Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Author Interview: P J Willett

Answering my questions today is author P J Willett. Here is a bit about his debut novel, Will Proles' Rise.


William Proles knows he is a member of the underclass. His friends are pathetic, his mother is insipid, his teachers are useless and his tormentors are animals. If only there was a way he could change it all...

William just wants to complete the next two and a half years of secondary school, and remain relatively unscathed. A long career where his culinary expertise is celebrated, by even the most gastronomically experienced of food critics, awaits – then he will be able to look after his family properly. He will buy his sister some proper toys, get his Mum the help she needs, and maybe finally start talking to his brother again. It is only when William starts to think about why his life is so miserable that he realises he has the power to change everything much sooner than planned. He doesn’t have to be a member of the underclass anymore. William Proles can rise.

Will Proles’ Rise is a contemporary, coming-of-age drama, with an undertone of urban fantasy. It is a story about an admirable boy who endures a miserable existence, until he realises he has the potential to change things. The more Will Proles realises that he doesn’t have to endure his miserable existence, the less admirable he becomes. 

Q&A with P J Willett

Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?
My ideal writing space would be a small, dark, cold room. I wouldn't have access to my phone, there wouldn't be a television, and I wouldn't be able to hear my 15 month old son. I would have a blank notepad, a laptop, and some way of playing my greatest hits playlist. I would also need access to all my favourite books, just to aid me in the task of copying everything I've ever loved. In reality I write wherever, and whenever, I can - most commonly when lying in bed at night.

What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about?
The first novel I remember writing was inspired by a book about 4 children climbing a magical tree (I can't remember the title). As an imaginative 7/8 year old I copied the first chapter almost word for word. My only original input into the much plagiarised story was the repetitive use of the adverb 'very' when describing how large the tree was (I must have filled half a side of A4 just with that one word). I obviously used to think the quantity of words I used was more important than the quality - something that I have really, really, really... really tried to work on.

Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable?
'The power of one' & 'Tandia' by Bryce Courtenay - I will class it as a single book as they are so completely linked.
My mother made me read it and no book has ever quite matched how it made me feel since. Being a teenager at the time, I had not yet become cynical enough to stop myself from believing that there might be something I could do for the characters living in my head. Peekay became a great friend, I was devastated when I lost him.

If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?
I would ask Cormac McCarthy if he thinks my debut novel is any good, and I would be terrified of what his answer might be. Not only do I love his books, but the characters he creates are perfect. I would like to know if my book was capable of creating in him even the slightest of emotional responses - I have spent many a night staring at the dark ceiling while thinking about how futile everything is, courtesy of some of his novels.

If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?
My only novel available so far is 'Will Proles' Rise', so I have to answer Will Proles. I would like to think I know exactly what I would say to him to help him make the right decisions. Unfortunately, I share a lot of his weaknesses, so I would possibly just end up making things much worse, the last thing he needs is encouragement from someone who is completely defensive of him.

What is one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing?
If I can only choose one thing it would have to be watching films. From the completely mainstream, to the utterly obscure and pretentious. When my son is old enough to really appreciate my big box VHS collection, we are going to have some really great nights watching the best the 80's had to offer.

What are you currently working on?
The second draft of the sequel to 'Will Proles' Rise'. I decided on a new character that needed to be added and I can't stop thinking about him - he makes me feel sick. I have also completed a very basic draft of the third and final Will Proles novel. And I have written a character list, along with some basic scenes, for a new, standalone book.

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