Gary M. Dobbs (The M being for Martin or Matilda depending on his mood) was born and bred in the small Welsh village of Gilfach Goch. Since reaching adulthood, and realising he doesn’t really like it that much Gary has been a taxi driver, factory worker, stand up comedian and actor (see photo). The pinnacle of his acting remains a part in a Doctor Who two parter and playing a gimp in the Neil Jones movie, The Reverend.
As an author Gary first made his mark writing westerns for Robert Hale LTD’s Black Horse Western imprint. For these books he used the name Jack Martin but he’s also written horror as Vincent Stark, crime as Gary M. Dobbs and for the Granny Smith series he is G. M. Dobbs.
“I don’t stick to one genre,” he says. “Why should I? I think it absurd that writers are only supposed to work in the one genre. Actors work in all kind of movies, as do screenwriters and it is only with novels that authors seem to be expected to fit into a particular spot. I go where the muse takes me regardless of the genre.”
And over the last few years that muse has led Gary into some strange places – a zombie infested world for the Dead Walked series, to Victorian South Wales for his historical thriller, The Welsh Ripper Murders and out West for several best-selling westerns. Lately the muse has been hanging around the Welsh village of Gilfach for the popular Granny Smith series.
The village of Gilfach is fictional though Gary prefers to call it semi-fiction, since it is based very much on his home village of Gilfach Goch. This semi-fictional village is populated by a surreal bunch of characters such as Dai Twice, the local special police constable and Mr Patel the owner of the minimarket.
Granny Smith, billed as Miss Marple on steroids, is a seventy odd years old hippy chick who just happens to find herself mixed up in all manner of mayhem. One reviewer compared the character to Stephanie Plum but with more wrinkles.
“I liked that,” Gary says. “After all the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series is bloody good. Having Granny compared to the character is a thrill.”
It was a long road into print for Gary. He’s always written, ever since he was a child and over the years published short stories and articles in magazines as diverse as Interzone, Skeleton Crew and People’s Friend. A particular highlight of what he calls his early years was having plays broadcast on both Radio Four and Radio Wales. However it was not until he was forty that Gary saw his first novel published when he sold a western, The Tarnished Star to the respected publisher, Robert Hale.
From there on in it’s been all systems go and Gary has a backlist that includes several westerns, a handful of horror thrillers and a sprinkling of mysteries. This March saw the digital publication of Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs, and late summer will see the third and final book in the Walking Dead series. And in November Gary’s new western, The Afterlife of Slim McCord (about a mummified outlaw) will be published in hardcover by Robert Hale LTD.
So where does Gary get his ideas? “I like people watching,” Gary Explains. “Well one woman in particular but the police have told me I’ve got to stop it.”
Ideas, he claims, can come from anywhere. From items in the newspapers, from movies, from other books or just out of thin air. Gary tells us that he initially had a dream about the character that became Granny Smith, though no doubt this was fuelled by his love for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books as well as the comedic crimes of writers like Simon Brett and M. C. Beaton and the more farcical elements of authors like Tom Sharpe.
There are certainly comedic elements in the Granny Smith books. In the latest book Granny Smith and The Deadly Frogs there are scenes in which Granny finds herself having to defend herself against two naked lesbians as well as a high-speed pursuit of a drugged up joy rider.
And now from the author himself:
These days there seems to be a lot of buzz about enhanced books – you know books or eBooks with added content and I wanted to stretch this a little and so I’ve created an enhanced web presence for Granny Smith – for instance Granny has her own blog and Facebook page and these sites are maintained as if by Granny herself. This, I feel, allows the reader to have some fun in Granny’s world and the blog and Facebook page are very much an extension of the books. And when you read about Granny Smith’s detective website in the books a Google search will take you to that very page.
Granny Smith has her own Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/granny.smith.1029
And her own blog at http://grannysrockshack.blogspot.co.uk
These pages are not exactly fake since there is no secret that I am actually the author, but I find it fun posting on Granny’s Facebook page in the guise of a seventy one year old ex hippie chick who once bedded Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Check out the Wings song, Famous Groupies and there you have the younger Granny Smith.
Granny Smith, the geriatric sleuth, takes it all in her stride. I love the character and have outlines for another five books featuring Granny’s world. The character’s proven popular with readers and I hope to eventually extend the lives of the secondary characters who pop up from book to book. I think Dai Twice could carry a standalone novel as could Granny’s gay son, Gerald.”
In the future I hope to finish the script I am writing for a possible Granny Smith TV series as well as continue to pen novels that people will want to read. At the moment I’ve got the proofs of my next western, The Afterlife of Slim McCord on my desk waiting for my attention. I need to get these to my publisher by the end of the week and then I’m going to finally complete the Dead Walked trilogy, before starting work on another Granny Smith.
It’s all go…
- His two blogs: http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com (western) and http://tiny.cc/2jz6r (horror)
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/jackmartinwest
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gary.m.dobbs
- and his Jack Martin website: http://jackmartinwesterns.webs.com
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