Hi all! I'm here today with author, Jonathan Gould, who's currently on tour with two books: his comic fantasyFLIDDERBUGS and his fantasy satire, DOODLING.
First of all, I’d like to thank Claire for having me here at The Muse. I have to say she’s pretty game, asking me to talk about the themes in my writing. I reckon I could go on and on and on in quite a lot of detail. But I suspect the readers here don’t really want this to be turned into some sort of English Literature lecture, so I’ll try to go easy on you.
In some ways it’s kind of a difficult question to answer – do I have any messages to convey? The simplest way I could respond to that is by saying, “I do and I don’t”. Ultimately, the main reason I write is to tell a story. I want to engage my readers, to make them want to turn the page and find out what happens next. I want to make them care about the characters. And, as a writer who works in the area of humour, I definitely want to make them laugh. So, whenever I’m considering an idea for my next piece of writing, the first question I always consider is “will this make a good story?”
Having said that, I would definitely be lying if I said there wasn’t more to my writing than just the basic storyline. Maybe referring to it in terms of “messages to convey” isn’t quite right – I don’t want to be “educating” my readers or trying to force my opinions on them. But I definitely do have ideas or themes that underline my stories. As a writer, I prefer to keep them in the background. It’s up to the readers to draw them out or not. If they just enjoy them as fun stories, that’s fine. If they end up drawing completely different ideas out of them, that’s fine too. That’s the beauty of writing. Once your story is in a reader’s hands, it becomes their story, and they can read it in any way they choose.
Anyway, that’s enough general blabbing for now. I probably better talk about the books.
I think, because the books were conceived and written in very different ways, the themes come out in different ways as well. Doodling, as the title suggest, was largely unplanned. It was basically me sitting at a computer making things up as I went, at least in the early stages. Given that the story is about a man who falls off the world, I suppose the main theme revolves around the idea that the world we live in seems to move so fast that it can be a challenge to keep up with everything that’s going on.
One thing I feel quite pleased about with the way the story evolved was how the various characters Neville meets after he’s fallen off - the Toaster People, the Party Couple, the Cyclists, and even the Aimless Girl - most of whom evolved in fairly random ways, can all in some way symbolise the absurd things we do to try and “keep up”. But in the end, I think part of the point of Doodling is that there is no point (like the doodling you do on the edge of a piece of paper). It’s something that hopefully can be enjoyed without too much analysis.
Flidderbugs evolved in a very different way. It was very much planned and structured around a number of central themes. Probably the most significant one is “belief”, particularly in the way it impacts on our identity and on the “tribes” we see ourselves as belonging to. Another important one I could mention is “balance”. I like the sound of that – belief and balance – it has a nice alliterative feel. The imbalance between two belief systems is what drives the drama of the story, and a more literal imbalance precipitates the major climactic events.
A third level that the story can be read is as a political satire. I guess given belief and tribalism are both key aspects of politics, the connection is pretty clear. A few of the things that happen in the story were actually inspired by specific events in Australian politics. But I’ve tried to be even-handed. It’s not casting the blame on either side – it’s more about the political process in general.
Anyway, that’s probably enough of that. Hope I haven’t sounded too much like a teacher – because that’s definitely not why I write. My major goal is to create a fun story that people will want to read, and to make them smile and make them laugh. Whether they find more in them than that or not, I really don’t mind.
Thank-you so much for your time and all the best.
Thank you, Jonathan. I for one laugh every time I think of someone falling off the world. I can't wait to check that one out.
Because we're doing a dual promo, I don't have an excerpt to share with all of you today, but maybe we can convince Jonathan to come back on a Tuesday for a Teaser, and share some? Or maybe two Tuesdays if he'd like. (Hint Hint!)
I do have a Giveaway -- well, Jonathan does!
Jonathan Gould is a Melbourne-based writer and doodler.
He calls his stories "dag-lit" because they're the sort of stories that don't easily fit into the standard genres. Some might think of them as comic fantasies, or modern fairytales for the young and the young-at-heart.
Over the years, his writing has been compared to Douglas Adams, Monty Python, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, the Goons and even Enid Blyton (in a good way).
(Taken from Goodreads)
Learn more about Jonathan at his blog site: Dag-Lit Central!