Category Archives: Author Interviews
Something doesn’t add up about Archie and Pye…
After a disastrous day at work, disillusioned junior PR executive Tom Winscombe finds himself sharing a train carriage and a dodgy Merlot with George Burgess, biographer of the Vavasor twins, mathematicians Archimedes and Pythagoras, who both died in curious circumstances a decade ago.
Burgess himself will die tonight in an equally odd manner, leaving Tom with a locked case and a lot of unanswered questions.
Join Tom and a cast of disreputable and downright dangerous characters in this witty thriller set in a murky world of murder, mystery and complex equations, involving internet conspiracy theorists, hedge fund managers, the Belarusian mafia and a cat called μ.
Jonathan Pinnock is the author of the novel Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens (Proxima, 2011), the short story collections Dot Dash (Salt, 2012) and Dip Flash (Cultured Llama, 2018), the bio-historico-musicological-memoir thing Take It Cool (Two Ravens Press, 2014) and the poetry collection Love and Loss and Other Important Stuff (Silhouette Press, 2017). He was born in Bedford and studied Mathematics at Clare College, Cambridge, before going on to pursue a moderately successful career in software development. He also has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. He is married with two slightly grown-up children and now lives in Somerset, where he should have moved to a long time ago.
(Incidentally I first met Jon on a writing forum Slingink and am happy to have kept in contact to see his success now).
What came first, character or plot?
Probably character. My plots tend to be pretty sketchy at first until I find out what’s going on, and it’s definitely the characters – and, specifically, the way they interact – that drives the development of the book.
Who is Tom Winscombe and how is he placed to handle the mystery he is landed with?
Tom Winscombe is a junior PR executive who has lost his way in life, to the point where at the start of the book, he has just set in train a sequence of events that will wreck his career, leaving him with plenty of time on his hands. He is, in pretty much every respect, very badly placed to handle the mystery he is landed with. However, he does have three things on his side at the start: 1) a suitcase containing the clue that will solve the mystery (once he manages to open it), 2) an ability to stumble on solutions to problems without really intending to (although he does also have a habit of creating problems that didn’t previously exist) and 3) a good heart. You can probably think of him as a less furry Paddington.
Why a mathematical mystery?
Good question. It was originally going to be a literary mystery, but I realised that I didn’t really know a lot about literature although I did know quite a bit about maths. So it became a mathematical mystery. Also, there aren’t a lot of those about, which is always good.
Who are Archie and Pye?
Archie and Pye are the Vavasor twins, mathematicians who both died in mysterious circumstances ten years prior to the opening of the book, giving rise to a whole swathe of conspiracy theories as to what actually happened between them.
What does Vavasarology mean to you?
You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? You’ll have to read the book to find out… (Sorry)
I wonder if anyone here got close?
Here was mine:
What are your top 3 editing tips?
Top 3 editing tips: 1) Listen to your editor – mine (Abbie Headon of Farrago) was absolutely brilliant at pinpointing all those bits that I knew deep down weren’t any good, but hadn’t admitted as much to myself yet. 2) If in doubt, cut. 3) And then cut again.
I really enjoyed Mrs Darcy Versus the Aliens and suspect Jon’s wit and humour will shine through again in The Truth About Archie and Pye. If you are a fan of maths, mystery or mirth pick up a copy.
In order to celebrate the release of Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham, Walker have organised a blog swap. Throughout August a number of bloggers are hosting guest posts from our peers. Something to give us an insight into an issue we might not otherwise have come across. To step into their mind and empathise. I encourage you to visit other posts across the month to expand your experience.
Today I’m hosting Alba with her post on Acts of Kindness. You can read more from Alba on her blog Alba in Bookland here.
Acts of Kindness
One thing I love about the football World Cup is how it manages to bring people from all over the world together. Last month, we decided to organize an office pool in which you would select several teams and earn points every time one of your teams would score or win a match. Quite simple. But then in the middle of it, a colleague had a brilliant idea: let’s also collect acts of kindness.
So every day, we would check the news all over the world to find those little acts. It was amazing to see how this world event had affected the daily life of so many people, all from different nationalities and backgrounds and brought them a little happiness.
We even started printing our favorites and putting them in our office board, so everyone could read them. They definitely sparked more than one smile and even a few tears between our colleagues. So today I decided to share with you three of these acts of kindness:
1) How a deafblind fan is enjoying the World Cup thanks to his friends. Here is the video, if you haven’t seen it: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-44657259/icymi-how-a-deafblind-fan-is-enjoying-the-world-cup
I actually studied sign language in university and met such vibrant and active people in the deaf and deaf blind community. We used to have weekend excursions to different places in Barcelona and it was always such a especial moment to be able to sign for the deaf blind so they could experience new places too. So this video definitely brought a lot of nice memories back. I should start volunteering again.
2) Mexican and Colombian supporters lift Egyptian fan in wheelchair so he can see screen in fanzone. Here is the photo, if you haven’t seen it: https://www.thesun.co.uk/world-cup-2018/6553124/world-cup-mexico-colombian-egypt-disabled-fan/
3) Japan and Senegal fans help to clean up World Cup stadiums. Here are the photos, if you haven’t seen them: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/20/sport/senegal-world-cup-stadium-clean-up-spt-intl/index.html
And a special mention to the fans that created the pride flag with football shirts to let Russian LGBT community know ‘they’re not alone’ (https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/worldcup/world-cup-2018-activists-in-moscow-create-pride-flag-with-football-shirts-to-let-russian-lgbt-a3885161.html)
I hope these kind images brought a smile to your face too. And remember, acts of kinds cost nothing but are worth a lot.
Thanks for sharing these wonderful positive stories Alba. I often think of the more negative side of football so it’s great to see how a common interest can bring people together. Definitely relevant to my job as an Occupational Therapist.
Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie…
As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.
An uplifting story of friendship, unity and hope that highlights the important and topical issues surrounding young carers and young refugees.
I really enjoyed Siobhan’s Moonlight Dreamers and Tell it to the Moon (which I’m just about to loan to a friend’s daughter) so I think this will be a fabulous read. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow is out now.
by M. A. Griffin
I can’t tell you how excited I was when I first saw the cover to my new novel, PAYBACK.
I’d known the cover had been causing them a few problems. The design team knew what they were after but couldn’t quite get it to work. The wonderfully talented Helen Crawford-White was given the gig, and the publication date was put back as she laboured away; April became May became July.
Then the cover arrived, a pdf attached to an email. I was blown away. It was black, with cool, reflective gold foil lettering. And – I suspect I’m alone in this – I’d always wanted a black book. I have a thing about black books.
Here’s why. To me, black books are holiday books. I guess this goes back to the horror-obsession I had during my teenage years in the late 1980s. As my family’s summer break loomed each year, I’d pack black books about monsters. I remember James Herbert’s The Rats and The Fog, Guy Smith’s The Crabs, Steven King’s stuff and Peter Benchley’s The Deep (which might’ve been more like dark blue.)
It’s worth mentioning that PAYBACK – a heist novel about a gang of anti-capitalist teenage thieves – has little relationship to my summer reading all those years ago. PAYBACK is a thrilling series of robberies, an exploration of direct action and its consequences, a story following powerful and idealistic young activists as they target corrupt organisations and redistribute wealth to the needy. It’s Robin Hood meets The 39 Steps. Nothing like King or Herbert.
Other than, of course, in the colour of its cover.
Black books do special things when you take them to a sunny beach or pool, and this is why I love them:
1. They absorb heat and nearly burn your fingers when you pick them up.
2. The glue that binds them melts faster than other books and the pages begin to separate.
3. Sand attaches itself to the tacky glue between the pages in fine lines. The book almost crunches as you leaf through it.
4. The covers often curl as they dry so your summer read assumes the shape of that elongated ‘m’ we use to indicate distant birds in childhood pictures.
5. Splashed swimming pool water gathers in beads on black covers. Each becomes a super-heated pinprick before it evaporates.
So there you go, folks – five very good reasons to pack PAYBACK in your suitcase this summer!
Cover design by Helen Crawford-White studiohelen.co.uk
PAYBACK by M. A. Griffin out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House)
Follow M.A. Griffin on twitter @fletchermoss and find out more at http://www.chickenhousebooks.com
Do check out the other stops on the tour.
Thanks to Laura Smythe and Chicken House for the copy which I’m really looking forward to reading and burning my hands on in this heatwave.