Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I studied creative writing at Middlesex University in London, and since graduating in 2006, I have worked as a writer and editor for various publications. I published my first book, the satirical novella “FAKE NEWS: Strange historical facts reimagined in the world of Donald Trump”, in October 2017, and I am currently completing the final edit of my first full-length novel, a satire about hipsters.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Last summer, my wife and I went travelling in China, and reading about British colonialism while we were there gave me the idea for “Fake News”. I contemplated how decisions that were deemed reasonable in the past are considered appalling and totally unacceptable today. And I thought that writing a satire in which current world leaders take outrageous decisions that are based on “reasonable” actions from the past would be a great way to convey the magnitude of terrible events that happened so long ago it can be difficult to really emotionally connect with them. As I developed that initial idea, I decided that by focusing on offbeat and amusing historical events instead of serious ones, I could turn this into a satire about Donald Trump.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Years ago as a freelancer, I used to sometimes stick to a 9-to-6 routine – but starting at 9 in the evening and finishing at 6 in the morning… But now I just try to fit in an hour of writing before I go to work, maybe a few hours afterwards and then the bulk of it at the weekend.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Michael Chabon’s writing greatly influenced me – I remember reading “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” and “Wonder Boys” and thinking that’s how I wanted to write. The same goes for Edith Wharton, whose style I tried to imitate when I was younger.
What are you working on now?
As well as finishing editing my hipster novel, in which dog walker Archie Fairfield is let off the leash in Dalston, I am writing another politics-related satire.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have only just started promoting “Fake News”, so I’m not sure yet.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
With regard to the writing process, I think it’s important to be ruthless when editing your own work and not hang on to passages just because you’ve written them and are fond of them for one reason or another – if they are not absolutely essential to the narrative, delete them, even if it means losing thousands of words. When it comes to promoting your book, a strong social-media presence is essential.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Show, don’t tell.
What are you reading now?
“The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I will keep writing satires and humorous novels – I’ve got enough material to keep myself busy for a few years.
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?
I’d take “Wonder Boys” by Michael Chabon, “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey and – since I’m very much into music from the 60s – Barney Hoskyns’ “Hotel California” about the music scene in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon.