Genre: Fiction Publication.Date July 5th 2016 Pages: 560 Published By: Open Road Media Author Patrick Gale The Facts of Life on Goodreads My review copy: Courtesy of Net galley
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It was a pleasure to gain answers to some of my most burning questions from the author Patrick Gale. After reading his book "The Facts of Life" I have come to realize what a seasoned author he is and his knowledge of writing is vast and very intriguing.
What made you want to become a writer?Reading, I expect. I was a voracious reader as a small boy and naturally performative and soon found that I had a certain facility. I’ve always suspect the impulse to read and that to write are extremely close. Certainly when I’m writing, I’m constantly imagining what my reader will be thinking… But I hadn’t planned on writing for a living. I planned on being a musician or an actor, or some combination of the two but writing got there first.Pen, typewriter or computer?Pen for fiction. Computer for screenplays (as the layouts are so fiddly and I need constantly to beware of writing too much). I type up each draft of a novel, often failing to read my spidery handwriting, then produce another draft on top of the printout in ink again. Inky writing just seems to suit my brain and I find it’s important to see my thought processes in case I want to reinstate a first impulse I’ve crossed out.Do you write alone or in public?I prefer alone. My husband Aidan designed me a beautiful writing room in our garden that is wonderfully silent unless I open the door or windows, and wonderfully warm. It’s lined with oak and has a ceiling like an upturned boat and a really big desk so I can make a really big mess. But I also love writing on the train journeys between Penzance and London, which are nearly six hours long.Do you prefer music or silence?Music works for me, provided it’s music with no words I can understand. I have a big digital box thing that holds virtually all our CD collection and I like setting it to random so that it throws up tracks that strike sparks off each other, lurching from an intense bit of Shostakovich to some giddy Handel aria and then off again into Poulenc or Bach. It’s all classical, though, which helps focus my brain. I save sexier music for my playlist when I’m running...E-book or physical copy?There’s a place for both but I tend only to use my e reader when I’m travelling. And I’ll never have the emotional attachment to my e-reader that I do to physical books.What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?An early reviewer once said words to the effect that “It’s all very amusing but one does start to wonder quite what is the point.” This was hugely salutary and I now regularly pull myself up short when writing and ask myself what the point is.What has been the best compliment?Well several people have been very kind indeed but I always love the reviewers who say they didn’t know my work before but immediately rushed out to seek out my backlist. Always a good sign.What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?The most memorable has to be the man who designed the book jacket for A Place Called Winter, who was barely a third in when he realised that we were both descended from the same man. In fact we’re long lost fourth cousins!What book that you have read has most influenced your life?Armistead Maupin’s Tales From the City series, which I read at a crucial stage when I was just starting as a novelist myself, made me realise how profoundly alive your characters can be made to feel if you get those little details right. Armistead and I are very different writers but I think we share a pretty intense relationship with our readers which seems to be founded upon allowing a bunch of people to believe that just out of sight, these characters’ lives are quietly carrying on. I remember feeling a kind of homesickness about Armistead’s Barbary Lane and its inhabitants, deeply wishing I could live there too, which is a sensation I always hope I might be able to bring on in my readers as well.Who is your favorite author?I have so many but there are certain writers whose work I buy the second it comes out, even if I can’t read it straightaway. Armistead, naturally, but also Anne Tyler, Rose Tremain, Colm Toibin and Damon Galgut.Favorite book (if you can pick just one)?Mansfield Park is pretty well perfection. If ever I’m really ill, I’ll want to have somebody sit at the bedside and read it to me.Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?I play the cello (both modern and baroque instruments). And I’m an obsessive gardener. In fact I’d quite happily spend a year doing nothing but work in my garden.If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?Mansfield Park, of course!What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?Harry’s sister-in-law, George. She’s sporty and shrewd. I think she’d think me silly and she’d be immune to my attempts to charm her.What do you love most about the writing process?Telling myself a story. Pushing myself to open up and say things on paper I probably wouldn’t have the courage to say in real life.
He has never had a grown-up job. For three years he lived at a succession of addresses, from a Notting Hill bedsit to a crumbling French chateau. While working on his first novels he eked out his slender income with odd jobs; as a typist, a singing waiter, a designer's secretary, a ghost-writer for an encyclopedia of the musical and, increasingly, as a book reviewer.
His first two novels, The Aerodynamics of Pork and Ease were published by Abacus on the same day in June 1986. The following year he moved to Camelford near the north coast of Cornwall and began a love affair with the county that has fed his work ever since.
He now lives in the far west, on a farm near Land's End with his husband, Aidan Hicks. There they raise beef cattle and grow barley. Patrick is obsessed with the garden they have created in what must be one of England's windiest sites and deeply resents the time his writing makes him spend away from working in it. As well as gardening, he plays both the modern and baroque cello. His chief extravagance in life is opera tickets.
Win 1 of 5 ecopies of "The Facts of Life" by Patrick Gale.