Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Author interview no.576 with novelist, philosopher and writer for children Will Buckingham (revisited)


Back in December 2012, I interviewed author Will Buckingham for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the five hundred and seventy-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with novelist, philosopher and writer for children (and translator!) Will Buckingham. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Will. Please tell us something about yourself.
WillWill: Hello, and thanks for having me on your blog. I’m a writer interested in fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature. My second novel, The Descent of the Lyre (Roman Books) was published in August 2012. I also write for children (The Snorgh and the Sailor, Alison Green Books, 2012), and philosophy. These days, I’m based in Leicester, slap-bang in the middle of England, although I was brought up in Norfolk and in the years in between I’ve moved round a fair amount.
Morgen: You’re not far from me, about five junctions up the M1… and I was born just seven junctions further south. :) How did you come to be a writer?
cargo feverWill: Writing is something that has crept up on me. I read quite a lot whilst I was a teenager, and then I became an art student, which gave me plenty of time and very little to do with it. I studied art for four years, and most of the time I spent reading books, drinking coffee, and lounging around in paint-smeared overalls trying to look artistic. I didn’t get much painting done, but I read a vast number of books. Then several things happened. I graduated in 1994, and in the same year I won second prize in the Independent newspaper travel writing competition, for a short piece about having my bike hijacked by a fervently proselytising Christian in Pakistan. Later that year I went off to Indonesia, and it was there that I decided I would start writing seriously. My experiences in Indonesia later turned into my first novel, Cargo Fever (Tindal Street Press, 2007).
Morgen: I read a lot as a teenager too and blame Stephen King for me wearing glasses (his latest book / torch / duvet). I didn’t start writing until 2005 when it suddenly dawned on me (via an evening class) who thrilling it was to write fiction. You write so many things, what genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Will: At heart, I am a storyteller; but the kinds of things that I write tend to move between genres. So I sometimes stray into writing philosophy and also into writing for children. What I’m interested can be boiled down to two main things: philosophical stories, and story-like philosophies. I’m always doing one or the other.
Morgen: :) What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Will: I have published two novels, The Descent of the Lyre, which is about music and myth in Bulgaria, and Cargo Fever, which is about the outer islands of Indonesia. I have also written popular philosophy (Introducing Happiness, Icon Books 2012), decidedly unpopular philosophy (Finding Our Sea-Legs, Kingston University Press, Levinas, Storytelling and Anti-storytelling, Bloomsbury), and for children (The Snorgh and the Sailor, mentioned ealier). I have only once written under a pseudonym, Lupe Varos, when I wanted to fill a hole in a literary magazine I was writing and, being short of good material for that particular edition, I wrote a story, invented an author, and published it.
Morgen: I love that, and why not? If we can’t be creative, who can? Have you self-published? If so, what led to you going your own way?
Will: Other than the story I published written by Lupe Varos, no. I know some people who self publish very successfully indeed, and I am in awe of their energy, industry and mastery of the whole complex set of processes from writing to publication. To self-publish well is still a very, very difficult thing.
Morgen: It is. I’m learning. One of the success stories is Amanda Hocking and one of her books came into the British Red Cross shop I volunteer at. :) Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
the descent of the lyreWill: Only one of my books so far is published as an eBook, and that is my little guide to the philosophies of happiness called Introducing Happiness. I’m hoping that my second novel, The Descent of the Lyre will be out as an eBook in 2013. I don’t have an eBook reader myself at the moment, although I spend so much of my life lugging around paper books that I have seriously considered it.
Morgen: They are great. I switch between paperback and electronic. I’ve just finished (and loved) Julie Cohen’s The Black Sheep (free eShort) and am part-way through my second read of Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader (in paperback) for a book group I belong to. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, whom would you have as the leading actor/s?
Will: The book about which I’m happiest as a writer is The Descent of the Lyre. It was a very long time in the making and I think that it is perhaps one of the best-crafted things that I have written. Even though it was published five years ago now, I still have a soft spot for Cargo Fever.
I can’t see the Lyre made into a film, but if Cargo Fever was, I think it would make a pretty entertaining movie. I’d like Martin Freeman to play Sam Rivers and Cate Blanchett to play Aletheia Groeber, so if you have either of their phone numbers, do pass them on to me. As for my favourite character, this must come from my first children’s book, The Snorgh and the Sailor. The Snorgh is so fabulously damp-furred and grumpy, and the way that illustrator Thomas Docherty has brought him to life is marvellous.
Morgen: I don’t sadly, but either of them wrote I’d certainly invite them for an interview. :) Which author(s) would you compare your writing to?
Will: Comparison is always a risky business. But some authors I love are Tove Jansson, Russell Hoban, Italo Calvino, the philosopher Michel Serres, Jeannette Winterson, Murakami… and so it goes on. I wouldn’t dare compare myself to any of these, but I love them all.
Morgen: It was the philosopher Nigel Warburton who inspired me to start this blog (he has 1,000+ hits to his blog a day – my best day was 497 so I’m half-way there). :) I have Italo’s book ‘Marcovaldo’ and am only part-way through (I do tend to have a few books on the go) but am enjoying it so far. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Will: The usual thing is that the publisher sends you a cover and says, ‘Do you like it?’ in such a way that you know the expected answer is ‘Yes.’ I have had some input into some of my book covers, but generally not very much. I always judge a book by its cover – what else is there to go on? So it is really quite important, I think.
Morgen: Absolutely. I’m sure there have been some great books in awful covers but they certainly don’t inspire me. I love yours though, especially Snorgh. :) What are you working on at the moment / next?
Will: I’m busy with a number of projects. There’s a companion novel to The Descent of the Lyre that picks up on some of the themes of the earlier book, in particular the whole question of the relationship between music and myth. There’s also a thing I’ve been busy with for years that sits between fiction and non-fiction, and that I am thinking of as a ‘novel of sorts’. It’s tied up with my interests in China and Chinese culture. I don’t know precisely in what kind of form this will see the light of day, but I’m hugely enjoying the writing. I’m also working on a children’s book for eight to ten year olds about dogs in space and the theory of relativity, as well as another picture book. And on the side I’m translating some poems from Chinese, but this is mainly for the sheer fun of it.
Morgen: Wow. I have a poetry section (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/post-weekend-poetry) if you ever feel like sharing any of your own. Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Will: I’m a bit erratic in terms of when I write, in part out of necessity, having a full-time university teaching job; but I tend to always have several projects on the go. It’s not usually a problem actually getting down to work when I can find the time, although I can on occasion indulge in procrastibaking: I mean to sit down to write, and I discover I have instead made a batch of shortbread, for example. As for writer’s block, it’s not something that I often suffer from. I did in the past, but for me writer’s block has always been more a matter of indecision, a matter of not knowing whether this or that idea is the ‘right’ one. Since giving up on this notion of the ‘right’ idea, I find I no longer suffer from writer’s block. There is, I very much suspect, no such thing as the ‘right’ idea. There are just ideas, some of which are better and some of which are worse. And often you only find out which is which by just taking one, more or less at random, and following along to see where it leads.
Morgen: “procrastibaking” I love it. :) Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Will: Both. There’s a kind of back-and-forth dialogue for me between careful plotting and research on the one hand, and on the other hand simply going with ideas to see where they end up. As I writer, I always feel as if I’m making my way through a kind of half-light in which clarity and confusion are mingled.
Morgen: But hopefully the clarity overtakes the confusion. I feel like that with my novels. I’ve just written the first (not complete) first draft of my sixth. Short stories are my comfort zone because they come out pretty much fully-formed but I have to do several edits (as it should be, I think) of the novels. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Will: There is no one method. I prefer to cook characters slowly, to allow their flavours to mature. Often characters emerge out of the world that I am writing about, rather than the world being a stage in which I can set down pre-formed characters. I sometimes do character sketches and things like that, but it is often in the writing, in the language itself, that characters take shape for me.
Morgen: One of my favourite aspects of writing is when they take over. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Will: More and more. I edit so much more than I ever used to, and I think that editing is absolutely essential. I can be quite obsessive and particular when it comes to editing, and there is something bracing about taking a work that is almost there and pushing it as far as it will go.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Will: For The Descent of the Lyre I did a great deal of research. I made a few trips to Bulgaria between 2005 and 2007, the last of these being a fairly intensive research trip over a period of two months. I had some Arts Council funding for this trip, which helped towards costs, as well as buying me a nice pair of boots that were very handy for hiking around Bulgarian mountains. I spent time burrowing in archives and museums and things like that, and much of this was invaluable; but it was actually travelling in Bulgaria, spending time getting to grips with the language and the culture, making friends, immersing myself in the landscape and the music and the feel of the place, that made all the difference. For me, so much of what I do is about that most intangible of things that is mood. Immersing yourself in a place opens up new possibilities for feeling and sensing.
For me, research is not something that I do only in the initial stages of a project. I start out with research and continue researching until the book is ready to go to the publisher’s. For me, writing is itself a kind of investigation of the world, a kind of research.
Morgen: I write (type) much quicker on the computer so that’s been the favoured method for the novels (although I have written sections while walking the dog round the park) so I have the internet to hand whenever I need something, or I put ‘MORE HERE’ if something’s missing and I’m mid-flow. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Will: The Lyre begins and ends in the second person, with most of the book being in the third person. I rather like the second person, although it’s a rare writer who can sustain it. Bill Broady does a good job in Swimmer, and Calvino has a great second person opening in his book If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. Generally, however, I tend to gravitate towards third person. I like to be able to move between perspectives, and I also like the fact that in the third person, you can make it obvious that what you are up to is telling a story. For me, a story is not a window through which you can look to see the world, but something that is told, something that is spun of half-truths and artifice. And writing in the third person allows me to make this clear.
Morgen: Second person is my favourite point of view but even I don’t write long pieces in it. My freebie (on Smashwords) eShort The Dark Side is one of my longest at c.1,000 words. :) Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Will: I don’t write much poetry, although as I mentioned above, I am having fun doing some translations from the Chinese at the moment. As a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, I wonder sometimes about the distinction between ‘fiction’ and ‘non-fiction’ that you find in the world of prose. As Nicholson Baker points out in his novel, The Anthologist, this is a distinction that doesn’t occur in poetry. A poem is just a poem. A piece of prose, on the other hand, has to sit in one corner of the bookshop or another, depending on whether it claims to be ‘true’ or not. When you think about it, this is a very strange stage of affairs.
Morgen: I’d not thought about it but now you mention it… Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Will: I have more work that is stashed away in old trunks and things than work that is actually published, and I’m happy with this. There are several early novels that will never see the light of day, and this is exactly as it should be. A lot of writing is just a matter of practice. I’m glad that I wrote those early books. They were good training. Some of them I’m really quite fond of. But that’s no reason to foist them on the rest of the world.
Morgen: I often say writing is about practice, and perhaps you can see how the early pieces can be improved, although it sounds as if you have plenty of material to keep you going. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Will: Statistically, the odds for accumulating rejections are high. Each piece of work can be rejected an infinity of times, but in general it can be accepted only once. I try to remind myself of this when I get those letters saying things like, ‘Given the difficulties of the current market…’ And so, like many writers, I get a lot of rejections. But this can be useful, of course: those writers who are so well known that nobody rejects them run the risk of finding that their weakest pieces end up published as a matter of course, because nobody dares to turn them down.
One practical way I deal with rejections is by sending a lot of work out in parallel. If I have several pieces out there, then if one is turned down, there’s always the chance that another may hit the spot elsewhere. As I send quite a lot of work out, of necessity I’m quite organised. I have a database where I keep obsessive records of what I send out, to whom, and when; and I can call up details of who has rejected me in the past, who has accepted me, where I have sent this or that piece of work. I use Bento on my Mac as a database, and it does the job passably well.
Morgen: I have a database too and it’s the only way I keep track (although I’m rubbish at submitting anything!). I know writers who have sent the same thing out twice and then prayed that they’re not both accepted. Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
snorghWill: A long time ago, I entered the Yorkshire Open Poetry Competition. This must have been in 1995 or thereabouts, and I was, I think, a runner-up. In general, however, I avoid competitions for the same reason that I avoid playing Monopoly: I’m fearsomely competitive, but find competitiveness somewhat painful. When I was a child and used to play Monopoly, I sometimes used to cry when I didn’t win. It was all very undignified. Anyway, I don’t really believe in the notion of the ‘one best poem’ or ‘one best novel’ or anything like that, so I’m a bit sceptical when it comes to competitions and prizes. Having said that, recently, my children’s book, The Snorgh and the Sailor has been longlisted and shortlisted for a couple of awards. This is pleasing, but I’m trying not to get too tangled up in all the award hoopla.
Morgen: I’m competitive too, although themed competitions invariably get me writing something new so I still have it if it doesn’t get anywhere. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Will: I am very lucky to have an excellent agent, and over more than a decade she has been a huge help: not just in placing work, but also in offering encouragement and giving exceptionally sharp critical feedback on my writing. I don’t, however, think an agent is essential. I’m fortunate to have an agent who I click with; but I know many writers who flourish without agents, and some writers who have agents with whom they seem to exist in a relationship of perpetual antagonism and frustration. Such relationships cannot last, and an agent who doesn’t truly care about your work is worse than no agent at all.
Morgen: I agree and have had reports of both here in the interviews. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Will: I’m a curious kind of ‘brand’ because the writing I do is really quite diverse. I don’t necessarily expect readers of my children’s book to read my philosophy monographs, and vice versa. Nevertheless, somehow – and despite everything – it all hangs together, and I like the freedom of working in different ways. Being too much of a ‘brand’ can be a kind of imprisonment, as I think J. K. Rowling is finding out with her adult novel. As for marketing, I enjoy getting out there, doing events and meeting readers and potential readers. But I resist thinking of what I produce as being something that can be reduced merely to a ‘product’ that can be marketed and branded. One of the pleasures of writing is that it is a way of making real human connections. Is this marketing? I suspect it is more than that.
Morgen: I started off as writing most genres (I write mostly crime these days, and even those who aren’t usually have a dead body in them somewhere) and if you’re known for that then I think you can easily keep the same name. I know from doing this blog how much work it takes to build up that brand, which I guess is why writers like Joanna Trollope have books with ‘Joanna Trollope writing as Caroline Harvey’ on them. As for JK Rowling, it's a shame that her new book has received such low reviews, unless it really is a bad book (I refuse to spend £15 on the eBook) but the Goodreads voters made her their top Fiction book of 2012 and I know they're a tough crowd. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Will: What I love most is the sense of exploration. Writing is, for me, a way of finding out new things, exploring new possibilities, making new connections. As for my least favourite aspect, having sat in front of this question for ten minutes, wondering what I really have to complain about, I have to conclude that it is genuinely hard to say.
Morgen: My favourites the writing process but I’m at home full time (my two lodgers pay for what would have been my day job) so even if I had a bad day I can’t complain. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Will: The main things, I think, are these. Firstly, writing is often about rewriting. Nothing particularly original there. But sustained, thoughtful, repeated and committed rewriting is essential for a writer. Secondly, it helps to take the long-term view of your writing career – decades rather than years. And thirdly, if you do not love reading at least as much as (if not more than) you love writing, then think about doing something else.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Will: That’s a hard question to answer. Some of my favourite writers might turn out to be tiresome company, so I might prefer to keep them at arm’s length. Off the top of my head, the singer Paul Robeson would be a fascinating dinner guest, as much for his political views, his fascinating life-story and his fearsome intellect as for the fact that we might persuade him to engage in a spot of singing after dinner. Who else? Can I have Jeanette Winterson? She would be brilliantly provocative and engaging, and she runs an organic delicatessen (or she did, at least), so she might bring something nice along to contribute to the dinner. That leaves a third person. What about the eighth century Chinese poet, Li Bai, who would bring wine with him and compose verses to the moon, and generally make the party go with a swing? I think that Paul, Jeanette and Li Bai would probably get on just fine. As for cooking, I’m less sure, although I think that a treacle tart would have to be involved. I’m not a bad pastry cook, and I make a fairly impressive treacle tart.
Morgen: Absolutely you can have Jeanette Winterson. I think she’d be great. I’d love to gatecrash if you had treacle tart. :) If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Will: With my philosophical hat on, I’d have to ask: would I know that I was reliving the day? If I knew that the day was being relived, then any day might end up being a claustrophobic nightmare. If I didn’t know, on the other hand, then I’m not sure it would matter to me that I was living it over and over: it would just be an ordinary day.
But, then again, perhaps the idea of reliving a day over and over as claustrophobia is too gloomy an assessment. Nietzsche talks about the idea of eternal recurrence as the most life-affirming idea possible. In giving fleeting moments all the weight of forever, you take them seriously and are able to take serious delight in them. Perhaps a good Nietzschean should say that any day would do and would be equally glorious to live on constant repeat. I don’t know. But, for me, I’m quite happy with time’s arrow pointing in only one direction.
Morgen: I am, although it points a little too quickly for my liking, but that’s computers for you; sit down you're your breakfast cup of tea and the next thing you know it’s getting dark. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Will: This would have to be the Chinese philosopher Mencius. ‘Guan shui you shu’, or ‘there is an art to looking at water.’ Writing novels is, in one respect, similar to looking at water, what with all that shifting between different focal lengths.
Morgen: I can see now why you would want to translate Chinese poetry. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Will: I teach creative writing, so I am often involved in editing, giving feedback, running classes, organising events and that kind of thing. It’s a good thing to do, not least because you don’t work with students when you teach creative writing, you work with human beings.
Morgen: You do and they want to be there. :) What do you do when you’re not writing?
Will: I play classical guitar, and am getting to grips with jazz and blues piano. If you gave me one glass of wine too many, I might give a rendition of Tom Waits’s ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’ on the piano: the only song I’ll sing in public, as it is the only song I know that, if you are to sing it well, you have to sing it badly.
Morgen: If that’s the case, it makes me a brilliant singer. :) Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Will: John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction is great – crotchety, but great. I love Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, which is probably my favourite manifesto about writing. And I’m excited at the moment by a Chinese writing manual, the Wenxin Diaolong, or ‘The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons’, by the sixth century writer Liu Xie. I spend too long on the web as it is, so I don’t tend to frequent too many writers’ sites.
Morgen: Knowing how quickly the days go online, I can’t say I blame you… mine’s one of the few, hopefully. :) Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Will: These days, not so many. In the distant past I used to run a writing website called Birmingham Words. This was between around 2003 and 2008, I think. It was, at one stage, quite a bustling writers’ forum and publishing project. I handed it over to Birmingham City University who were keen on taking it over; but for various reasons the site folded some time later, something that I regret. These days, I use Facebook and Twitter a lot – probably too much. But the forums that I prefer are those where I can meet other flesh and blood human beings.
Morgen: What a shame. It does take a lot to keep a site going (although you don’t have to be as manically proflic as me). What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Will: Other than death (which does not just apply to writers)? It is really very hard to tell. On the one hand the writing industry is, we are perpetually told, in chaos. But on the other hand, I never signed up to be part of an industry, and so whether it is in chaos or not is not at the top of my list of concerns. And, besides, it is decidedly fashionable to claim that we are living in times of upheaval, transformation, chaos and radical change. It’s a habit brought on by twenty-four hour news reporting and so on. I’m not sure I believe that it is more the case now than in the past. Having said that, I really don’t have any way of predicting the future. Personally, I’d just like it if I could keep on playing with words and stories and ideas, putting stuff down whether on paper or in pixels, and in this way, making my way through the world.
Morgen: And as long as you enjoy it… Writing doesn’t feel like an industry to me. I compare ourselves to learner drivers – we all know how hard it is to ‘succeed’ so we’re very supportive (generally) of everyone else. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Will: I have a website at www.willbuckingham.com, and a blog over at www.themyriadthings.com.
Morgen: Thank you, Will. It’s been great chatting with you.
I then invited Will to include an extract of his writing and this is from chapter 1 of The Descent of the Lyre.
The music was already there before he was born. He lay in his mother’s womb and listened to her heart thud like a tupan. His eyes were closed, but his ears attuned to the rhythms of his mother’s body—the unsteady ruchenitsas of her laughter, the slowing and quickening kopanitsas of her changing moods, the steady pravo horo of the hours she spent weaving at the loom. The music was there, as if awaiting his arrival, lying in ambush for him as he made his way down the road that led into existence.
He was the first of his mother’s children to live beyond the womb, the first to open his eyes and see the soft green of the upland fields and meadows of the village of Gela. An elder brother and sister, twins, had died the year before his birth. His mother would later consider him to be not the first, but the third.
The music was already there, not only before his birth, but before his conception. His uncle, his mother’s brother, had been a musician. His name, also, was Ivan. And he plucked the strings of the tambura with such sweetness it was said to bring peace to the animals of the forest, to calm the hearts of bears and wolves, so that they would lumber away and cause nobody any harm. Like Orfei, the old women of the village said: like Orfei, who once had been king. But uncle Ivan had killed himself in the spring before the child’s birth, whilst his nephew swam, no larger than the length of a human thumb, in the many rhythms of his mother’s womb. They found the body hanging from a cherry tree, drenched in a rain of yellow blossom. When the fruits budded and swelled later that year, they were more abundant than anybody could remember.
Nobody asked why uncle Ivan took his life. In times such as these—when the countryside was full of robber bands who would cut a man’s throat for a few coins, when Sultan Selim III sat uneasily on his throne listening to a million insects gnawing at the foundations of the empire, when those who toiled for a living on the hillsides were at the mercy of the rich, as they always are and have been—in times such as these, what requires explanation is not why a man should wish to die, but rather why life persists at all.
A child, no more than seven or eight, brought the news of the suicide. Wandering on the hillside he had seen the man’s body hanging from the tree. He ran to the village in tears. The dead man’s sister, on hearing the news, touched her hand to her belly, retired to the house and closed the door. Through her tears she murmured blessings upon the child; and the child, shut in the singing, pulsing cauldron of her womb, listened as she sang her brother’s name, over and over, two syllables, the second stressed, like the uneven steps of a dance: Ivàn, Ivàn, Ivàn.
And a synopsis…
It is the early nineteenth century, and the Bulgarian village of Gela, the legendary home of Orpheus, is suffering under the heavy taxation and arbitrary justice of Ottoman rule. When his bride-to-be is abducted the night before his wedding, Ivan Gelski takes to the hills and turns to banditry to seek revenge. But a chance encounter with a travelling guitarist, and the bloodshed that follows, set him on a musical journey through fame, martyrdom and legend. This reinvention of the tale of Orpheus, plunges the reader into the music and folklore of Bulgaria, in a parable about storytelling, sainthood and myth-making. The Descent of the Lyre was listed as a Bookseller’s Choice for August 2012 in The Bookseller magazine.
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Will Buckingham is a novelist, philosopher and writer for children.  His books include the novels, The Descent of the Lyre and Cargo Fever, the children’s book The Snorgh and the Sailor, and the philosophy books Introducing Happiness: A Practical GuideFinding our Sea-Legs: Ethics, Experience and the Ocean of Stories and Levinas, Storytelling and Anti-Storytelling. He also contributed chapters on twentieth century and contemporary philosophy to the internationally bestselling The Philosophy Book, published by Dorling Kindersley.  He has written for a wide range of literary journals including The Interpreter’s House, Brittle Star, The Frogmore Papers, Spilt Milk Magazine, The Independent, Hearing Voices, The Packingtown Review, and written for BBC radio 4. He has given interviews and readings for BBC Radio 4’s Beyond Belief programme, as well as on BBC Leicester, BBC West Midlands, Radio 4, and independent radio stations.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and leaving a comment - we are all very grateful.