29 Jul 2015

Author Interview with Tom Conrad

Hi Tom! When did you first start writing? And when were you first published?
I’ve always had a love for writing; though in earlier years this love manifested itself in writing long-winded emails to girls I had huge crushes on.
Later in life, I found myself miserably failing my English Lit degree, or at least not quite achieving the grade I wanted. I subsequently took a module in ‘Creative Writing’, got a First (a glittering A) and boosted my overall mark up to a 2:1 (kind of like getting a good, solid B).
My first published full-length novel was back in 2012 - called Rich Picking for Ravens (it’s a humorous romance about a chap/ghost called Midnight Merlot attempting to discover who killed him, and why none of his ex-girlfriends attended his humanist funeral).

What is it about 'chick lit' / 'romance' that appeals to you the most? Do you read other genres?
I’d say my novels That Semicolon Bitch Had to Die, and Couldn’t Love, are flirting around the edges of “Chick Lit”, or maybe “Chick Lit” meets “Dick Lit”?!
The genre appeals to me because, at heart, I’m a hopeless/hopeful romantic. You could even say, I’m a bit of a naive optimist who’s constantly fighting his inner cynic aka still holding out on the noble but simultaneously insane idea I’ll meet “the one”.
Oh, and I read and write many other genres including crime, humour, contemporary, literary, classics, fantasy and sci-fi.

Can you tell us a little about your latest release?

I’ve most recently re-released That Semicolon Bitch Had to Die.
I didn’t feel happy with the first edition so I re-published the work with 13 new chapters, an alternative ending, and a new cover.
The story is about two writers falling in and out love – here’s the blurb:
Frankie, the ellipsis radical, and Abbey, the semicolon stickler, are love's young dream. In this light and dark romance, we follow the loved-up pair "twirting" around the fanciful fringes of London town - having a right ole time of it. Indeed, Frankie couldn't be happier, finally having met a girl far curvier than even the most desirable of punctuation marks.
Cue the eponymous semicolon; a winky blighter destined to royally mess things up; in fact, the semicolon seems intent to mark its territory; all too soon representing much more than the lovers’ stance on punctuation alone.
That Semicolon Bitch Had to Die is a wild and errant love story featuring a most unlikely of threesomes: one where punctuation threatens to become a character itself ... or, to put it another way, when two writers fall in and out of love, punctuation is bound to spill! ... ?!?! ;)

What inspired you to write it?
Well some reviewers on Amazon seem to think That Semicolon Bitch had to Die is autobiographical, which I take as a tremendous compliment. Part of writing fiction is convincing the reader your story is plausible, and so I take their comments as confirmation they found my fiction believable (the central premise, and much of the plot, is wholly invented and fictional, though).
With that said, elements of the story are definitely based on my own opinions and life experiences, and the actual inspiration for having “semicolons” as one of the stumbling blocks, in Abbey and Frankie’s relationship, came about as a result of a conversation with another writer - the writer suggested I could do with using more semicolons in one of my short stories (annoyingly she was right).
From that starting point, I wondered what it would be like to date another writer (I never have), and what pressures it might put on both your writing and relationship.

If it was made into a film, who would you cast as the main characters?
Simon Pegg from the hit sitcom Spaced – although atm he continues to ignore my tweets.
Emma Stone from Crazy, Stupid, Love. – well, assuming she can do a good English accent.

What is your favourite book that made it to the big screen?

The Great Gatsby. I love the book and love the Francis Ford Coppola/Robert Redford version of the film.

What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending. I’d highly recommend it; it’s a great read.

Where do you currently write? And where would be your dream writing location?
I write when I finish my day job, usually at home in bed or at my desk. But since having a smartphone I’m free to write down notes anywhere.
Actually, I sometimes wonder whether I look like a texting fiend when I’m thumbing away in bars – waiting for a date or some pals.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I eat far too may Jaffa Cakes. I consider myself expert level.

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
It has good transport links for getting to the shops and buying Jaffa Cakes.

What inspires you as an author?
Life. The pursuit of happiness... and impressing girls.

Do you have a muse?
Yes! I just haven’t met her yet ;)

Who would play you in the movie about your life?

Meryl Streep. Let’s see how versatile she really is.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
I’m working on a novel about four guys living in London. It’s essentially Sex and the City from a guy’s perspective. I’m also working on a collection of short love stories, and the second book in my Afterlife Crisis Trilogy.

Tell us one thing that's on your bucket list.
To do a North American book tour - and say a big thanks to all the folks over there who support me on Facebook and other social networks. Also to travel the world, especially South America, New Zealand and Fiji.
Of course, as long as I finish writing all the books I plan to write, I’ll be happy.

Tom Conrad
My books are available on Amazon for Kindle: UK & US

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