Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Interview with author David Clapham

The Special and the Ordinary

1. What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book?
Most of us encounter friends or colleagues, or have other members of the family, who are distinctly more talented or ambitious or charismatic than ourselves. What should we do about these ‘special’ people?
I wanted to discuss how ‘special’ people can get away with behavior that is unacceptable from ordinary people; and to present ordinary people finding satisfaction in their lives.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader?
This coming-of-age tale follows childhood friends, John and Martin, from their youth to adulthood as they grow up in the industrial city of Porterfield, Britain, during the post World War II eras of the 1950s and 1960…John’s “ordinary” persona is shy, intelligent, musically disposed, and exudes a serious approach to establishing himself as a musician…But, on the other end of the spectrum is Martin, whose “special” persona is charismatic, intelligent, precocious and exudes a lax approach to his path in life… While John works diligently to become rooted in the world as a classical musician, Martin easily flits, from being an evangelist to a faith healer to the legal field… The targeted reader is anybody who likes a thought-provoking novel with plenty of humorous incidents. Anyone who is musical (though this is by no means necessary to appreciate the story) will find plenty of interest. 

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down?
First the ‘special‘ side: I hope readers will be more skeptical of the importance of apparently special people, living or dead; more inclined to question why they are supposed to be so special. The full story is often much more complicated than is presented. For example, evolution is too much associated with Darwin, because scientists are often careless about the history of their subject. But many writers anticipated Darwin in evolutionary theory, despite the term ‘Darwinism’. Then the ‘ordinary’ side: you don’t have to be famous to find satisfaction in your life.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?
I benefitted greatly from professional editorial advice, particularly from developmental editors who take the whole narrative into account. For both The Special and the Ordinary and my earlier Odd Socks I paid for editing at the Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau and then bought  packages from iUniverse that included developmental editing. Valuable advice was ‘Show, don’t tell’ – which often means using dialogue to reveal personality and to narrate; and ‘Don’t change viewpoint in the middle of a scene’ – which editors regard as very amateurish. I followed the editorial recommendations with minimal argument because I had learned the hard way from my scientific publishing that it is best to comply with reviewers’ and editors’ recommendations.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
The market for novels is super-saturated. A traditional publisher wants to have some selling line related to the peculiarities of the author. Otherwise the author can resort to self-publishing. He can take comfort from the fact that traditional publishers often miss good and best-selling novels. For example, Faber and Faber passed on a political novel to their publishers’ reader, T.S. Eliot, who turned it down on the grounds of literary weakness. He also commented that he was aware that he was probably at the same time rejecting the opportunity to publish the author’s next novel. Titles? Animal Farm and 1984, by George Orwell; best-selling novels on lists of 100 greatest books of all time.

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book?
I can usually think of plenty of material to write about, and can construct dialogue, but I have problems in organizing the narrative. I’m inclined to write a scene and then ask how did the characters get into all this, and then go back in time to explain. Editors don’t like this and want a more chronological narrative. They complain that I hop through time.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
The Special and the Ordinary is topical, because President Trump is a splendid example of a ‘special’ person like my character Martin Holford who is forgiven for behavior that would normally be unacceptable. In contrast, the internet, which is always topical, is an example of a movement where many ordinary people like my Johan Haworth, unknown to the general public, have come up with lots of good ideas that have collectively transformed daily life.

About the Author: David Clapham grew up in Sheffield, England, and received a bachelor’s degree in Botany from the University of Oxford. After working for five years at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station at Aberystwyth, Wales, he moved to Uppsala in 1973 where he still lives today. He is an emeritus researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and a consultant for a forest company.  David and his Swedish wife Lena have two children. The Special and the Ordinary is his second novel, after his earlier Odd Socks. For more info, please consult: www.davidhclapham.com

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs

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