Here on Rock Paper Spirit, we love nothing more than to welcome other authors and writer to the site. Today we’re with G R Dix, author of the Brian Brackbrick stories, which are available on Amazon. Mr. Dix describes the world of the Brian Brackbrick stories as a world of fun, silliness, hats, cakes, books and mysteries. Well, that sounds like the perfect opportunity to visit a cake shop to me!
Garry, welcome to the cake shop! *serves us a piece of lemon drizzle* I’ve been blogging all morning so I really need a tea break. Do you find writing energises you or exhausts you?
Energise, definitely. How can it not? I think creativity and energy feed each other in a cycle, once you really allow yourself to let go. Especially when you write children’s books and spend time going into schools, reading to kids, and so on. Grown-ups accumulate a LOT of baggage from everyday life, and that can really hold you down; kids, of course, have none of that, and it’s wonderful to be reminded of that so often.
Have you ever been on a literary pilgrimage? *tosses you a red velvet cupcake*
I have had the idea of visiting real-life examples of the shops in my books, that would make for some great selfie opportunities. For example, I know there is a hat shop in Birmingham like Harry Hatman’s, a flower shop in Berlin called Blumen (just like Mrs. Blumenhole’s shop!), and amazingly a dessert place has just opened in my home town that’s just like Fancy Nancy’s cake shop (Delightful Desserts, Kettering).
Also, next time I’m in New York I really want to visit the Dag Hammarskjold building at UN Plaza, which is said to be the inspiration for the physical tower in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.
It’s so nice to chat to a fellow writer. Chatting to others in the same industry certainly gives me a different perspective on how we all work. What authors are you friends with and how do these friendships shape your writing career? *pours more tea*
Knowing other authors is essential, it really is. I have met some amazing writers at various stages of their own careers, and they have helped so much. People like BB Taylor, Beth Kemp, Natalie Perry, Kathryn Evans, Lorraine Hellier, Marie Basting – amazing writers and lovely people, so supportive. There are also writers I know ‘virtually’, i.e. contact through social media / email, but never met in person, such as Vashti Hardy, Liz Pichon, Lissa Evans, Peter Bunzl. I have met most through being a ‘Scooby’, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They are the most supportive organisation on the planet, joining them was the best thing I could have done.
I am loving the novelty cakes in here. Look, there’s a clown one! Do you think it tastes funny? *tumbleweed* Anyway… Would you rather be stuck in a lift with a wasp or a weird clown?
A clown, definitely! At least the clown would have a story, and might inspire something. Wasps, though…forget those guys!!
What did you do with your first royalty payment?
Every penny earned goes into a pot to fund the next book in the series. As I am independently published, I have to bear all the costs, such as paying my illustrator, proof copies, author copies, memberships, conferences, events, meetings…. I have a dream that one day, I might actually make a profit!
What books or magazines would you recommend for other aspiring writers?
On Writing by Stephen King is the obvious one, as far as physical books go.
If you are a member of an organisation (such as SCBWI), their newsletters, notifications, emails and articles etc. are very useful. You could also follow and subscribe to lots of book bloggers, and check out their contents and guest posts for tips and information. Use social media as a tool, find and follow the writers and/or bloggers that you think you can learn from (and don’t forget to interact with them too).
Otherwise, just read – read as much as you can, as often as you can. It is all part of learning the craft. Challenge yourself too, try to pick things that you wouldn’t normally choose. I really want to emphasise this – you must allow yourself time to read. You might notice from social media that the hashtags #amwriting and #amreading go together so often, and there’s a reason for that. As Stephen King himself said: “If you don’t have the time to read, then you have neither the time nor the tools to write.”
*dodges a flying chunk of chocolate cake* What the… Did someone just thrown that at me? Never mind… You’re at a dinner party. You can choose any one living person, any one deceased person and any one fictional character to sit at your table. Who do you choose?
Living: Stephen King. Master of the craft. (Back-up: Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
Deceased: Stephen Hawking. Overcame so much and changed our way of thinking about the universe. (Back-up: Terry Pratchett.)
Fictional: Sweep. Do I need to explain why? (Back-up: Homer Simpson.)
Hmm, Stephen King, Stephen Hawking and Sweep. That would be a very interesting party! How do you select names for characters?
I like names that are alliterative, or that relate to the person’s character, or that sound funny, or all of the above. Names to me are a big part of the creative process, and can pop into your head a number of ways. My main character, Brian Brackbrick, was named by one of my grandsons – he just blurted it out one day when we were chatting about names, and that was it – Brian popped into my head straight away, and hasn’t left me alone since.
Other sources that might surprise you are:
Unusual village or place names – take notice when you’re driving around, or looking at a map. Some of those quirky village names sound great as character names, and can really help with sparking creativity.
Typos / misheard names or words – next time you drop a clanger on the keyboard, before you delete it, read it aloud. Is it funny? Could it work as a surname? Again, it’s about sparking that creativity.
You’re given a choice between never being able to write a full book again and never being able to read a full book again. You always miss the last page. Which do you choose? *ducks to avoid a flying meringue*
Wow, tough question. I think the first one, as you could make it a promotional angle, i.e. have a competition for the readers to write the last page for you, and the best one wins a prize.
Good idea! Now, I’m about to start a new career and part of it is helping people get out of writer’s block. Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, although the funny thing about ‘belief’ is that things tend to exist whether we believe in them or not! I think there is a tendency now with writers to try and move away from the concept of writer’s block. Periods where you’re not actually putting words on the page are actually a part of the overall writing process, and are sometimes just as important. There are times when stepping away from the keyboard and doing other things is the right thing to do. Let those ideas swirl around in your head for a while, and usually problems will resolve. I like the notion of an ‘idea casserole’, where you pop your story components in the metaphorical pot and let them simmer for a while. When you come back to the pot later, the story is juicier and more tasty!
Do you think writing is more of a creative experience or a spiritual experience? And by spiritual I mean, it’s something that you find a connection with deep in your soul in a non-religious way.
I don’t think you can separate these – one feeds the other. When you write, certainly in the ideas phase, you need to switch off all your grown-up thinking habits, the ones that tell you, “you can’t do that,” or “that’s stupid,” etc. That’s VERY freeing, you could say it’s therapeutic, definitely. I feel like that’s allowing a really important part of me – a part that was hidden away for a long time – to take the wheel for a while. I guess creativity, for me, is the process of externalising this part of you, which I wouldn’t call ‘spiritual’, but I get why others would.
Some of these cakes are so colourful! What colour are your bedroom curtains?
Err… pale blue? Teal?
Do you dedicate your books to anyone? How do you choose the dedications?
I always dedicate my children’s books to my grandsons, Dylan, Ollie and Owen. It was through them that I rediscovered the books I used to love, and all the great kids’ books released over the last few years, and Ollie provided the spark that set the whole thing off. Also, they have been my captive audience for beta testing!
Now, no Lacey interview would be complete without this question; What’s your favourite biscuit?
Chocolate digestives, you can’t beat the classics. Also Choco Liebniz, I remember when they weren’t so readily available here and family would bring them over from Germany.
And finally… Do you believe in magic?
Depends what you mean by ‘magic’. You might think it’s magic that certain large-brained mammals driven by some very basic biological needs can transcend that and create worlds-within-worlds of stories to mesmerise and transfix and entertain and inspire others. As the eminent philosopher Freddie Mercury once wrote: “It’s a kind of magic…”
Thanks for the interview! If you’d like to read some of G R Dix’s work, you can purchase the books on Amazon. Links are included in the interview.
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