Describe Balloon Animals in a nutshell?
I’ll do it sitting on my sofa if that’s okay with you. ‘Kay, here we go, in one breath… Balloon Animals is a coming-of-age tale for 30 yr-old, Jonny Rowe, who suffers from identity loss as a result of his family’s lies and secrets. Ironically, Jonny has a degree in genealogy. At his 30th birthday party, Jonny’s American and somewhat senile grandfather (nicknamed 45 because of his constant 45º gait owing to his artificial knee) suffers a massive heart attack while blowing up a birthday balloon for Jonny. 45 had always been a pseudo-father for Jonny, ever since Clinical Dad left that questionable suicide note on the local pier. Feeling responsible for 45’s death, Jonny takes it upon himself to return his grandfather’s living breaths to his hometown in Iowa. His quest becomes a race against time before 45’s balloon deflates, losing 45 to the four winds. During his quest, Jonny discovers that his grandfather wasn’t the man he thought he knew. But this is just half of what’s going on. I cannot do it justice here. (And breathe…)
It sounds like a seriously informed commentary on the human psyche?
What are you doing to promote your novel?
I’ve been doing guest blogs, Author Spotlights, podcast interviews, charity swims etc. I recently did a pre-recorded podcast interview with an interviewer in NYC. Sandy destroyed her home the following day. I call it ‘The Lost Interview’. If God thinks that it’s probably better if people don’t know about my book then he could’ve just sat me down and told me.
A variety of reasons. I’ve had agents come sniffing ‘round me on a few occasions, literally, but never stuck around long enough. Not sure why. Maybe if I’d written a commercial thriller then I might have an agent now. I didn’t even send Balloon Animals to agents because I’ve gotten tired of the process. Ten years of searching for an agent willing to take a chance is tiresome. What I have discovered is that agents have to love the book as a reader not only from a business perspective. They can find me if they want me – they know where I am, I’ve been sending them my home address and telephone number for a decade and an occasional script. Now that Balloon Animals is in the public, well, I can see for myself how well it goes. I will have no regrets either way. This is a time of revolution for writers and now the writer can see for him/herself if the public like what they’ve written – and written exactly what their gut told them to write, both literally and metaphorically. The problem now is that everybody’s a writer and that’s reflected on Kindle that takes the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. However, I’m a firm believer that a book will find its audience.
What sells a book?
I don’t care what anybody says: the book has to be good. After that, promoting it to be visible is the rest of the battle. It’s easy to get lost at a sea of books at Amazon.
Did the ease of publishing on Kindle influence your decision to take the plunge and write a novel?
If you could feel the pain I feel now at having been asked that question. I’ve been writing since I was in the womb, using my umbilical cord as a crude writing tool to mark down my gestation days on my womb wall. Writing has been my morning-cigarette since I can remember. I wrote and published many short stories during my 20’s. With or without Kindle, I will go on scribbling. The advantage of Kindle is that it gives you the chance to offer your work to the public. If they like it, great, if they don’t, not so great, but now you know. Also, I like the fact that agents can’t decide for the public what’s good for them. Don’t misunderstand me, an agent is vital but some of us don’t write in trending markets. Some of us write timeless fiction that, ahem.
Is Balloon Animals timeless?
Anywhere … any time. Balloon Animals is, if I do say so myself, one of those books that readers will go back to every now and again, just to retake that that journey with Jonny Rowe and his grandfather’s ‘ashes’ in his birthday balloon or soul-bubble. Balloon Animals is a character-driven novel and I would like to think that readers might like to meet their old friends again. I certainly feel that way about my characters. They take my hand and lead me down streets I wouldn’t normally travel, sometimes dead-ends and sometimes a hand I prefer not to hold. Ironically, time as a character features heavily in the novel.
Do you have one of those special books in your collection that you re-read every so often?
Yes, Fup by Jim Dodge and John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces. If only Kindle had been around in JKT’s time, it would’ve saved a lot of heartache.
Why comedy, Jonathan?
I’ve got no choice; it just ends up that way. I once tried my hand at a serious thriller. I sent it to a London agent and she asked me, “Is this a thriller parody?” That was the turning-point for me. Divine Comedy or Define Comedy. I write tragic-comedies leaning to the comedy end, just because they turn out that way. It’s not something I aim for. Humour is subjective – people get it or they don’t and it comes in so many forms – which is also why I write in this genre because it’s all I can write. So for me, people love it or hate it. This is why I love Kindle because self-publishing gives readers the choice to decide, not having their minds made up for them by agents. Writing humour is just an organic process, but then again, so is manure. Ah, now I understand the agent thing…
Check out Balloon Animals at http://www.amazon.com/Balloon-Animals-ebook/dp/B009JUBC2W