Ever fancied becoming a writer? How about writing an eye-wateringly accurate expose of your office life… under a pseudonym of course. That’s exactly what one local writer’s done, and he’s just had his book, The Kit Bag published as a Kindle download on Amazon. Will Thurmann* met up with Gallery under deep cover (well, actually at an unnamed coffee shop) to spill the beans about his new book and the benefits of e-publishing.
So, lots of us have come home after a particularly crazy day at the office and the thought – I could write a book about all this – might have crossed the mind. But you actually did! How hard was it?
People have a romantic image of writers, sitting at a desk and getting inspired, but the reality isn’t like that. It’s a labour. I enjoy the initial writing when the ideas are fizzing around in your brain, but that’s the raw side of it. Going back and rewriting is when it gets painful and really like hard work. And everyone writes differently. Some people plan every chapter out in advance, but I prefer to let the book take me where it wants. With The Kit Bag, a lot of it grew and developed as I was writing. Sometimes a character will go and do something I wouldn’t have planned for him to do, something that’s come into my head during the day.
It’s written in the first person and the protagonist, Nathan works in the finance industry – as do you. Is it autobiographical – and how much of a challenge was it to write about your own experiences?
It’s not meant to be autobiographical but it’s inevitable that a writer will draw on his or her own experiences. So, yes, to a large extent, I drew on experiences I’ve had in life and as the book unfolded, I tried to imagine what I would do if faced with the circumstances that Nathan faces.
Do you think people will recognize themselves…?
Perhaps bits of themselves! The characters are an amalgamation of people I’ve worked with and things I’ve seen going on. And even though it’s set in Jersey, I like to think it has a global appeal – offices are the same all over aren’t they?
How long did it take you to write
The Kit Bag?
Three to six months for the first draft and then another year to rewrite it. I could have gone on rewriting, but eventually you just have to let it be. It’s about striking the balance between fresh and overworked.
Who are you inspired by?
One of the first ‘grown-up’ books I read when I was young was The Savage Day by Jack Higgins. I remember reading it and thinking I’d like to write like that one day. Then there are writers like John Steinbeck. I read East of Eden the other year, and his sentence construction is amazing. In terms of modern writers, it would have to be Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. To produce an emotion in your readers, to make them feel they can connect with the book is incredible.
What would you say to people who think they’ve got a book in them?
Without being harsh, for about 80% of those who say they’ve got a book in them, that’s probably where it should stay. But if people think they can write, they should try it (see Will’s tips for budding writers).
The Kit Bag is available as a Kindle download on Amazon. Are e-books the answer for writers these days?
I think the e-book phenomenon will open up the market in the same way as iTunes has done for music. I’ve always liked books but I’m a big fan of my Kindle. Space is limited. People don’t have bookshelves any more – we put everything on iPods or Kindles. Kindles are ideal when you’re going away on holiday. Before my Kindle, I once took five books on a skiing holiday and got charged £50 for excess baggage!