Gary Davison Interview part one

Writing from Newcastle in the north of England, Gary Davison’s debut novel Fat Tuesday will be published by PaperBooks on 27th September.

Visualise the setting for this interview: a few drinks on the patio in his backyard on an English summer’s afternoon. (No matter that it really took place over the internet, and that it might be summer for Gary, but it’s cold and wet here on the Shipwreck Coast.)

Firstly, Gary, do you have a routine for writing and, if so, what is it? What are some of the things that tend to get in the way?

My writing routine used to be 9am to 11am, 5 days, religiously. That’s when I love writing and just about the only time I can write new stuff. Editing I can do at any time, but again I try to keep it to mornings. After writing I head into the office, which is about five minutes from my house or to site, which could be anywhere.

Having a meeting at work is what breaks my routine these days. If I can avoid it I will, but sometimes a meeting at 12 could take me three hours to get to, so I’ve got to get on the road early. I’ve recently bought a laptop (to go with the computer in the house and one at the office), in a bid to snatch more writing time as I’m only writing three times a week, which isn’t enough for me.

Writers come from such a diverse range of backgrounds, it’s always interesting to hear how they earn a crust… before the royalties start rolling in (and the Cayman Islands bank account needs to be opened!). Could you tell us something about the business you’re in and whether it connects with your life as a writer?

I earn a crust in construction. I own my own firm and we specialize in the installation of granite paving. We do commercial contracts, which include a lot of city centre work. At the moment we’re laying cobbles, setts, flags and kerbs in Leicester, Wakefield, Liverpool, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Middlesborough and Stockport. I say WE very loosely, as I haven’t laid a flag in my life. I’m hopeless with anything practical and would starve to death if I had to do a manual job for a living.

I have a quantity surveyor in the office and, depending on work load, 20+ men on site at any one time. I run things part time and the day-to-day stuff is controlled by the working-foreman on each job.

What I like about it? I work with some great blokes, real grafters that snarl if a seven-day week isn’t on and they’ve become good friends. Taking them on a night out, which I do every couple of months or so, is shortening my life expectancy a great deal I expect. I also enjoy the buzz of winning contracts, making money, spending money (which Karen doesn’t mind helping me out with), and generally being my own boss.

Writing and construction? So far no connection whatsoever. When I’m writing I’m away in a different world, conjuring up stories and characters, mixed with experiences I’ve had. I write in total silence when I’m doing new stuff, then in the afternoon I switch the mobile on and BANG! I’m into chaos. Although I claim not to, I think I love both sides of the mobile.

Perhaps you could describe how you first developed an interest in writing and whether there’s any particular reason why this interest might have developed? Did you have a burning ambition to be a novelist, for instance? If not, what has been an abiding ambition of yours?

I’ve always read a lot. And I mean A LOT! When Karen and I were backpacking we’d buy a huge bag of secondhand books and take them with us to some island and read them all, lying there chilled out. At home I’ll have one book in the toilet, one beside my bed and one in the car.

When we came back from America in the year 2000 I was smoking three cigarettes to every pint and both Karen and I thought it wasn’t doing me any good (that’s the mild version of the conversation). Anyway, right there, after New Year’s Eve, I gave up and decided to have a go writing stories. I sat down every day and wrote and wrote until I finished my first novel. Absolute crap, but I loved it and just carried on, book after book, each one getting less crap than the previous.

That was that. I just kept reading and writing and thoroughly enjoyed it. Escaping every morning from the rat race was pure bliss. Before this I’d never given writing a thought.

Ambitions now? Number 1 bestsellers worldwide, cult status, red carpet, enough ££££$$$$ to buy a villa in the south of France and still be enjoying it when I’m too old to see what I’m writing.


Read Part Two of the Gary Davison interview.

Fat Tuesday (PaperBooks, ISBN 978-1906231019) will be released 27th September, 2008. You can pre-order your copy at PaperBooks Online or Amazon. Gary blogs at

For the printed edition of this interview in TVFH magazine go here.


Mike French said...

Great interview Paul, looking forward to the next bit.

Coming Soon:

Win a signed copy of this book - and others from Paperbooks, in a Continue the Story Comp.

Anonymous said...

Yes, great interview.
So nice to hear about a writer's "day job." It's encouraging for those of us struggling to find time to write.

Jon said...

'One book in the toilet'. Good to read that great minds have similar habits, Gary - I find it the most restful and stimulating - intellectually - place to read. But can someone answer me a question: do women read in the toilet or is it entirely a male preserve? If so, is it one of the few places, outside the car, where we poor blokes have the chance to sit down? Is it the one place we are guaranteed some peace?

As Rufus said, it's good to read the detail of another writer's struggles to see his work published and, at last, achieve success. Enjoyed the interview, look forward to the sequel, and to more revelations.

Stella said...

Great job, Paul.

I envy Mr. Davison's ability to write for a specific period every day. I still haven't trained myself to do this and I think it would be useful.

Mike French said...

"Do women read in the toilet?"

Come on girls who's going to step up and answer Jon's question!

Anonymous said...

I'm not one for blowing the whistle but Closer, Now, The Ok, are in our toilet and they ain't mine!

Anonymous said...

Great interview Gary, can't wait for the next episode! You are a celeb in the constuction circut! Everyone in my office has as Fat Tuesday book mark in their diary and a copy of the latest press release.

Anonymous said...

Really good interview, you came across just as you really are, down to earth and tell it how it is. Will be logging on for the next chapter!

Jane Turley said...

Really John and Mike, what an uncouth question! There's three things a man should never ask a woman;

1. Her age.
2. Her weight.
3. Whether she reads in the loo.

Right, now that's settled I'm off to the loo with my.... duster.(It's amazing what you can reach when perched on the seat.)

Um..I'm curious to find out how that title "Fat Tuesday" came about...hope I'll find the answer in part two...