Welcome to RJ Gould, one of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Richard.
How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
I've been writing for about twelve years. A Street Café Named Desire is my first mainstream published novel; I’ve self-published my fiction for some time.
How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of NWS for a year, A Street Café Named Desire was my submission.
What came first, agent or publisher?
If you do have an agent who is it that represents you?
At present I don’t have an agent though I am reconsidering trying to engage one.
How did you find your publisher?
I spoke with Hazel Cushion, founder of Accent Press, on the phone. As we chatted she Googled my Amazon reviews and dipped into the two novels I had on kindle and liked what she saw (though she made it clear that didn’t include the covers!). I was offered a contract when we met at the 2014 RNA Conference. She was very open and honest about her ambitions for the company and I was delighted to sign up.
Do you have a contract for one book or more?
I had an initial two book contract with options for further novels.
When was your book published?
Tell us something about your book
David and Bridget meet at a twenty-five year school reunion. Neither of them had been part of the in-crowd at school and on the evidence of this event, their social standing hasn’t improved. Disengaged from other party-goers, David develops a teenagesque passion for Bridget. Obstacles ahead of a relationship developing include demanding soon to be ex-wife; deceased husband; tyrannical new boss; encounters with the police; and children struggling to get used to the new state of affairs. In addition to planning how to hitch up with Bridget, David sets out to fulfil his dream of opening an arts café.
What are you currently working on?
Editing has been high on the agenda over recent weeks. I’ve now completed and submitted my third and fourth novels. Jack and Jill went Downhill follows the fortunes of a couple who meet on Freshers Big Party Night at university. They share the joke that their names match those of the nursery rhyme. Down the line, they fail to recognise that their lives mirror the plot. Nothing Man is the story of a man in his mid-fifties who is contemplating suicide. He meets a woman who is his inspiration for starting afresh and it soon becomes evident that he’s anything but a nothing man. I’ve just started writing a novel about a couple who are competing over who can have the most embarrassing mid-life crisis.
What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
It's been a valuable experience for me. In my opinion, it's best to sign up at the point when you think your novel is as good as you can make it rather than submitting a first draft. This maximises the benefit of the comments you receive. I had a novel to submit the day after I signed up and I got a detailed and encouraging review only a few weeks later. Whatever anyone says about your work, do reflect carefully and consider all suggestions, but opinions are subjective and it’s up to you to decide what to adopt and what to disregard.
Thank you, Richard, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.
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