I am delighted to be part of the book tour, promoting the new book by Paul Matthews – We Have Lost The Coffee.
London, 2045. Three months into the Coffee Wars and Britain’s caffeine supplies are at critical levels. Brits are drinking even more tea than usual, keeping a stiff upper lip and praying for an end to it all.
A secret government coffee stockpile promises to save the day … but then mysteriously disappears overnight.
One man is asked to unravel the missing-coffee mystery. Hs name is Pond. Howie Pond. And he’s in desperate need of a triple espresso. Meanwhile, his journalist wife, Britt, is hunting royal fugitive, Emma Windsor, on the streets of the capital.
Can Howie save the British Republic from caffeine-starved chaos? Will the runaway royal be found? And just what will desperate coffee drinkers do for their caffeine fix? Find out, in Paul Mathews’ latest comedy adventure set in the Britain of the future …
About the author:
Paul Mathews is a 40-something British guy who’s given up his 9-to-5 job in London to become a full-time comedy novelist. Why did he make this bold step? Well, he’d had enough of crazy managers and uncooperative printers. So one afternoon, after nearly 20 years working at the heart of the British Government, he shut down his computer, deleted all his emails and escaped the office – never to return. (Okay, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that, but he is a fiction writer, so please cut him a little slack.)
His two decades working as a Government press officer gave him an invaluable insight into all the key elements of modern government: bureaucracy, bungling, buffoonery, buck-passing and other things that don’t begin with the letter ‘b’ – such as politicians with huge egos and very little talent. He’s now putting that knowledge to use by writing about a British Government of the future – where, believe it or not, the politicians are even bigger idiots than the current lot.
Before becoming a PR guy, he was an accountant. But he doesn’t like to talk about that. And going back further, he went to Cambridge University and studied philosophy. Despite thousands of hours of thoughtful contemplation, he still hasn’t worked out how that happened. The highlight of his university years was receiving a £300 travel grant to visit Prague and ‘study philosophy’. It was a trip which ignited his love of Eastern Europe where he spends a lot of time writing and drinking black beer.
Other interests include wearing sunglasses and having his photograph taken. Visit his website for more info on this (allegedly) humorous man: www.iamthe.website (less)
Author Interview – Paul Mathews
How important are the names in your book? Do you choose that the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you can recommend?
‘What’s in a name?’ to quote a slightly more famous writer than me. Well, quite a lot, if you’re an author!
For example, I might use a name to communicate social standing, such as royal renegades Nelson and Horatio Windsor. For other individuals, I try and match them with their character – for example, if someone prefers ‘Howie’ to ‘Howard’, it suggests a person with a more casual attitude to life; while a Russian called Maxim suggests a slightly more sinister personality (apologies if any Russians are reading this!).
Names can also offer possibilities for humour – my president in the second and third books is called Zayn Winner and he revels in being ‘a Winner’ (his autobiography is called Once a Winner, Always a Winner). Or they can offer the potential for memorable nicknames – the president in my first novel was called Jan Polak but he was often referred to as ‘Jan the man’. (In fact, I used to work with a guy called Jan whose parents were Polish, and he was often called this!)
Probably the strangest ‘name’ in my novels is my main female character’s American alter ego, Pellie Cann. The choice of name was forced on the character when she had to think of an alias, on-the-spot, in St James’ Park – where London’s real-life pelicans live. (The same birds go missing in my second novel, We Have Lost the Pelicans, although Pellie Cann is not the one trying to find them – that would be too confusing!)
Many of my characters are foreign. In my latest book there’s a Brazilian head of security, Colombian janitor, French president and others. In those cases, I try and find a name that has an underlying meaning in that country’s language. For example, my female Brazilian character is called Sabrina Lobo and she is very attracted to my main character, Howie – and she isn’t afraid to show it. ‘Lobo’ means ‘wolf’ in Portuguese …with Howie playing the role of the sheep!
And resources? Google, of course!
Are you a plotter or pantster?
I’m most definitely a plotter. Although, being a full-on ‘pantster’ sounds a lot more exciting. Maybe I’ll give it a go sometime!
Before I start writing a novel, I plot every chapter and the key actions within it. However, things never turn out quite how you planned. And some ideas won’t come to you until you’ve started writing. That’s why it’s best not to be too prescriptive about what’s in each chapter. Sometimes I just decide on a whim to introduce a new character or situation and, as long as it fits in with the overall story, it goes in the novel. So there is a little bit of a pantster inside me.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them if they are particularly good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
Yes, I read every review. I think ignoring them is like putting your hands over your ears when someone is talking to you. Over time, they give you clues to areas you might need to improve (for example, I reduced the length and increased the pace for my second and subsequent novels).
My reviews have taught me that humour is very subjective. British readers seem to get my brand of tongue-in-cheek British satire and all my UK reviews have been very positive. However, I sell a lot of books in the US, and not everyone understands my comedy style across the Atlantic. Just today, one reviewer claimed my first book was one of the best British satire books they’d read in recent years – five stars. Hours later I got one-star review from someone who claimed it wasn’t funny …!
I don’t make any comment on them. I think they speak for themselves. In fact, bad reviews often say more about the reviewer than the book …!
What is your least favourite part of the writing/publishing process?
Plotting can be quite laborious – it’s a lot less fun than writing, believe me. I plotted my latest book, We Have Lost the Coffee, in about two weeks. I’ve already plotted book four – and it took just three days. I must be getting the hang of this writing lark.
Also, having to read the draft novel so many times can get tedious – especially if you don’t have a decent break between proofreads. By the time I’d read We Have Lost the President ten times, my brain had turned to mush and it had stopped being helpful!
What are your favourite and least favourite types of scenes to write?
The final scene is my favourite – because it means I’m almost at the end of another novel. And I prefer writing scenes with two main characters where the dialogue and action can flow quicker – they’re also quicker to write, which can mean an early finish some days!
Least favourite scenes? I don’t have any. Writing should always be fun!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
The ability to spot a typo from a hundred metres …!
Or maybe to bring my characters to life, so I could have a chat with all of them. In a weird kind of way, they do feel a bit like friends. I would be interested to hear their views of the books. Perhaps they enjoyed them? Or maybe they feel I’ve been unkind to them? On second thoughts, it might be best not to go there!