Short, Sharp Interview: Tom Gillespie

BRIT GRIT, Interviews, noir, Paul D Brazill, short sharp interviews, Tom Gillespie

PDB: Can you pitch PAINTING BY NUMBERS  in 25 words or less?

An unhinged alcoholic lecturer develops an unhealthy obsession with an allegorical painting. But as secrets hidden within the canvas are revealed, his life takes a terrifying turn for the worse. (30 words.. sorry)

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I’m currently reading and thoroughly enjoying A for Angelica by Iain Broome – a tale from the dark side of suburbia (is there a light side?) I’ve also just finished The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi.. I seem to be drawn to claustrophobic stories about obsessive characters and situations. I don’t know what that says about me.. (well I do but I’m not going to tell you) The last film I went to see was the Muppets. I took my daughter as an excuse.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

Is there such a thing? I’ve never met an objective reader, even when people say they are, they are usually the most opinionated.  I think it’s especially hard for us writers to try and be objective about anything writerly.. We are always on our guard, careful not to become over-influenced by style or ideas, or over-critical know-it- alls..or worst of all, driven insane with envy ..har har

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

One of my short stories was recently adapted for the screen by an Indian film maker. To be honest, I think I was just as excited about that as my book launch. I would love to have more of my work made into films and I would love to collaborate on a screenplay. I was brought up in Glasgow which at one time had more cinemas per square mile than any other city in Europe. So my love of film runs deep within my ricket-riddled bones.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

Painting by Numbers required quite a bit of research (even though I was twisting and distorting facts, and making most of it up) . A good lie always requires a semblance of truth.  I’m fortunate to work at the University of Bath and I enlisted the help of a lecturer in the Maths department. We came up with a bogus mathematical theory that might pass something as vaguely believable but is actually complete bullshit. He also helped me to authenticate the language and academic dialogues. I also had to do quite a bit of work on the history of 17th Century Spanish Art and Velazquez in particular. And from that I turned reality on its head. Subverting the truth is fun.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

Social media are very important. My novel is available as an e-book, (paperback out in October) and so spreading the word via facebook twitter, good reads and so on is vital. However, I think that it is important to build a local readership as well.  So readings , talks, wrier groups, guest spots at book clubs and all that malarky are also a vital part of the promotion game. I do worry sometimes that social media promotion is very limited. It can be self defeating and a bit of a turn off for all concerned and affected. It’s also incredibly time consuming and distracting ..when all we want to do is write!

PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?

A second novel is in progress .. And yes, it’s about another obsessive. I have a short story appearing in the Crooked Cat Horror Anthology -Fear- out in October, and I am also working on a collection of short, dark tales.

Tom Gillespie’s website is here.