I’m a character writer. I take a very small part of my personality and stretch it in a certain direction. Give it a back story, build it up and let it go, wrapping a story around it and seeing what happens. I write the story straight off.
I have two white boards on the wall in my office at home and at work, and any ideas or moves in the plot I splash on those, just to get them out my head. Once the story is finished I put it down for a couple of weeks, then edit it until it’s readable. Then comes a little bit of research, another re-write or five. When I’m happy with it I put it away for as long as possible. A year is good, but six months would do. Basically until I’m into another story and can come back and view it objectively.
'I'd been frantically searching for something to smash the window with and was about to take the bouncers on at the front, when the fire exit to my right swung open. I tore through it, knocking the chef aside and sprinted towards them.'
Determined not to follow in his late father's footsteps, Spencer Hargreaves turns his back on a multi-million pound inheritance and takes off backpacking. Three months later, he makes Australia's Ten Most Wanted. Hiding out on the Gold Coast, amid the madness of Mardi Gras, Spencer and his friends experiment with everything they can get their hands on, leaving Spencer struggling to hold onto reality...
Were there any surprises for you in your approach to writing Fat Tuesday, or in how the story or the characters grew?
My writing got better and better as I wrote and re-wrote Fat Tuesday, until I eventually realized what the book was about. What I was trying to do. So yes, a lot of surprises, both in the writing but especially in the main character.
What's your favourite part of the story?
How about influences in your writing, Gary? Can you identify any in particular?
Early on I was influenced by a lot of writers and like everyone else went through the process of finding my own style. I’m influenced by any good writing. I don’t intentionally copy anyone, but I’m influenced less and less now. Charles Bukowski is one author I think had a lasting effect on me. I just loved his direct style and short fiction. I tend to write what I like to read and I like things going along at a decent clip.
If, like your character Spencer Hargreaves, you stood a chance of inheriting a few million pounds, how would you want it to change your life? What are some of the things you might do?
Don’t think money would change me at all. To be honest I love my life the way it is. I’m fortunate to have a lovely family and enjoy my writing, social life, sport; I pretty much juggle pleasures and chores quite well and I wouldn’t welcome anything that would change that.
What sort of direction do you anticipate taking with future novels, or with your writing generally?
Short fiction. 100 – 150 page novels. I love reading works this length and love writing like this. I think my writing would suit scripts so I think in the future I might have a go at that.
What’s your idea of a perfect weekend, Gary?
- Friday: Chinese takeaway, 500g bar of Galaxy, bottle of red wine, on the sofa with Karen watching House.
- Saturday morning: 18 holes of golf.
- Saturday afternoon: into town with Karen and Tara to the toy shop and for a bite to eat.
- Sunday: watching Newcastle United hammer Manchester United with my mates in a bar somewhere.
So, you’re into the soccer, and I know from earlier conversations that you follow the horses, boxing and possibly a few other sports besides, and that you like to keep fit. You also mentioned that you like travelling. To what extent, if any, do you find that your interests and experiences shape your writing or give it flavour?
Tricky one. Yeah, I’m into loads of stuff. At a glance you’d think I never slept, but I’m a fair-weather everything. One week it’s the horses and Karen and I are down the local track, the next it’s the casino, then I’m bang into golf for a while. Prime example: I’ve just joined a new golf club; two months ago I was up to twelve 3 minute rounds on the punch bag at the local boxing gym (ruptured elbow so that’s finished with now); this week I’m back at another gym where you can also swim and I’m back on doing light weights after an injection in my elbow. Running I do three times a week, about 10k each time. I run with my mother and this never changes (apart from injuries and hangovers).
Right, what was I on about? Flavour. Right. One thing I like, no love, is a bit of excitement. Screaming a horse home, holing a putt, watching Ricky Hatton win the title, Newcastle score a winner, you know, a real massive buzz. In my writing I’ve got to be heading towards this in the novel. It’s not necessarily the ending, just a moment, when IT happens. The character\characters cross that line, WHAM. The reader might not know it until the book is finished, but THAT moment I think adds the flavour and I think all my experiences and loves and passions help me find it when I’m writing. I think. Sort of. I hope this is all making bloody sense!
It is, Gary. It does.
Where would you most like to visit next on your travels – or live for a few months?
Back to Australia for the fourth time. Love everything about the place. If I didn’t have so much going on here – mates, family, business etc – I’d live there. Oh, and Karen has suggested the Munich Beer festival this year, so I’m definitely up for that.
Australia? Hmm. What excellent taste!
Finally, Gary, what advice would you offer an aspiring writer, in terms of both the process of writing and in terms of seeking a publisher?
Read and write. Nothing else can train or help you, in my opinion. Reading is the training, writing is match day. If you love doing it you’ll succeed. Simple as that. If you’re doing it because you like the idea of it or for money, well, you’re in the hands of lady luck. See, one book nearly on the shelves and I’m a god damn expert. Take no notice I’m just excited. Best of luck to everyone.
And best of luck to Gary with Fat Tuesday and the books that follow. 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 http://www.gary-davison.com/
For a chance to win a copy of Fat Tuesday, The Cry of the Justice Bird and The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore, enter the latest competition at The View From Here.