Interview with Pfoxmoor Publishing author John Booth
One of the most interesting Indie publishers today is Diana Nelson’s Pfoxmoor Publishing, specialising in Young Adult romance, fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, contemporary and cross-over fiction. http://www.pfoxmoorpublishing.com
And one of Pfoxmoor’s honed authors is John Booth. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that mentioning John’s name in our circles of writer pals never fails to bring that lopsided smile to our faces: John is like our pater familias, the veteran friend, amiable, courteous, emphatic but above all so, so FUNNY. I simply have to read what John replies to FB posts. His witticisms make my day.
John is also an excellent writer. His YA fantasy Wizards is a real pageturner and not just for youngsters. His mystery series about Inspector Monde also hook your attention straight away. I think John’s greatest asset his is story-telling capacity, he doesn’t do too many ‘frilly things’ on the level of form. John is all about content. He has a story in his head and that’s what he’s going to tell you. And he loves his craft, so much is clear. I hope we will be able to read many more John Booth books in future!
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I live in Reading, England for the last 36 years. Reading is in the South of England where you can live next to someone for 25 years and never find out their names. Up until the age of 21, I lived in Sheffield in the North of England, a place where all the
people in the street one down will know how many times you had sex that week.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I have a fondness for foods that are bad news for my waistline. I love chocolate and cakes. I can cook in a limited manner, as my wife is a brilliant cook. My special fried rice is brilliant. I was taught to cook it by a Thai friend when I was at university.
Lee was a wonderful guy.
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other
What is this word ‘sport’? I get exhausted watching others play sport. Walking in the woods or by the sea is the only exercise I would do by choice. My main hobby is trying to keep the house and cars in one piece, and feeding the cats. I have no choice on the last item. I know my place.
Do you have kids/grandkids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
My children are all grown up. One day I hope to join them in a state of adulthood, but it’s always great to see the kids do things you can’t. I have two daughters and a grandson who is 18 months old. He spends the day with us once a week where he negotiates with me over watching nursery rhymes on Youtube.
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
We don’t travel much. Rosie is an injecting diabetic and she is terrified of overzealous flight attendants taking her insulin away from her. 9/11 has had all sorts of unexpected consequences.
Do you have another job apart from writing? For how many hours? How do you feel
about the ‘other’ job?
Up until a year ago, I was in full time employment as a consultant engineer, which had been my job for over 35 years. I did my writing in the evenings after coming home from work. Now I have my own company to do consulting, but it has proved difficult to get off the ground due to the economic climate.
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer? Have their opinions changed since you became a published author? Which remark from your surroundings has stuck most with you?
Surprise, acceptance, and sometimes bemusement. I think many believe that all authors are rich as that’s the type they hear about on the news. ‘Jo Rowling worth half a billion’ sort of thing. Then you try and explain to them that writing rarely pays the rent and they become less interested.
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and
spending time away from the writing desk?
I have no social life to speak of. We have always been a nuclear family. I suspect we even glow in the dark.
Which character trait do you like best about yourself and why? Which trait would you
rather do without?
In these kinds of questions, the one answer is always the dark side of the other. I can be very successful in anything I set my mind too, and I often can’t be bothered to set my mind on anything.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
I work in a small room with a computer that faces a high wall to wall window. Net curtains prevent me seeing out and the angle means that unless I stand up there is nothing but sky to see. This suits me fine, though if the window is open the screech of tires on the road often gets me standing up.
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage,
cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
Nope, I work best in silence or natural sounds – birds, wind.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
I write fantasy. Within that broad brush stroke I write, Horror (with ghosts and ghouls), Sword and Sorcery, Magical Realism (a phrase I learnt the other day), Contemporary Fantasy and Historic Fantasy. I write for adults, Young Adults, Middle Grade and Children. It must be admitted that I often can’t decide which one I’ve written for when I finish a novel. I think all my stories are crossovers in which the protagonists are often kids or young adults.
My short stories were published in a number of anthologies in 2010 and in October 2010 I published Wizards through Pfoxmoor.
Since then we have published a number of short stories about a character called Inspector Monde, and we published the anthology of those stories in July 2011.
I have other novels coming out soon with Pfoxmoor. Holding a copy of your first book in your hands is one of the greatest feelings you will ever have.
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea, how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
Wizards was written over a period of six weeks in 2009. I didn’t think of it as a novel, I wrote it as a collection of short stories that ended up getting longer and longer as they progressed. I’d just finished a massive novel (my longest and most complicated ever) and I wrote Wizards for pure pleasure, to play with ideas and have fun. The basic idea was about power and corruption. If you have nearly infinite power can you remain true to yourself and not become corrupt? What would a guy who managed that act like? Who would he be? Thus Jake Morrissey was created. Eighteen years old, capable of hopping between worlds and possibly doing anything, but he can’t bothered, preferring to live with his parents and do odd jobs at the local timber merchants.
Being a writer, I stimulated him to see what he would do. When he gets an upmarket girlfriend by rescuing her from a psychopath, his world changes. Suddenly he has to compete with her well off friends. One thing leads to another and his cosy world is torn apart, piece by piece.
Wizards finished when I answered one of those initial questions. When I edited it on Facebook in 2010, Diane Nelson wanted to publish it. It seems to me that when a publisher comes to you and says they want to publish your book, then it’s time to let it happen.
A sequel was inevitable and I wrote that at the beginning of 2011. It will be published later this year.
I’m very happy with Wizards. It has sold well and most people get it. I believe the sequel is better as it a ‘single story’ rather than a series of connected incidents. I had a lot of fun writing these books and I suspect that rubs off onto your readers. I could easily write another five or six books about Jake and his world.
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
Every day, I edit or write a chapter (I have a lot of books that need better editing). My word count is between 1500 and 3500 words a day.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
I write what I read. Diana Wynne Jones is my favourite author. I started reading her books in the 1970’s. I used to read a lot of Science Fiction and I’m not really sure why I don’t choose to write it. But the joy of fantasy and SF has stayed with me all my life. I learnt to read using Comic Books.
Who is your agent and/or publishing company? What do they mean to you?
Diane Nelson runs Pfoxmoor and without her help, inspiration and encouragement you wouldn’t be able to read any of my books. Her work rate and talent is a continual inspiration and I have had contracts with Night Publishing and get on well with Tim Roux.
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
I’d like to get at least twenty novels out there. I have two out and seven more under contract right now. It would be nice to be able to live off the proceeds of their sales, but that still looks very unlikely.
THANK YOU SO MUCH, John!!
Want to get in touch with John or purchase his books:
Website is http://johnbooth.weebly.com/index.html
Twitter name is J0hnB00th
Link to Wizards on amazon US is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004C44GN2
Link to Monde on Amazon US is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053TSUSC