Today I’m pleased to welcome Alan Jones to the blog. Alan is the author of The Cabinet Maker and Blue Wicked and his latest novel, Bloq, was published on 1 April 2016.
Alan kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Bloq.
Bloq is a very dark and gritty story about a father’s love for his daughter and the lengths to which he is willing to go to find her when she goes missing in London. Although it is a crime novel, it packs a fairly big emotional punch between the covers. From the moment Bill’s daughter doesn’t get off the train he waits in for in Glasgow’s Central station, his life changes forever as his search for her takes him down to London, losing his friends, family and ultimately his job. He discovers a world he didn’t know existed, and gets drawn into a nightmare of drugs and sleaze that takes him to the edge of despair, not knowing if he will ever see her again.
2. Where did the inspiration come from for the book?
About ten years ago, I talked to someone whose teenage kid had gone missing, and I was horrified how it took over the life of this person. The incident hung about in the back of my mind for a few years. I’d started my third book, which had stalled a little, when a rough plot for Bloq started to seep in to my thoughts. I tried writing the two books in parallel but that didn’t work, and eventually Bloq took over and I shelved the other story. I will probably revive it again at some point, but in retrospect, I think it needs another angle to it to really make it good enough to publish.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I’m a bit of both. I start with a loose general plan, not necessarily knowing how I’m going to get from one pivotal point to the next. I also work with a timeline which I fill in as I write – it helps me avoid glaring timing errors and the nearer I get to the end of the book, the closer the timeline gets to be a synopsis of the story, in time order, while the book may jump back and forward as the story is told from different character’s viewpoints.
However, as I write, quite often the story takes legs of its own, leading me down directions which I hadn’t really planned on. Sometimes getting those meanderings to fit into the story can be a challenge, but they are usually when I write most naturally, so I try and go with them.
4. What did you discover about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
Simply that I could do it. It took a while to get going with my first book – I didn’t have the confidence to believe I could write, so often I’d come up against a problem and stop for months at a time. Once I got to about half way through my first book, it all seemed to click and I finished the book in one big push..
I was also surprised how rapidly the words appeared on paper when I was in the mood. This especially happens towards the end of a book when all the timing and structure issues have sorted themselves out, and I’m just telling the story by immersing myself in how I imagine the characters would think, feel and speak..
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I make furniture. (It was the Inspiration for my first book, The Cabinetmaker). I sail a 40 year old yacht in the Irish Sea and up the West coast of Scotland as far as the Hebrides. It always needs a lot of maintenance which keeps me busy. I do quite a bit of cooking and I just gave up playing football last year when my crocked ankle finally told me that I was too old to try and compete with the young bucks.
I love reading, although I find that I have a lot less time for it since I started writing. When I can, I also love to watch films.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Probably Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, but Leon Uris’s Mila 18 and James Clavell’s Shogun would be close behind. They’re all very different, but I find myself going back to them every so often. Trainspotting because Irvine Welsh captures the humour and the tragedy of the drug scene in Scotland, and his use of language is second to none. Mila 18 is a very clever take on the uprising in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw, and Shogun is a long book which keeps you hooked for all its 900 odd pages, cleverly mixing history with characters you can really bond with.
7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During the Q&As and interviews you’ve done before what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I wish I’d been asked what it’s like to be a best-selling author.
Sadly, at this point, my answer would have to be that I don’t know! But one day…
About the book:
“A gritty crime thriller. Glasgow man Bill Ingram waits in the city’s Central Station to meet his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train pulls 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.”
(image and synopsis from Amazon)