Today we speak to M Jonathan Lee.
Q) Tell us something about yourself.
I’m a 39 year old father of three who hails from a sleepy mining town in Yorkshire.
Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?
The Radio centres around the decline of the lovable, yet hapless George Poppleton, a middle-aged, henpecked father and husband who stumbles across an old transistor radio in his loft. His obsession with listening to the radio drives him on an unexpected journey, fuelled by the painful memories of the suicide of his only son many years before.
Readers will enjoy The Radio because it’s an observational story which everyone will be able to relate to and fuses black comedy with honest poignancy. It also has a huge twist, which most readers love.
Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?
This is very evident by the blurb!
Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?
A lot of the story, especially dealing with suicide is semi-autobiographical so sadly I have to an extent lived a lot of the ‘research’ in this book.
Q) Which of the Characters in your book are your favourites and why?
Great question – it would have to be George. Although I’m some thirty years younger, we do share a few traits. I am also extremely fond of Mollie. She is a close second to George and will develop in the second and third books in the trilogy.
Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?
George is based about 25% on me, which may allow you some sympathy for me, once you’ve read The Radio! The other 75% is a fusion of two of my friends fathers along with two fairly famous celebrities.
Q) Every Author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?
Ooh, that’s a difficult one. I would say that my writing is easy to read, with heavy reliance on observational minutiae that most people can relate to their own lives. My writing has been described as funny, moving and poignant.
Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?
I wrote The Radio in about nine months, however due to full time work, looking after three children and the rest of things life throws at you this time period stretched out to three years in total. I have always wanted to write and knew that The Radio would be cathartic which it proved to be.
Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you want to become an Author?
When I realised by ten that footballer (too small) and rock star (no musical talent) were out of the question, I started writing. I self published my first magazine aged 11 and sold over 800 copies over 6 editions.
Q) Who are some of the Authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?
I love Nick Hornby, Mark Haddon and Roald Dahl. Unexpected Tales is one of my favourite books as I love stories with a twist. Mark Haddon and Nick Hornby’s styles are similar to mine, I really try to connect with the reader. The Radio has had a number of comparisons to Rachel Joyce’s Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which I am honoured by.
Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?
I think the most difficult part is self-belief. I have numerous ideas stored up, it was simply getting them on paper. Once shortlisted for the Novel Prize 2012 I realised that others enjoyed my work and therefore has really given me the incentive to continue on.
Q) What is some advice you will like to give to people trying to write and get their stories published?
Treat writing as a job. Book time in your diary and whether you feel like writing or not when the time comes, sit down and get on with it. Even if you only manage a few sentences, stick with it. With reference to getting published, ensure your final submission is the very best that it can be. And that means edit after edit after edit.
Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.
I am currently working on The Page, a story of a tragic car accident and about how one seemingly random piece of paper can change everybody’s lives forever. And yes, it’s another story with a twist!
Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?
Hmm, another good one. I think it would have to be The Life of Pi by Yann Martell – a wonderful wonderful story which has to be read to be believed. Or otherwise.
Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?
George’s adventures will make your heart warm and then break within a matter of chapters. You will laugh until you cry. And then cry until you feel like you can’t anymore. You won’t see the twist coming. And then you’ll beg for the second part of the trilogy.
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