Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Flidderbugs, by Jonathan Gould

Today Jonathan Gould, author of Flidderbugs and Doodling, is visiting. I am beyond pleased to have such a creative, innovative author on my blog! And, as an added bonus, Jonathan will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter from the tour.

Welcome to Fresh Pot of Tea, Jonathan! Could you please tell about your
book,Flidderbugs, and give us some insights into your inspiration?

Thanks so much for having me – even though I have to admit I’m not much of a hot drinks person. But my wife lives on them, so I’m sure she’s enjoying one on your behalf.

Flidderbugs is what I would call, using the sophisticated technical terms that I do, a “funny little story”. It’s about a bunch of insects who live on a most distinctive tree, called the Krephiloff Tree. Their life up there is pretty good, or at least it would be if they spent a bit more time enjoying it and a bit less time arguing about silly and pointless things, particularly how many points there are on a leaf. Of course, as a result if all this bickering, a series of events is set in motion which ultimately lead to the Krephiloff Tree being placed at risk of destruction – and if there’s no more Krephiloff Tree, there can be no more Flidderbugs.

I suppose the story is a bit of an allegory, or a fable. I’ve always been interested in what people believe and why they believe it, whether this is in an area like politics, or more generally. The story was definitely inspired by these kinds of ideas, and particularly by reading a couple of terrific books about psychology by John Cleese (one of my great heroes) and Robyn Skinner called Families and How to Survive Them and Life and How to Survive It.

      Could you please tell us a bit about yourself? Feel free to do this in a completely creative way.

I’m a bit of a contradiction. Sometimes I go to great efforts not to stand out too much. I tend to dress and act in a pretty conservative way, and I prefer not to attract too much attention to myself. But in other ways, I work quite hard to not follow the crowd. I think this comes out most strongly in my writing. With every story I write, I’m always thinking about how it can be unique and special. How I can avoid following formulas and fitting too readily into recognisable genres, and trying to create a completely new story that’s never been written before. And given how many stories have already been written, that’s not an easy thing to do.

Could you also tell the readers about the term Dag-Lit? Is this a new genre that you have

Dag-Lit is one of the ways I’ve tried to get my writing to stand out. One problem with writing stories that don’t easily fit into recognized genres is that describing them to others can be difficult. When people discover I’m a writer (and let’s face it, I don’t exactly hide the fact – ok, I generally lead with it in most conversations), they want to know what sort of stories I write. Eventually I got tired of saying, “Well, they’re sort of silly and funny and kind of for kids but also for adults,” and just blurted out, “They’re Dag-Lit.” Dag is Australian slang for someone who is uncool or unfashionable, possibly a little childlike, and definitely a lot of fun. I like to think my stories are like that.

I’ll know my mission is complete when I walk into a bookshop and see a Dag-Lit section amongst all the other categories.

Flidderbugs has received wonderful reviews, and reading them inspired me to read the book. Why
do you think you have gotten such an overwhelmingly positive reaction?

Gee, not sure how I can answer that without appearing immodest. I guess that all I can say is I worked pretty hard on it, and put a lot of thought and a lot of heart into it (as I try to do with all my stories). But you can never second guess what people will think, so it’s really gratifying to get this kind of feedback. As a writer, it’s definitely the most wonderful thing when you can connect with readers in this way.

Kriffle is the main character. Tell us about him and the challenges you encountered during the
creation of an MC who is an insect.

In some way, Kriffle is me in insect form. As a writer, most of my main characters tend to be me – it’s something I’m trying to break from as I challenge myself more. But Kriffle generally reacts as I would – he means well but is occasionally a bit slow, and doesn’t always know the best ways to react to situations, or how to handle other people.

Writing an insect character was definitely fun. I enjoyed taking any opportunity I could to throw in references to antennae or mandibles or other insect parts. But it did also pose a challenge. I needed to make sure the character would be engaging enough to adults, and not appear childish. I wanted to write a story that worked for adult readers as an allegory, not something they would toss away as merely a kid’s story. In some ways, I felt it was a bit of a risky thing to do. But as a writer I like to take risks so that’s ok.

Who do you think would really enjoy reading Flidderbugs? And where can they find the book?

Like I said above, I’m hoping that Flidderbugs will appeal to a broad audience. Kids should enjoy reading about a bunch of silly insects, while adults should appreciate the allegorical and satirical elements. And hopefully, all ages will find it an interesting and engaging story.

The book can be found at the regular ebook outlets:
-                Amazon
-                Amazon UK
-                Smashwords 
-                Barnes and Noble
-                iBookstore
-                Sony Bookstore 
-                Kobo

What is your next project?

Definitely have to add an s at the end of project – I always have multiple things on the go.

Next thing out is a full-length novel (my first). It’s called Magnus Opum, and I would also classify it as Dag-Lit. It’s basically my version of an epic fantasy – I like to describe it as Tolkien meets Dr Seuss. I’m hoping to have it out in early April.

After that, I’m working on a sequel to my first published ebook – Doodling. This one has the tentative title of Scribbling, and will continue the strange and unpredictable adventures of Neville Lansdowne.

Thanks so much for stopping by and having a cold drink (not tea) with us, Jonathan!


Jonathan Gould said...

Hi Alison,

Thanks for having me today.

Thought I might post a quick question to readers. What do you think about books with talking animals? Are they just for kids or can they be interesting to adults as well? If I can throw in a few case studies for discussion - Animal Farm and Watership Down.

And also, can I just plug my new release (which contains no talking animals but lots of strange talking "other things". It's called Magnus Opum and it's due out on April 1. Stop by for info.

Jonathan Gould said...

PS - not sure of that photo of the fellow with the moustache up above - he looks nothing like me.

Mary Preston said...

That is quite a photo of John Cleese isn't it? A little manic perhaps? I enjoyed the interview. I love that YOU shine through.


Christine Murray said...

I think this is such a cool premise for a book. As a foster parent, it's nice to get books that you enjoy while you're reading them to kids. It becomes more of a shared experience that way.

Dag is my new word of the day...

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Jonathan today.

MomJane said...

I hope they guard the Krephiloff Tree, I would hate for the story to end.

Johanna Garth said...

I love the sound of this book for my son. Seems like it would be right up his alley!

Alison DeLuca said...

I know! It is as though Jonathan invented a whole new genre.

Jonathan Gould said...

Hi Marybelle,

Of course, it's John Cleese. And here I was thinking it was me on a bad hair (and moustache) day.

Jonathan Gould said...

Hi Christine,

You don't often see the words cool and dag in the same post so well done - I love the idea of sharing reading with kids while getting something out of it as well.

Jonathan Gould said...

Hi MomJane (good to see the n is back),

The Flidderbugs are a funny bunch - they think they're looking after the tree but have no ideas what the real problem is.

Jonathan Gould said...

Hi Johanna,

Hopefully your son's alley is somewhere close to the funny little road where most of my stories live.

Jonathan Gould said...

Hi Alison,

I hope you're right. Today, A Fresh Pot of Tea. Tomorrow, the world!

Janelle Jensen said...

Just downloaded my copy of Flidderbugs and can't wait to dive into such an interesting world! I'm the same way, always trying to figure out what genre I should attach to my name. Oh, and thanks for the psych book recommendations; I can use all the help I can get! ;)

Jonathan Gould said...

Hi Janelle,

I think we've met before - you're a pubwrite person aren't you?

Genre is a slippery thing - it can be really useful as a way of describing something but it can also restrict and pigeon-hole.

Hope the psych book works for you - we all need all the help we can get.

Catherine Lee said...

OMG...Of course adults like talking animals in books--Aespo's Fables, Watership Down, Chronicles of Narnia, Animal Farm, etc. These are great books.

Alison DeLuca said...

I adored Aesop when I was in 5th grade. And I reread Watership Down a few years ago and was struck by its genius.

Great points!

Jonathan Gould said...

Hi Catherine and Alison,

Other favourites of mine are the Alice stories (as anyone who sees my pitches will know).

They're actually extremely sophisticated exercises in logic and wordplay hidden behind childlike scenarios.