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Mike Gayle Author InterviewMike Gayle Interview

With three successful novels under his belt, Mike Gayle talks about turning thirty, and doing it outside of London.

 

Fiction-Net: Your latest novel, Turning Thirty, is based in your home city of Birmingham, unlike most modern fiction which tends to concentrate on London. Is this something you've wanted to do for a while?

Mike Gayle: Yeah, totally. I think one of the main reasons London gets written about so much is to do with the fact that so many people move there in order to get their writing careers off the ground. The capital is where all the main publishing houses, literary agents and magazine publishers are and on top of that, London has more books shops - and Londoners buy more books than any other region. Quite often setting a book in London is down to elements of geography and economics like that.

I set my first novel, My Legendary Girlfriend, in London because like the main character, I'd moved to London to get my career going. I lived there on and off for three or fours years before I decided I'd had enough and moved back to Brum.

It's always been on my agenda to write novels outside of London and I admire people like my fellow Brummie author Chris McCabe because he did it straight from the start. My next novel will be set in Manchester, which doesn't mean that I won't be going back to London or Birmingham. It's just that I quite fancied a change.


 

Fiction-Net: So do you see yourself moving back to London or elsewhere in the future?

Mike Gayle: There's no way on earth that I'd move back to London. If I had a similar JK Rowling-style success then maybe I'd buy a small £4.5m weekend pad in Mayfair but other than that, no way. I love London - it is a great city but even the people who live there know it's no place to live a proper life.


Fiction-Net: Turning Thirty deals with the main character, Matt Beckford's, 30th birthday. How 'close to home' for you was the character's approach to the event?

Mike Gayle: Very close indeed. I'm twenty-nine and turn thirty in October of this year. Although thirty isn't the end of the line by any means I think there is very much a change in your state of mind. Not that you necessarily feel older but I do think that the way you see the world changes. Turning twenty-nine and the lead up to thirty can rock your world somewhat but I reckon at the end of the day it all depends on what kind of person you are.

 

Turning Thirty by Mike Gayle - Book Review

Fiction-Net: The characters in Turning Thirty often communicate via e-mail. Are you a big internet user?

Mike Gayle: I wouldn't say I'm a huge user. I like to have a bit of a surf at the start of the day just to delay writing the next novel that bit longer.


Fiction-Net: Do you see the internet having any real effect on the publishing industry?

Mike Gayle: To be honest, no. For all the talk of e-books and Stephen King's internetty things and Microsoft's deal with Amazon, I think the book on the written page will always rule. I mean, look, this country grinds to a halt the second we run out of petrol, if something happened to all the batteries in the world your e-books would be useless. A crap argument I grant you but an argument all the same. Long live the proper book!

Mr Commitment by Mike Gayle - Book Review

Fiction-Net: Do you think you'll ever write a sequel to any of your novels? Will we be reading a 'Turning Forty' in a decade?

Mike Gayle: I don't know. Maybe. People do ask me what happens to some of the characters from my books. I like the idea that they're living on in the reader's mind. That said, some of the books do beg a sequel if only to discover if 'happy ever after' really is happy ever after.


Fiction-Net: And finally, what's the best way to approach writing a novel? Planning it in detail beforehand or letting the story develop as it's written. What's your approach?

Mike Gayle: My approach basically stems from my years working as a magazine journalist. I start with an idea. Write loads of notes. Do a skeleton first draft as fast and as carelessly as possible and then I re-write and re-write up to and over twenty times until I'm happy. It might not be the most efficient way to do it but it's the only one I can do.

Read more about Mike Gayle at Fiction-Net. You can also visit the Mike Gayle Website.

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