I read and reviewed Joni Dee‘s book And the Wolf Shall Dwell last week. You can read my review here. I was fortunate enough to meet Joni while asking BookGobbler for some technical assistance. From there, getting a Q&A was simple! You’ll learn more about The Wolf and about Joni himself!
- What is the inspiration behind And the Wolf Shall Dwell?
First of all, let me start by thanking you for having me for your Q&A Brittany.
I’ve tried writing a novel twice before I finally started “And the Wolf Shall Dwell”. It simply never came out like I wanted it to. I think for starts, moving to London had inspired me. This city has so much tradition and history, which made it extremely hard for me to disregard and not write something about it. In a sense, all the espionage thrillers that I’m so fond of, somehow begin and end in London (le Carré’s being the most prominent for me), and whenever I had a dry period, I started exploring this magnificent city which in return gave me inspiration.
- How did you sit down to begin this book? I know I’ve tried several times to write a book, but it just doesn’t come out!
“The Wolf’s” starting scene just hit me on a cold London morning, while on my way to work, just like John. I tried at least two different books and genres before this one and ended throwing them to the bin – so don’t give up quite yet!
I got stuck a few times during the writing process, however I had a few scenes that I knew simply had to be in the book. I uploaded the draft of chapters 1-3 to an online writing website, and the feedback was amazing – which totally gave me the ego boost I needed. When I had about two thirds of the puzzle the book started writing itself.
- How long did it take you to write The Wolf?
Try five years… (Chuckles). But I stopped, continued, had two kids in the process… So, you can say that life was quite consuming. But once I decided this is it, I gave it a big push over the course of 2016, and started writing literally everywhere: tube commutes, work (don’t tell my boss!), days out with the kids, etc. I even went far and sat with the laptop during one of my friends’ daughter’s sixth birthday party! Not an optimal writing environment to say the least!
- Do you see more of yourself in John or Grey?
Hmmmm (thinking hard) – this is an intriguing and complex question, I’ll give you that. I think there’s a lot of me in both to be frank. I’m a foreigner living and working in the City of London in finance, while not a programmer I am very good with computers, and I’m strikingly handsome (laughs). But that is where the similarity lines between me and John end. I’d like to think that we don’t share his “adorable” naivety and flakiness or carefree attitude that dissolves as “the Wolf” progresses. In a sense, I enjoyed giving John that needed “slap in the face”.
In all honesty, I am much more like Grey. I’m meticulous, I like things orderly and I have my routine and defined concepts of what’s right and proper, and what’s wrong. I served in the Army’s Military Intelligence corps, so I also share with Grey his attention to details and some secret knowledge, which gives us an edge (albeit unnerving) over “civilians”. My Commanding Officer in the army used to say that “I never leave anything to chance”. I like that about Grey and about myself. I’m much younger than him though!
- Have you ever had reader’s block? What book got you out of it?
I always have prolonged periods when I can’t seem to read anything. It comes and goes. I tend to look for a classic when this happens: An old Le Carré, or re-read something out of the scope of my own writing genre such as “Nine Princes in Amber” by Roger Zelazny, or “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglass Adams – a big and ominous novel assembly, which I am guaranteed to enjoy.
The last time this happened to me, it was Derek Raymond’s noir “Factory” series that made it all right. It starts with “He died with his eyes open” and I just couldn’t stop reading the entire series. Since it takes place in eighties’ London, It also influenced my novel and I began a series of dark London descriptive scenes which I decided to mellow down before handing in the manuscript. These (Raymond’s “Factory” series books) are extremely gory crime thrillers which I strongly recommend.
- You are the founder of Book Gobbler, what made you start this website?
BookGobbler is an initiative that I started after realizing how hard it is to get your work reviewed and build readership unless you have a big traditional publisher behind you. There are other services, but generally they cost a few good hundreds of dollars to list a book in, for a limited period of time.
BookGobbler is trying to give a chance to everyone. It’s free to read and it’s free to list books, and you are almost guaranteed reviews and exposure. We are committed to keeping a minimum of 20% self-published authors – so that it will never become a playing-ground for big publishers only.
It is set out to address another issue which I’ve encountered: biased reviewers. I found a lot of review blogs which charge for favourable review or require some sort of summary. This is a terrible practice which must end.
So, I came up with BookGobbler: we publish honest reviews, written by real readers, we give free books, we don’t charge and we even raffle paperbacks – everybody wins!
- What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I used to think that it was the “Night Manager” – by John le Carré, and then they went ahead and turned it into a multimillion BBC miniseries – LOL. So… I’ll go with “the Plot Against America” by Philip Roth. Not one if his better-known work, and probably in the shadow of “Portnoy’s Complaint” or Pulitzer Prize winner “American Pastoral”. “The Plot Against America” is a frighteningly realistic novel which offers a different possibility in American history, a ‘what if’ situation, in which FDR loses the 1940 elections to the Nazi sympathizer celeb-aviator Charles Lindbergh. As a result America spirals into extreme anti-Semitism and stays out of WW2. If you read this novel – you wouldn’t even think once this is a farfetched scenario. A must read to anyone who doesn’t outright condemns extremism and fascism.
- Should we be expecting another John and Grey adventure?
Yes! I can’t promise but I am working on another Grey and John standalone. I have only about 50 pages so far, of a very messy outline, and still no idea how the story ends. The scheme is much less political than the first book, and focuses on ISIS and terror, in the shadow of right-wing extremism in Europe. Grey is in London and Cornwall with the lovely miss Katie Jones (which regretfully didn’t get enough “screen time” in “the Wolf”) while John is in Paris, again the wrong guy in the wrong place. That’s all I’ll reveal.
- What are the top three books that have had the biggest impact on you personally?
- A Perfect Spy by John le Carré – this is THE manual of how to write a spy thriller, in my opinion.
- Taipan by James Clavell – An epic tale, historically accurate, beautiful Hong Kong, who needs more, right?
- A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz – Perfect autobiographical tale of one of the greatest (underestimated) authors of our time.
- What is your favorite café in London?
LOL – La Bottega in Lower Sloan Street, Chelsea, where Grey flips the wooden table over! Wasn’t that obvious?
- What would be your current recommendation on Book Gobbler?
I can’t… it’s like asking me to pick my favourite child. There are so many fantastic books there for free, from authors that need your attention – just sign up and grab them… it’s that simple!
Many thanks for having me on!