Interview with author Philip J Gould

What’s the hardest part about writing YA lit?:

I think the hardest part to writing YA lit is entertaining myself when writing the story.  Sure, it’s equally important, and just as difficult, coming up with an interesting idea, theme, set of characters and story in the first place.  Making it unique and original in what-is a very competitive market is not a simple matter either.   But ultimately the aim is to write a good story that people out there will want to read, but first and foremost I must want to sit and spend hours on my own writing it.

When exactly did you know you wanted to be a writer?:

When I was in high school, an English lit teacher scrawled an encouraging note at the foot of an essay I’d written.  He said ‘I had the ability to be a good, future children’s writer’.  I was about 14 back then, and I knew that writing was the thing I most wanted to do.  It took me 15 years before I went on to be published, and another 10 for me to want to write again.

Have you found any clever ways to market your books to YA readers?:

Not as yet.  As I write this I am literally at the promotional stage of my first novel, The Girl in the Mirror.  I am heeding the advice of not spending a fortune on PR or advertising as generally very few sales are generated from these avenues.  I think most of my marketing will be utilizing social networks and blog book reviewers.  If anyone has any nuggets of wisdom, drop me an email!

What YA books have had the biggest influence on your writing?:

I don’t like to use the word influence, as that feels like I’d be trying to mimic them, however I enjoy reading Kathy Reichs’ Tory Brennan books, as well as most of the mainstream titles that have hit the book-shelves, and which have been turned in to film adaptations (The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, etc.).  If I can emulate a fraction of the success and interest in my books as these people, I’d be happy.
Short author bio: Philip John Gould, was born during the hot summer of August 1974 in Suffolk, England. From an early age he escaped reality by spending many hours daydreaming and aspiring to be an author.  It’s owing to positive feedback on the back of a short story when, aged 13, Phil’s English teach wrote an encouraging phrase at the end of his assignment, that inspired him to persevere with his ambitions deep into adulthood.

In 1990, Phil left school and took a job in shipping, where he worked as an Export clerk for a very abusive manager.  He changed careers in 1993, joining a large insurance company, where he undertook a number of positions, including training guide writer, and culminating in a junior manager role which he maintained until he was made redundant in 2003.  A day after the announcement of losing his job, he had blood tests in relation to a growth in the side of his neck.  A month later he was diagnosed with having Hodgkins Lymphoma.

In 2002, work on The Book of Alternative Records had begun, written with the assistance of Ralf Laue who owned the second largest database of achievement records in the world, behind the Guinness behemoth.  Together, the book was compiled and completed in 2003 and published in 2004 by John Blake Publishing.  In 2005 a German translation of the book was produced. Phil’s ambition to be published was fulfilled, but his health and personal circumstances thwarted any hopes to pursue an immediate career in writing.

In fact, it wasn’t until 2011 that Phil got the itch to write again.  Having been working back in insurance for a while, he decided that he would leave his paid day job early the following year to fulfil two things.  One, to spend more time with his family (his wife had given birth to a son in October 2011 and Phil wanted to be more hands-on with his newborn’s upbringing, an opportunity he’d missed with his two daughters), and two, to start working on a new writing project.  Actually, an idea for a series of novels had been at the back of his mind for some time, but it wasn’t until September 2012 (after an extended holiday), that Phil finally sat down and started working on what would be The Girl in the Mirror.

Still spending too many hours daydreaming, Phil continues to live in Suffolk with his wife, Beth, and three children, Rebecca, Sophie and Matthew.

Phil’s favourite saying:

Quod non me inferficit me corroborat – What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger…


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