Interview with John Gardner

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Brighton but moved at an early age to Scotland. Both my parents were Scottish and there was work for my engineering dad near Glasgow. Growing up in Scotland made me straightforward with a tough edge. It also helped develop my sense of humour.
When did you first start writing?
Aged about nine. At school I was fortunate enough to be encouraged by my teacher.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Detective Sergeant Charlie Lefirt is a rangy, no nonsense type of man whose character makes it difficult for his superiors to control him. Charlie is all about the job, a man who loves to solve the puzzle. His marriage is at an end and his career seems destined to follow but his talents are needed by Commander Hugh Royal to set up a new unit to deal with violent sex crimes. It is a disturbing world but Charlie Lefirt was made for it. His new partner, Imogen Harper, thinks he is a Neanderthal but as she watches him work and the results he gets she is forced to change her mind. She too has a past that she wants kept hidden but as her relationship with Lefirt develops his unerring instincts and her desire to be honest with him carry them both towards a better future - together. They make a pact not only to enforce the law but to bring justice into the process.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Simple, no agent or publishing house would take me seriously.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I don't know yet. I'll keep you posted.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting to the end of a story feeling I explored everything I wanted to in the characters and the situations they were in. I always try to keep it honest and inject humour where possible. Getting a wry smile in a tough situation makes it more like real life. Maybe that's my Scottish upbringing.
What do your fans mean to you?
At this point I have no fans. But when I worked in television fans were the lifeblood of every programme. Fans keep you sharp, you know they are always there looking over your shoulder, which helps to keep you honest. A story honestly told, whether people like it or not, is not a bad story.
What are you working on next?
I always have two or three books in development at the same time. Currently, an American P.I. mystery based in London; the story of a young Spanish woman's quest for wealth and the second volume of The Lefirt Diaries. First past the post wins.
Who are your favorite authors?
Carl Hiaasen, Val McDermid, Tom Sharpe, William Shakespeare, John C. Parkins, Agatha Christie, Guy Bellamy and Neil Gaiman. I was introduced to Neil's work by my son, an avid reader.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Fixing things, listening to music, gardening and housework. My wife works and I am the hausfrau. We've always shared the household chores and I do almost all of the cooking, which is something I enjoy. I love any excuse to take photographs and I read but mostly history, psychology, how-to-do books and books on business.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
By genre mainly that way I discover new writers. Writing is a great adventure and my way of embarking on a reading adventure is to decide a genre and jump in.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a fiction about Lewis Carroll I wrote when I was eleven. I saw him as a bit of a deranged character who thoroughly disliked children. I saw a darkness in his work, a disturbed person, so I wrote my story from that point of view. I got a serious telling off by my teacher. So much for the right of artistic expression!
How do you approach cover design?
I try to think of what it would mean to the reader. A picture is worth a thousand words. I think of those words then plan the cover so that it has immediate impact but visual stimulus is such a complicated subject.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was Janet and John. The first book we were given in school to help us learn to read. I was a slow starter and it was a girl class-mate who made me see that those funny shapes on the page were words. With her help it all fell into place within minutes. It was an absolutely fantastic moment that I still remember. It meant I could read. I then learned to write and couldn't stop!
Describe your desk
I bought two pines desks over thirty years ago and they are still with me, battered, bruised and ink stained. There are eight drawers filled with writing and computer paraphernalia.
What is your writing process?
Never easy! Usually a sentence or phrase pops into my head at 2.30 in the morning or as I drive. I repeat it over and over then I sit down, in silence, at my trusty MacBook and let my imagination do its work. As I get into it I will sometimes have music playing as I find music is very inspirational. I read the dialogue out loud and if it does not ring true I change it. Then I try to think of ways of making the point without dialogue but if the dialogue works, it stays.Then I review, rewrite, review, rewrite and so it goes on until the end, which I never plan. It occurs naturally within the character and event limits. I do lots of research and, above all, I try to keep it honest e.g. car doors do not stop bullets and no, you do not walk away from a high-impact helicopter crash. You get buried.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
If I was to be stranded on an island with no hope of rescue for months then it would be the complete works of Shakespeare because his words are as true today as the day they were written. John C. Parkin's, 'fuck it' to help keep me sane. 'A Blot on the Landscape' by Tom Sharpe, to make me laugh and keep my spirits up. Any book by Val McDermid to keep my brain active. She is, by a country mile, the best female writer of male characters. She has our psyche taped! 'Strip Tease' by Carl Hiaasen because it's a rattlingly good, brilliantly written, funny tale.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like comedies with a touch of black humour but books on cars, airplanes, photography, history all entertain me. I read a mixture of things as it is eventually all grist to my writer's mill.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My MacBook. It is the most bombproof tool I have ever owned. My wife has a Kindle, which is a great editing tool that I can use on the beach because of its absolutely brilliant screen.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Well, as this is my first venture into the business, I don't know.
What are your favourite animals.
Horses, cats and dogs although I like almost all animals. Horses are majestic, proud, strong and intelligent and I just love the smell of stables. My cat, a big black and white fur ball, was not just our cat he was one of the family. He would sit between my keyboard and the screen for hours on end watching me type. His death from cancer was a terrible blow. My daughter's adorable dog, Fifi, was my very best companion at our farmhouse. I was her sofa in the evening. Her death was a bitter blow to us all but it is the cycle of life. Neither is forgotten. Our lives were made very much richer by these two wonderful animals and the horses I have ridden with my daughter.
Published 2018-04-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Open Your Eyes
Price: Free! Words: 33,180. Language: British English. Published: April 24, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Politics & Current Affairs » Democracy
The shocking truth of democracy. It is an illusion not a reality. Its purpose is to protect the wealthy. How do governments worldwide that have assumed power never given to them by the electorate get away with it? This book explores the how, where, why and when of it. Some of it will amaze, shock and infuriate you. However, you are not powerless.
The Lefirt Diaries One
Price: Free! Words: 116,160. Language: British English. Published: March 28, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Erotica » Couples Erotica
Detective Sergeant Charlie Lefirt is a rangy, no nonsense loner. A clever, intuitive puzzle solver who rocks too many boats. As a result he is shuffled from pillar to post until his superiors kick him into the revolving door facing out. But Commander Hugh Royal needs his talents to head up a new special unit that takes Charlie into the disturbing world of sexual violence and murder.
Be Happy.
Price: Free! Words: 35,640. Language: British English. Published: October 14, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Stress Management
This book should be in the library of every university, business, school and government office in the English speaking world. Would you like to wake up each morning feeling happy? A day without that horrible feeling of stress? Feeling like life was worth it? You can. Be Happy is your passport to happiness.
Stress - The Profit Killer
Price: Free! Words: 12,010. Language: British English. Published: October 14, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Management
This book should be on the shelves of every English speaking company in the world.
Conspiracy of Fire
Price: Free! Words: 14,300. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
Geoffrey is a struggling middle-aged writer, a man on the edge. His wife walked out with their two children telling him he was a waste of space. But he has a story that might just be what agent Sylvia Cummings is looking for. An outrageous challenge to written history but will she take him seriously? Life has surprises in store for Geoffrey – if he lives.