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Interview: Graham Parke, Author of No Hope for Gomez

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Marking his novel debut, author Graham Parke has taken a bit of time from his hectic schedule to introduce readers to Gomez Porter and his world in No Hope for Gomez! 

First of all, could you tell us a bit about No Hope for Gomez! 

Gomez Porter is many things; a reluctant antiques dealer, an experimental drug trail participant, a stalker-stalker (someone who stalks other stalkers), but now he has become a fugitive as well. Exactly who is after him, he isn't sure. He decides to help the police infiltrate the drug trail, as many of its participants are going missing. But when the chief investigator himself disappears, Gomez decides it's best to strike out on his own. Hounded by a meddling neighbor, a phone-sex salesman (someone who… no idea), and a crazed stalker, he tries to stay alive long enough to discover the truth behind the mysterious events in his life.

Oh yeah, and there's also a nurse with big boobs.

Do you have a favorite excerpt from No Hope for Gomez! Could you share that with us, please?

A reader sent me a list of his favorite quotes the other day. I'd forgotten about most of them, so it was nice to revisit. Here are some samples:

“The stalker, meanwhile, stepped into the road. Didn’t even check for traffic. There wasn’t any, but something told me this was lucky for traffic rather than the stalker.”

“I shouted the perfect words to scare him off. It was just the delivery (and only the delivery) that made me sound like a twelve-year-old girl with pee running down her leg.
I felt dirty and stupid.”

“Mathematicians finally developed a financial model to accurately compare apples and oranges. Any two kinds of fruit can be compared, although guavas still cause minor rounding errors.”

“We played for about half an hour before I realized we were actually playing two different games. What I’d thought of as ludo was actually a game called gin rummy, and what Warren was playing seemed to be a mixture of craps and table tennis.
Once we started playing by one consistent set of rules, though, the fun was really over.”

What was the most fun about writing No Hope for Gomez!

I’d say the most fun was discovering Gomez as a character. He started out as a set of little philosophies. Different ways of looking at the world that had occurred to me over the years. Some of the philosophies were my own, in that I believed in them, others I didn’t necessarily believe in, but I could imagine someone somewhere might. As more ideas and philosophies came together, I began to understand who Gomez was and what made him tick. Once that had happened, writing him came very naturally.

What was the hardest part about writing No Hope for Gomez!

The hardest part is perhaps also the most interesting. It's the lack of consistency. You never know what kind of day you're going to have. And you can't really have an off-day, where you just zone out and put in the hours, waiting for the clock to hit that magic number.

Some days are like lightening shooting through you, and you can hardly keep up with the flow of ideas. Other days you can't help but wonder why you wanted to be an author in the first place; you obviously can't even string two words together. Writing a mere shopping list seems daunting.

One of the tricks, I suppose, is to quickly identify the kind of day you're having. Some days are better for editing and re-writing, others for thinking over plot-points, or just playing games on your Playstation.

What do you want readers to take away from reading No Hope for Gomez!

My ideal reader sits in she shade of a palm-tree, sipping a colorful cocktail, giggling away happily. As soon as he’s finished reading, though, he realizes that his mind is ruined forever. But by then it’s too late.

What kind of research did you do for No Hope for Gomez!

I did a little research on antiques, but not much. The main character inherits his parent's antiques store but doesn't know much about antiques, and isn't very interested in learning.

“Slow morning. Sold some small wood pieces to a young couple for their collection. Think maybe the pieces were part of the counter, as they were attached to it with nails. Couple seemed pleased, so I decided not to worry about it.
Quiet. No more customers. Only sounds were Hicks’ sweeping, my breathing, and a strange squeaking coming from the counter.”

I only needed to learn enough about antiques to know what kinds of things Gomez' customers might say. From that point onward, Gomez would take over.

Do you ever put yourself within your characters?

There’s a very thin line between character and author when you’re writing, if there is one at all. I don’t think you can write a character well before you have a good feel for who he or she is, what makes them tick.

Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.

I really only need there to be a computer, a table, and a chair. All other things in the world are merely distractions when I’m writing. I definitely don't listen to music, nor do I eat. In fact, a good writing day is one where I realize that I've missed breakfast, at six in the evening.

What made you take that leap from "wanting" to be a writer, as opposed to "becoming" a writer? Many talk of being a writer and dip their toes in, but it seems there is often a sort of "push" to bring one over that wall.

You have to realize that it takes a lot of writing to end up with a finished novel. If you're anything like me, it can take up to five novels worth. That's because of all the scenes you try that simply don't work well enough, all the rewriting you do, all the times you think you're done when suddenly a cool new twist occurs to you, one that should go in the beginning and necessitates a massive re-write. You basically want the book to be perfect.

I don't think you can sit down and put in that kind of effort if you just want to ‘have written a book’. You need to enjoy and believe in the entire process. The fact that you might end up with a finished novel, well, that’s just one of the side-effects.

How do you come up with the names of your characters? It almost seems as though, as an author, you have the continuous fun of naming children!

That is a pretty good analogy, and it's probably part answer also. I frequently look up baby names on the net. There are some wonderful sites out there with lists of names, grouped by nationality, era, and so on.

But there are some characters that come to you complete with name. I'm not entirely sure why that is. I can only assume it’s the author's subconscious working away at some dark agenda. I tend stay out of the way when this happens, just let it work out its evil plan.

Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

I read at least four or five books at a time. It wasn't that I was a fast reader, quite the opposite, but I kept moving from book to book as my mood changed. Most of it was SF, some of it comedy. Early favorites were; Bears Discover Fire and End of an Era.

What are you working on right now? Could you give us a taste/teaser (aka excerpt) from your current WIP?

I’m working on a few different projects at the moment. I have some rough outlines of scenes, but I’m still establishing the basics; voice, pace, mood and so on. Here’s something I’ve been chipping away at recently:

“I’m in this club-slash-bar-slash-karaoke place where the music jumps from metal to jazz to a fat guy with no T-Shirt singing Carpenters songs from a screen. And I think the girl screaming in my ear is a vampire.
There’s no such thing, of course, but if there was, she’d be one.
“Do you live in Amsterdam?” she yells over the music.
“I think I’ve seen you around,” she adds.
Standing in darkness, nothing but an occasional flash of the strobes to remind me that I’m still here, I finish my n-th Whisky. It doesn’t give much of a kick, goes down without a fight. I see if I can’t spot Gino in the crowd.
“Let me get that for you,” the girl says. She signals the bartender and new drinks appear. Hers is dark red, the color of blood gone bad. Mine is another cheap scotch with Coke – no ice, traces of lipstick on the rim, a plastic stirrer in the shape of the Bacardi bat.
The music switches back to jazz and now I can finally hear. I catch bits of conversation from around me. Colored spots swing back and forth over the crowd but leave most of us in the dark. Artificial smoke coils up out of nowhere, bringing with it that flat, moist smell.
“You’re kinda cute,” the girl says, for the third time. And I wonder if being almost, but not actually cute is supposed to be a compliment. If her telling me this should mean something to me.
“Do you think I’m cute?” she asks.
It doesn’t enter into it. She’s a creature of the night. A lost soul. Whether she’s cute is entirely beside the point. Different rules apply to the undead.
I shrug. Sip my drink.”

What are you reading right now?

I have quite a stack. Somewhere at the top are Oceanic, Bright Shiny Morning, Planet of Mystery. Under it are about eight or so books that I keep putting down far too easily.

If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I’d have lunch with myself from the future. Then I’d steal some of his ideas. He wouldn’t mind, I don’t think. Or at least, he will not have minded before…

What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?

I expect I’ll continue writing, and hopefully reach a very diverse audience. I have a number of ideas stacked up and it would be nice to have the time and energy to work them all out to satisfaction.

Is there anything you would like add?

I’ll be giving away signed copies of a little Gomez novella. It’s not available anywhere else and I’ll be sending copies off to readers periodically from my forum. You can get there through my website.

Where can readers get in touch with you?

I’m setting up a website and Gomez is dabbling a bit with Facebook  and Twitter.

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