Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
This is my first book – for the past twenty years I’ve been playing music with my band MJ Hibbett & The Validators, this felt like a way to continue showing off without having to go out quite so much!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
It’s called ‘Storm House’ and was inspired by going to the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. Sir John Soanes was the architect who designed the Bank Of England as well as an avid collector of art and historical curiousities. When he died his will requested that his home be left exactly as it was and opened as a museum, which it has been for 180 years. It’s a mad place packed with a bewildering variety of objects which I love to visit, and the last time I went I wondered if there might be something else behind it. That’s where Sir Hugo Storm came from, and his House Of Unusual Interests!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I keep reading about other people’s rituals and demands that things have to be just so, but I tend to write whenever I get the chance. I’ve found that writing a book, from a distance, looks a little bit like writing a report for work, so a lot of ‘Storm House’ was written at my previous job, in between databases breaking.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I’ve always loved the Nigel Molesworth books by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle, and though my spelling is (hopefully) better than Nigel’s, the spirit of bemused anarchy has inspired me in life and indeed in art. They are brilliant, also hilarious!
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished the third draft of the outline to ‘The Utopians’, which is the follow-up to ‘Storm House’. I start writing it in full next week, and I can’t wait.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
The best way seems to be to make it free, then go all in to try and get as many people you know to download it. I did this when ‘Storm House’ came out and got a couple of hundred people to download it, which pushed it right up the Amazon charts, where loads more people saw it and downloaded it, which pushed it even higher… and so on.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
As one myself I don’t think I’m qualified to do so. When I asked my friend Charlie Flowers (author of the “Riz” thriller series) for some advice he told me “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”. He was right!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Over twenty years ago I went to see John Otway for the first time, and was surprised to see him sitting in the pub attached to the venue. I asked him why he wasn’t sitting backstage and he said “If I sit backstage I just have a beer on my own. If I come out to the front people buy me drinks and tell me I’m brilliant.” I have thus spent two decades doing exactly the same thing whenever I play my own gigs – it’s extremely good advice!
What are you reading now?
I’m halfway through a history of the Cold War, which I’m having to read as research for my PhD about the Marvel Comics character Doctor Doom. I have a vague idea that Doom might be a super-villain version of General Tito.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Apart from the sequel to ‘Storm House’ I’m also trying my hand at short stories, which is a lot of fun. I’ve written songs for years, so I’m used to trying to tell stories very quickly, but the nice thing about prose is that it doesn’t have to rhyme.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
‘The Compleet Molesworth’ by Willans and Searle, ‘The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams (it’s been far too long since I last re-read it), ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen and ‘Watchmen’ by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. That should keep me going!