Nick Griffiths Interview
Posted on 15 April 2008. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Nick Griffiths, whose debut novel, In the Footsteps of Harrison Dextrose, is published now by Legend Press.
Tell us all about your writing background- what you've written, what you're currently writing
I'm a journalist by trade, who started out on magazines for secretaries and teachers, graduated somehow to the music press (Sounds, Select), and via women's mags and computer games mags ended up writing about television for the Daily Mail, Radio Times and other nationals. I began In the Footsteps of Harrison Dextrose around 1996 or '97, largely for fun, but also to allow myself to be as daft as possible, without the danger of someone editing the jokes out. (Yosemite-Sam-style seethe.) Over time, that hit a backburner the size of Manhattan, was revived at an Arvon Foundation writers' retreat in 2001, finished in 2003 and rewritten after consultation with a kindly editor, then at HarperCollins, named Nick Sayers, who gave me encouragement. The novel finally found a home at the small but beautifully formed Legend Press in 2007 - hope for everyone who sits on a book for so long that it begins to resemble a pamphlet. I'm also the author of the Doctor Who memoir, Dalek I Loved You, published by Gollancz in 2007 (the paperback's out early April '08) and am cogitating (mired in indecision) over what to write next.
How, when and why did you first start writing?
Short stories about people dying in nuclear wars and generally sheltering under tables, from an early age. Clearly the Cold War seeped into my childish consciousness.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
Bruce Robinson of Withnail & I fame. Why? Because his writing exudes a love of the language. You don't speak his lines, you enunciate them. And because he has a fabulous sense of humour, awash with the eccentricities of England
How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication?
My first commission came from Shaun Phillips, then reviews editor of Sounds, who read a review of David Bowie's Tin Machine that I had sent in to his paper, which he enjoyed. And my first/only agent, I found by going through every agent in Writers' & Artists', crossing out everyone who charged 15%, crossing out anyone who sounded pompous or who lived in West London, which left, I seem to recall, two. I'm extremely glad to have plumped for the charming, unpretentious, brilliant Robin Wade at Wade & Doherty, who amazingly liked me back.
What's the worst thing about writing?
The compulsion to self-motivate.
And the best?
Forming a sentence that makes you smile or laugh. And being read by other people.
Tell us what kind of response you get from audiences/readers and if/how this affects/influences your writing
It's a solitary life, writing. In journalism, certainly, there are precious few pats on the back (which everyone needs, really, or paranoia sets in). Writing books is far more fulfilling in that respect, because everyone and their otter has an opinion, and the internet allows them to air that. Harrison Dextrose isn't published yet, and I am on tenterhooks as to the reaction. But I've had some frankly glowing responses to Dalek I Loved You, which make my heart soar. (And some frankly appalling ones - and those people can sod off. Though I'm learning to accept the rough with the smooth.)
What was your breakthrough moment?
I guess being accepted by Sounds, from where everything developed (if at a snail's pace).
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