Norm: Good day Graham and thanks for participating in our interview. Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
Graham: I’m the indie author of ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ and ‘Unspent Time,’ and I’m currently working on a couple of screenplay projects and TV pilots.
Norm: How did you come up with the title of the book?
Graham: The title sums up the way the main character sees the world, even if he’d never admit this to himself. To some extent, we’ve all set up coping mechanisms to deal with certain aspects of the world around us. There’s things we just don’t deal with, or decide to look at a certain way. I wanted to write a character that was completely submerged beneath his coping mechanisms, and see what would happen if, one by one, they fell away.
Norm: How may books have you authored up to now and what do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far in your writing career?
Graham: I’ve written two novels and two story collections. I personally like the collections because they gave me the opportunity to experiment with a large number of different ideas and characters. The Gomez novel, on the other hand, was better received, and was chosen as a Kirkus Discoveries best-lister.
Norm: Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process. As a follow up, why do you write? Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books?
Graham: That’s a duality many writers have to find a home for in their writing. My take on the matter is that you should probably start out with the one that comes most natural to you, and for me that’s intuitive writing. But once I have a good feel for my characters and their world, the voice and atmosphere that I want to use, I take some time to really pick my story apart and see how I can improve it plot-wise, and that is usually a more logical, planning type of activity. The problem with this approach is that you can end up spending a lot of time on rewrites and throwing material out. I still prefer to do it this way, though, because I’m happier with the end result. The most excessive example of this is a novel that I re-wrote into a short story.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Graham: In both cases I’d have to say feedback. You start out writing in a void, which is necessary because as soon as you get feedback, you tend to start self-censoring, even if only on a subconscious level. So I like to write the first draft or first half of a novel without showing anybody anything. I don’t even tell them what I’m working on. After this phase, I go out to get some feedback, because I have huge blind spots. Too much feedback, though, or feedback from the wrong kind of person, and you’ll end up considering taking something out that may just be the heart of your story, so I try to be careful.
Norm: In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of the writing process?
Graham: Taking something out that you love but that just doesn’t work for the story. I have a little trick, though. I never throw anything away. It just goes into a heap of ‘deleted scenes’. So I can trick myself into thinking nothing ever gets cut, it just gets moved.
Norm: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book? Have you ever met someone like Harold?
Graham: I think we all have a little bit of Leverage in us. There are parts of ourselves we hide, there are parts of ourselves we’re proud of, and we’re always struggling to find some kind of balance to be able to survive and be accepted, on some level, by the world around us. But when you dive into a character you can turn this completely inside out and show and well on the hidden parts, and try to find out where they came from.
Norm: What is next for Graham Parke and where can our readers find out more about you and you work?
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors