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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Neil Grimmett

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Neil today

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Neil Grimmett has had over eighty five short stories published. In the UK by among others: London Magazine, Stand, Panurge, Iron, Ambit, Postscripts Magazine, Pretext etc. Australia, Quadrant, South Africa, New Contrast. Plus stories in the leading journals of Singapore, India, France, Canada, and the USA, where he has appeared in Fiction, The Yale Review, DoubleTake, The southern Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Descant, The Southern Review, West Branch and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. He has appeared online in Blackbird, Plum Ruby Review, Tatlin’s Tower, Web Del Sol, In Posse Review, m.a.g., Word Riot, Blue Moon Review, 3AM, Gangway, Eclectica, The Cortland Review, Segue, The Dublin Quarterly , Ducts, Sugar Mule, Mysterical E, Thuglit and over thirty others. His stories have also appeared in the anthologies: ENGLAND CALLING, BOOK OF VOICES and Italy’s ISBN’s Top International Stories. He has made the storySouth Million Writers Notable Short Story list for the last three years. In addition, he has won the Write On poetry award, 7 Oppenheim John Downes Awards, 5 major British Arts Council Awards, a Royal Society of Authors award and was just awarded a major grant from the Royal Literary Fund.  He has been signed over the last ten years by twelve of the leading literary agents in both the UK and USA. His current agent is Jon Elek at United Agents .

THE HOARD, Neil’s next novel is about to come out on Kindle.

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Welcome Neil,

What was the idea/inspiration for The Threshing Circle?

 The murder of a young English woman who had fallen in love with a Greek Resistance hero and was betrayed to the occupying Germans.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book which would you be? and why?

Barba Yiorgos, because he is a complicated, reluctant hero who eventually makes good.

Please tell us about the characters in your book

Kirsty: feisty divorcee who tries to rescue a kidnapped couple. Barba Yiorgos, her reluctant and devious (at first) accomplice. Nikos and his sons: band and evil to the core. And the Cretans with their special take on life.

Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?

My characters always end up surprising me. That is how I know when they are alive!

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

The tunnel to the prison. I loved the smell, memory and tension.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

The end. Can’t say as it is a spoiler.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?

Several reviewers have said Sean Connery for Barba Yiorgos and he would be perfect if still young enough to try! Julianne Moore for Kirsty.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be … 

Kirsty, run; Barba Yiorgos, stay hidden; Eleni and Patrick don’t come to Crete. But then there wouldn’t have been a book!

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use?

Orthodox Academy of Crete; Chania Museum and several interviews with Resistance fighters and about everyone who I met during six years on Crete!

What inspired you to write?

Like Faulkner said every time I sit down to write, I am inspired! But also, the short story that came out in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and the fascination with the story I felt.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Morning before anything or anyone gets in the way!

Who designs your book covers?

Damon Za  for the Kindles and a painter, Louise Yeandle, for my early literary novel, The Bestowing Sun.

How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

They grow hair by hair, tooth by tooth until flesh covers bone and they begin to move off the slab  by that spark of life I’ve managed to generate.

What are you working on now?

A new novel about to come out called, THE HOARD. And 300 pages into a supernatural thriller.

Do you have a favourite book? Why?  What is it about that book?

Too many; but recently read again Polar Star by Martin Crutz Smith and was amazed that a writer could take a different culture, place it in an almost alien environment and make it totally credible and so surreal at the same time. Great writing. But so many. Comfort book: Brideshead Revisited.

Do you think movie adaptations do books justice?  Do you have a favourite?

Yes and no. Loved Shutter Island and Mystic River nearly as much as the books. Thought Life of Pi better than the book. Thought Blood Works destroyed a good novel.

What are you reading now? Opinion?

Gone Girl; contrivance but an original one. Dr Sleep; brilliant as King often is.

Are there any tips you could share with self-published writers that have worked well for you or was there something difficult you overcame?  How?

At the moment this is new to me after having had top literary agents for the last decade, but something I have been told many times already by Amazon’s top reviewers is: (a) most of the query letters are so badly written they don’t bother to ask to see the book; and (b) most self-published novels are so bad, they are refusing to read them all! So, just because you can self-publish, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to be read. Work, work and work some more. And remember what King said: To write is human; to edit divine.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

My literary credits; the prizes and the recent reviews for THE THRESHING CIRCLE. Plus meeting other writers.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

14 major literary agents signing me; and all the publishers not quite willing to take a risk.

 Finally Neil, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Keep writing; keep reading. Don’t lose the fact it is about the story and your vision. And do not try to write for the market.

Thank you for sharing with us today Neil.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

The Threshing CircleD (4)A young couple arrive on Crete and start prying into the execution of a beautiful English woman during the German occupation sixty years before. They enter a labyrinth of betrayals, murder, greed and vendettas, old and new. Then they disappear.

A feisty Scottish lady and an irascible, Zorba-like Greek, form a reluctant allegiance in a desperate attempt to save them. Each has a very different motive for their actions. Their search will take them to hidden rituals and remote gatherings, famous monasteries and villages abandoned after years of vendettas. To the remote island of Gavdos and to a place ‘even the gods do not know exists’.

All the time they are being stalked by the sons of a man who seeks to complete the crimes of his father and sate his own greed. His sons are more animal than human and have been raised in the mountains for the sole purpose of fulfilling his brutal will.

The mystery of Crete runs deep and the novel explores some of the myths and magic while not shying away from its violent history.

By the end choices will have to be made; if such things are possible on a island where many Cretans still believe, ‘The Cycle of Blood’ can never stop flowing.

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