meant for each other (though in a most unusual way!) I wanted to explore how external forces impact on relationships — the way two people can be a perfect match and, yet, still be put under enough stress from the people around them that their relationship is threatened. I didn’t want to explore this in the usual way, though. For so long I’d been writing the way I’d been told I needed to write in order to achieve publication, but with this one I decided to really do it my way. I played with form and very deliberately broke many rules — and had a wonderful time in the process! And, as it turned out, the first publisher I sent it to signed me.
6. Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
I think I have more favourite books than favourite authors, these days. I’ve found that, over the years, the writers who have influenced me most are the ones who are more inclined to disappoint as the years roll by. I’m extremely fond of authors like John Irving, Garrison Keillor, Ken Kesey, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster — but I don’t by any means enjoy everything they write.
At the moment I’m reading Robertson Davies‘s The Cornish Trilogy.
7. Do you have any tips for authors regarding Twitter?
Twitter isn’t simply a broadcast medium. If you’re really intent on using it to promote what you do I would suggest that you be prepared to invest time in getting to know the people who follow you — as much as you can. It isn’t enough to just keep posting links to your book’s Amazon page etc, you have to interact, give something. If you aren’t prepared to make real friends, help as well as be helped, it really won’t do you that much good.
8. So what is next? Will we see another novel?
Absolutely! My second novel, Children of the Resolution, should hopefully be published later this year (it was delivered a couple of months ago.) I am also 140,000 words into what’s intended to be my third published work — As Morning Shows the Day. These two novels kind of sit together thematically and, whilst they have my usual dark humour, are in some ways quite different to If I Never. After that, I have what promises to be quite a dark novel planned — Out Of Season. Hoping to set that one in Whitby, which is only a short drive from where I live. A very atmospheric place. I’m especially looking forward to that one!