Welcome to the five hundred and seventy-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with novelist, philosopher and writer for children (and translator!) Will Buckingham. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Will. Please tell us something about yourself.
Will: Hello, and thanks for having me on your blog. I’m a writer interested in fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature. My second novel, The Descent of the Lyre (Roman Books) was published in August 2012. I also write for children (The Snorgh and the Sailor, Alison Green Books, 2012), and philosophy. These days, I’m based in Leicester, slap-bang in the middle of England, although I was brought up in Norfolk and in the years in between I’ve moved round a fair amount.
Morgen: You’re not far from me, about five junctions up the M1… and I was born just seven junctions further south. How did you come to be a writer?
Will: Writing is something that has crept up on me. I read quite a lot whilst I was a teenager, and then I became an art student, which gave me plenty of time and very little to do with it. I studied art for four years, and most of the time I spent reading books, drinking coffee, and lounging around in paint-smeared overalls trying to look artistic. I didn’t get much painting done, but I read a vast number of books. Then several things happened. I graduated in 1994, and in the same year I won second prize in the Independent newspaper travel writing competition, for a short piece about having my bike hijacked by a fervently proselytising Christian in Pakistan. Later that year I went off to Indonesia, and it was there that I decided I would start writing seriously. My experiences in Indonesia later turned into my first novel, Cargo Fever (Tindal Street Press, 2007).
Morgen: I read a lot as a teenager too and blame Stephen King for me wearing glasses (his latest book / torch / duvet). I didn’t start writing until 2005 when it suddenly dawned on me (via an evening class) who thrilling it was to write fiction. You write so many things, what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Will: At heart, I am a storyteller; but the kinds of things that I write tend to move between genres. So I sometimes stray into writing philosophy and also into writing for children. What I’m interested can be boiled down to two main things: philosophical stories, and story-like philosophies. I’m always doing one or the other.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Will: I have published two novels, The Descent of the Lyre, which is about music and myth in Bulgaria, and Cargo Fever, which is about the outer islands of Indonesia. I have also written popular philosophy (Introducing Happiness, Icon Books 2012), decidedly unpopular philosophy (Finding Our Sea-Legs, Kingston University Press, Levinas, Storytelling and Anti-storytelling, Bloomsbury), and for children (The Snorgh and the Sailor, mentioned ealier). I have only once written under a pseudonym, Lupe Varos, when I wanted to fill a hole in a literary magazine I was writing and, being short of good material for that particular edition, I wrote a story, invented an author, and published it.
Morgen: I love that, and why not? If we can’t be creative, who can? Have you self-published? If so, what led to you going your own way?