R J Gould writes humorous contemporary fiction, loosely romantic, but with an edge, as he explores family relationships across age, gender and class. His male perspective on romance provides a refreshingly original viewpoint.
Following selection for the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists Association (UK) in 2014 he was taken on by Accent Press. A Street Cafe Named Desire was published in December 2014 and The Engagement Party in May 2015.
R J Gould is a member of Cambridge Writers, where he leads the Commercial Editing Group. Writing fiction is his passion but not his full time job. He works for a national educational charity, has published in a wide range of journals and magazines, and is the co-author of a major work on educating able young people.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? It was a single idea. I’m interested in how perspectives can differ so much between people and decided to write a novel using third person in part one then retell the same story using first person in part two. This was Nothing Man, the story of a man who thinks that’s exactly what he is, but as events unfold, it’s evident that he has talent, strength of character and compassion. A new version of the novel has gone to my publisher. I’ve abandoned telling the same story twice and instead move the plot forward at the change from third to first person.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured?
I have a full time job so my writing is done at weekends and during evenings. My partner is the exact opposite of me – she’s an early riser (and I do mean early) and during the week, early to bed. That gives me between about 9.00 pm and midnight to write.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
So far, fortunately not. I think this is partly because there are several options of what to do – write the next chapter, write something that I know will fit though am not sure where, go back and do some editing. I choose what I’m in the mood for.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story?
Definitely a panster. I only know the start, the end and a few key bits in the middle when I start writing. Even the characters are barely formed at the outset – I like to develop them with the plot and at times have the exciting experience of feeling that the characters are telling me what they want to do next.
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?
I’m traditionally published though had a couple of quite successful years self-publishing. That started in 2012 and in my opinion it’s much harder now to gain visibility with an e-book. My advice is still to go for it while trying to get an agent and publisher. Unless you’re already famous or extremely fortunate, even with a publisher, marketing is largely up to the author.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
Two things. One was when I self-published and shot up the charts with The Engagement Party to be Number One on Amazon within Humorous Romantic Fiction. With the publisher, the highlight so far has been receiving the books with covers I love.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. I’m at the first edit stage of Jack and Jill went Downhill, the story of two students who meet at Freshers Big Party Night. It traces developments over the next fifteen years as the pair, initially amused by the coincidence of their names matching that of the nursery rhyme, fail to recognise that their lives are following the events of the rhyme with Jack falling down (from his high-powered job in the City) and Jill coming tumbling after (sacked for ‘misconduct’ with a fellow teacher). I’d better not reveal the ending!
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under?
My writing is loosely in the Romance genre. I’m well aware that far more women than men read romance and that the vast majority of writers are female. This certainly presents a challenge to the male author – how to attract readers. Some agents have suggested I write using a female pseudonym. Adopting R J instead of Richard is my cowardly compromise. Since real life relationships involve as many men as women, there has to be insight gained by females reading the male perspective (and equally by males reading the female one). My readers are predominantly female and they’ve provided tremendously positive feedback about my novels. Of course, there’s a whole spectrum of styles within the genre of Romance, so plenty of opportunities for men to find their niche. Mine is humour, but equally a more serious insight into the ups and downs of relationships between protagonists carrying juggernaut loads of baggage.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?
There’s my job for starters. I play tennis as much as possible, read fiction (of course) and enjoy the cinema.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) It is hard! Networking is important and I think a number of strong connections is better than going for the world record volume of Facebook friends and twitter followers. Show an interest in what these people you connect with are doing rather than merely promoting your work.
11.How would you describe your writing style?11. How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? For both A Street Café Named Desire and The Engagement Party, a real life event triggered the story – a school reunion and an actual party. From that starting point imagination takes over as the experience is twisted and distorted beyond all recognition. Sometimes at the outset there are similarities between a protagonist and a real life person, maybe someone I know or I’ve simply seen them on a train and they look interesting. Pretty quickly that person is transformed – I’d never tell someone that they were the ‘person’ in a novel though I think one woman guessed but has never confronted me about it.