In this series of interviews with Night Publishing authors, Richard Rhys Jones – better known as Reggie – is the first male author I’d like to introduce to you. Reggie’s work, both his poems and his prose, have a flowing cadenza to it that melts into you like whiskey fudge on your tongue. Embedding mostly heavy subjects about the human condition, such as war and evolution, in a surreal setting, Reggie’s great literary qualities and thoroughly researched work is going to be a jewel on NP’s crown. His debut Devision is scheduled to be published later this year. I’ll keep you posted about it here on my blog.
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
I live in a small village, (450 souls) called Drütte, in Niedersachsen, Germany. I originally hail from Colwyn Bay, a “one-time-yet-no-more” holiday resort smack bang in the centre of the North Walien coast, but left there to join the army and kill people aged 16. I achieved the first part but luckily escaped having to perform the second.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I LOVE Indian food, LOVE IT! I’m also a fan of Mexican and Balkan cooking as well. Before the kids destroyed our cosy little world, Mrs. Jones and I used to cook together quite a lot. However, those days are long gone and now I eat what’s put in front of me; normally leftovers as I work shifts, (all hail the Great God Microwave!)
Therefore, food does not hold a major place in my big scheme of things anymore. Actually I can quite happily live on cheese on toast for days on end… and often do.
Going one further, I’m very intolerant of my mates talking about recipes when we go out drinking. I’m pretty sure my Dad didn’t talk cookery in the pub with his mates and I expect my compatriots to live by this code as well. I mean, one minute we’re discussing the finer points of an Iron Maiden guitar solo, the next it’s did you see this or that dish in the new Jamie Oliver cookbook? Has the world gone mad? There should be a law that states that recipes are for Mother’s Union, the pub is for sports and music.
And don’t get me started on Mr. Oliver, either… grrr…
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other hobbies?
I’m a great armchair sportsman. No seriously, boxing, football, rugby, I do them all. However, the only sport I actually partake in is a cycle ride to work now and then, when the mood takes me.
As for hobbies, I write, (or attempt to) and I play the drums in a hardcore band. It’s nothing serious, we meet once a week, play the set, argue about songs, drink beer and have a laugh. The other guys are all dads who work shifts as well so we know our limit.
I write lyrics for a Thrash Metal band called Gods Will Be Done. Their CD, The Book of Blood is out on Stargazer records and is an oblique reference to the Book of Blood in, “Division” actually. It’s all so creatively incestuous in my little clique of artistic friends, isn’t it?
Do you have kids/grandkids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
I have two children, Daniel and Chelsea who are both fourteen. Chelsea dances ballet and is very good so everyone tells me. I can’t really tell, as every time I’ve seen her perform it’s been through a glistening veil of sentimentally proud tears.
My son, Dan the Man is a keen angler. He really loves it and passed his fishing test last year with 100%. If only schoolwork went that well…
Sadly, neither of them love Liverpool FC or Death Metal, which leaves me wondering what went wrong?
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
I love travelling but because I live in Germany, our holidays are mostly taken up by the Costa del Colwyn Bay. I don’t really mind but Mrs. Jones is pining for Greece, Egypt or Latin America and all I can offer is Rhyl’s shabbier neighbour. Sorry babes.
Do you have another job apart from writing? For how many hours? How do you feel about the ‘other’ job?
I work shifts in a steel works. The shift system, seven days work, two days off, is dire but they pay well and my workmates are all good guys. Obviously there are times when I’ll have worked too many hours in the month so I’ll have extra free days; but seven on, two off is awful and there’s no getting away from it.
However, the reality check is that writing isn’t paying off my considerable bills, so I’ll just have to grin and bear it. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it.
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?
Because I wrote a lot anyway, nobody really batted an eyelid when I told them I’d written a book. Obviously now, because Night are publishing my manuscript it’s moved up a gear but, quite flatteringly, nobody has said anything along the lines of, “Good grief, they want to PUBLISH??”, which makes me feel like a terrible impostor, actually.
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
I’m a very social person. I actually like people and try my best to stay in contact with everyone, which as you can imagine is very hard. I don’t go out much, not because I don’t want to, au contraire, I love going out. It’s just family, work and a thousand and one other things, (including writing) have colluded against me on this and I never have the time.
That’s why I love Facebook. I’m in contact with friends from school, (some of whom I haven’t seen since 1983), from the regiment and old places of work and all from the comfort of my snug little desk.
But I much prefer going out though. L
Which character trait do you like best about yourself and why? Which trait would you rather do without?
I’m a very open person and have no problem going to a party, say, and not knowing anyone. By the end of the night I’ll either know them all or they’ll know of me J
I am true to myself and I like to think that with me, what you see is what you get. If you don’t like that, it’s your problem not mine. However, because I like everyone and always try to think the best of people straight away, I’m afraid I end up being either disappointed, or hurt even all too often. I wish I was a tad more careful, mistrustful even but it’ll never happen, I’m too much of a sunshine person.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
I always write at my desk. I’ve tried outside with my laptop, on the bed, on holiday in Spain even. However the desk is my domain. In front of me is just the wall with a few pictures on but to my right is a large window/door affair that looks out over our garden and the fields beyond. It really is a nice view.
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
No, nothing. When I get the time to write, I immerse myself in the characters totally. Sounds very arty I know, but it’s how I get into their minds. A glass of water and that’s me.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
I’ve written a few short stories and they’ve nearly all dealt with the horror genre. A short story I wrote called The Ides of March was about Caesar being a vampire, it was even published by a website, my first ever publishing success, (by success I mean having something published).
I also had a 10,000 word novelette published by a short story magazine about the Three Hundred Spartans being vampires and how Xerxes, the greatest vampire slayer of all time destroys them. I researched the background, used real names, events, equipment, timelines and moulded them into my story. Both stories can be read on my Blog if it takes anyone’s fancy.
I suppose I like Horror but with a researched historical edge to it.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel?
“Division” is my first book and it’s yet to be released.
How do I feel about it? Oh, all the usual clichés, elation, pride, relief… I’ll tell you more when it’s out
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?)
Well, The Division of the Damned is a sort of Adventure/Horror story. I had the book brewing in me for ages, just gathering ideas like ticks on a cat. When I first arrived in Germany with my regiment we paid a visit to Dachau. Whilst there, among the buildings and watchtowers, I experienced a sort of wake up call about human nature. I simply could not accept that all German people were evil so there had to be a reason behind what happened, and so began my interest in the Third Reich.
I also loved the vampire theme. Vampires and the Third Reich, but I needed a bridge for them to have, in my eyes, integrity.
When a workmate mentioned he was from Transylvania and that there’s a large German population there, I nearly soiled my Y-fronts in joy. It was like a gift from God/Shiva/Buddha/Woden (cross out appropriately) and that night I spent hours in front of Google, researching the whole thing. The rest is history or soon will be when it’s published.
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
I like to write after late shift. I’m very much a night person and I’ll come home from shift around ten thirty, switch on the computer and write. The wife and kids are in bed so there’s no noise in the house, no distractions. It’s just me, the computer and my story. I look forward to late shifts nowadays.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
Hank Moody from Californication?
No, seriously, I don’t know. I have my favourite writers but whether they’ve influenced me all that much is a different thing. Does that sound arrogant?
I hope not, it’s just that there has never been a writer that I’ve read that’s made me say to myself, “Yes, that’s it, that’s how I want to write”.
However, I could put down that I’d like to be as accurate in my background as Michael Crichton. That I would hope my characters are as interesting as John Lescraort’s are and that my stories meander with the same fluidity as a Ken Follet book.
Is that good enough?
What does Night Publishing mean to you?
Night really has made a difference to how I see myself, as daft as that may sound. Every writer wants to be published and I’m no different. After the apocalyptic rejection phase, where my hopes went from, “the sky’s the limit” to “bring out your dead”, I was convinced that “Division” would be consigned to the dark, forbidden depths of my hard drive.
Then along comes the Poll and in the space of a week my manuscript went from basement to master bedroom and it packed my self esteem with it.
Night is also a great website to visit. The people on the website I’m in contact with are all genuinely nice, friendly and helpful. They are as I would hope any group of authors would be.
There is no spiteful competition, hurtful feedback, sniping from the sidelines or shallow flattery for that matter. It’s just good, supportive banter under the benevolent cloak of Mr. Tim Roux.
I’m glad I’m there.
I’d like to add that I’m only at Night because Teresa Geering wrestled me into a headlock and rubbed my scalp until I “gave” and put something up. So, for the record, thanks Tee, love ya babe. X
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
No, here in Germany, working shifts, complaining about my kids, my work and the set list for the next gig… and dreaming up characters and plots for the next novel
Final fun question. If you had to choose: are you a Houdini or an Edison? This is for the official NP tally. J
Edison was a genius but…
… well read Nikola Tesla’s obituary for Edison if you want an explanation for the, “but” there, lol.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS GREAT INTERVIEW, RAGS!!
Want to read more about the imminent… uh…eminent Richard Rhys Jones?