Whoop whoop the bloomin’ fabulous Alan Jones joins me today to talk about his author influences!
Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
Stig of the Dump and the Asterix books were my all-time favourite as a kid but I read a pile of Enid Blyton books too and went through most of the child section of our local library until the Librarian, an elderly man (of about my age now, probably 😊), told me I could take books out of the adult section as long as he passed them as suitable. He suggested I might want to start with Alistair Maclean and Desmond Bagley.
Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved creative writing but I hated dissecting books to the nth degree. I may sometimes take a book too literally and fail to find the author’s underlying message, although even I did manage to get Animal Farm’s subtext without prompting but the search for deep meaning always spoiled a book for me. My year one teacher spotted that I was a reader, and gave me all sorts of books to read. That was my introduction to authors like Nevil Shute and Nicholas Monsorrat, Lewis Grassic Gibbon and George Orwell. I’m forever in her debt to opening my mind up to a wide range of books and writers.
What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I read most genres, except romance and the supernatural, although I do like a good relationship in a non-romance book. I find myself drawn into writing a love story when I’m writing my own books, which I hope makes my crime thrillers very human. I like science fiction when it is close to reality and is firmly based on science. Fantasy not so much. Historical stuff can be really good if it engages me with people who seem real. I enjoy crime and legal thrillers, and try and read literary books occasionally, both modern and classic. And I really like quirky books, that just stick out for some undefinable reason.
If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
Funny you should ask that. After three gritty crime novels, I am now researching a non-crime book. It is historical to an extent, but it is within the last century. The problem is that I’ve discovered writing such a book requires a vast amount of research compared with the average crime novel (especially as my first two books were based in Glasgow, where I lived until the age of 22).
Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
I think Irvine Welsh’s use of Scottish urban dialect and his no-holds-barred approach to describing real life allowed me to write as I felt, without getting worried or embarrassed about what readers would think. I know that my books won’t appeal to everyone, as they contain a lot of swearing, violence, varying degrees of sexual content and some pretty strong Glasgow slang (in the first two at least).
Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Again, Irvine Welsh would fit into that category. I’m trying to read as widely as I can at the moment, so I’m trying not to get too tied to any particular author just now.
Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
Mila 18, by Leon Uris, Shogun by James Clavell and Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. All very different, but all had the wow factor for me, for different reasons. Mila 18 is the best novel about the Holocaust that I have read. It’s a sort of ‘what-if’ book loosely based on the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. Shogun is another novel roughly inspired by a true event, about a British Sailor shipwrecked in Japan who becomes an integral part of Japanese culture. Trainspotting is one of the most visceral books about the side of Scotland not portrayed on tourist posters, and is a searing indictment of the Scottish Capital’s underbelly.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Yes, many of my characters inherit traits from people I know or who I’ve come in contact with. In my second book, Blue Wicked, a lot of the plotlines were drawn from my everyday job – I don’t want to say more, lest I give away the opening of the book.
In my first book, The Cabinetmaker, the main character makes bespoke furniture, and plays amateur football, both passions of mine, so the plot and the descriptions of the characters were heavily influenced by my own interests, and it meant that I didn’t have to do too much research!
A massive thank you Alan for taking part and for the brilliant responses!
Bloq Alan’s latest novel is out now … and it’s brilliant. You can read my review of it HERE.
A father waits in Glasgow’s Central Station for his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train has pulled in, and she doesn’t get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why. His search for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again.
About Alan Jones
Alan Jones is a Scottish Author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. Living on the Clyde coast in Ayrshire, he works in the animal health industry, makes furniture and maintains and sails a 40 year old yacht in the Irish Sea and the West coast of Scotland. He writes under a pen name for work related reasons, and is married with grown up children. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. Last year he hung up his football boots as age and a dodgy ankle caught up with him.
His books are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.
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