Today I welcome fellow Crooked Cat Publishing author Jeff Gardiner to tell us about his writing...
Jeff Gardiner is a UK writer whose contemporary novel, Myopia, explores bullying and prejudice – recently published by Crooked Cat Books. His collection of short stories, A Glimpse of the Numinous, published last year by Eibonvale Press, has received some excellent reviews. Both are available as paperbacks and e-books. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, journals and webzines. He also has a work of non-fiction being published at the end of 2013 by Headpress.
For more information please see his website at www.jeffgardiner.com and his blog: http://jeffgardiner.wordpress.com/
What are the main ideas or themes in your book?
‘Myopia’ is a contemporary novel that explores bullying amongst teenagers. Jerry is beaten because he wears glasses and he attempts to respond to the bullies assertively but with decidedly non-violent means. He has to be quite creative to get the effect he wants. His growing attraction for Mindy also allows the book to examine the horrors of racism.
What is the setting or context of the narrative? Why is it important?
Jerry lives in Crawley – a thriving and modern new town with its County Mall Shopping Centre and spacious Tilgate Park. I had fun imagining Crawley Town Football Club being in the Premiership and competing on television for the Champions’ League Trophy ... well, there’s no harm in dreaming!
Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.
Jerry is attempting to deal with being bullied whilst trying to convince Mindy to be his first girlfriend. Meanwhile his best friends seem to be abandoning him because of his ‘sad’ victim status. Then his teachers don’t seem too interested in his plight although Mr Finn, the Deputy-Head, is a real man of action who becomes an important part of the struggle. Jerry discovers more than he bargained for when he tries to understand the bully, Wayno.
Why did you write this novel? Any other issues or ‘big ideas’ behind it?
I wanted to run with the idea that being short-sighted is not necessarily a disability; in fact it gives you a new way of seeing things – a different perspective on life. I was born with a squint and have lived in a world of myopia all my life. Jerry takes it to an extreme by imagining himself as the ‘Knight of Myopia’ with super powers. Things start to go drastically wrong when he starts to believe his own hype and takes things way too far.
How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?
Once I have the outline and main characters, then I like to keep things flexible so they can (and they do) change. I like it when the characters and narrative take over and create whole new surprises. Once underway it’s wonderful being creative, focussing on the story itself. So to answer the question ... it’s very complicated and time-consuming but also invigorating and incredibly satisfying when you hold the finished product.
What advice do you have for less experienced writers?
Keep going! Believe in yourself and your work. There will be a market somewhere if the writing is good enough. But don’t give up the day-job ... yet. I recommend the small presses which are run by lovely people who actually care about writers. Marketing and placing your writing is very hard work, so if you’re not fully committed then you might get frustrated.
If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?
When you’re driving in your car be the kind person who stops to let others in, rather than the brash arrogant types who selfishly push in and cause accidents. Be as creative, open-minded and tolerant as you can be.