Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, Jamie.
I'm a thirty-three-year old man living in Rugby, UK, qualified as a doctor, but on a training program to become (hopefully) further qualified as a GP. I'm also a writer (when time allows).
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
Hmm…if I hadn't mentioned it so much in the bios to various published stories, probably either that I was home educated or that my parents’ main source of income when I was a kid was selling boomerangs.
Other than that, in the context of writing stories featuring gay or lesbian characters, probably that I am a rather sexually unadventurous heterosexual man.
When did you start writing, is it something you've always been interested in, or did it develop later in life?
It's something I've always been interested in, almost for as long as I can remember. My parents both read to me from when I was very little (Winnie the Pooh, then Narnia, then Tolkien, is probably the most accurate overarching order), then I started reading quite young because I just couldn't wait for the next chapter, and writing seemed the next logical progression.
I remember writing loads of beginnings as a child. I would get really excited because I had started writing a story about time travel or aliens or something. Then I would lose interest, mainly because I didn't have the faintest idea where the story was meant to go. I hadn't gone so far as to actually plan anything, you see. I'm not sure the idea even occurred to me. I don't think I realized that writers sometimes planned things. I thought they just sort of made it up as they went along.
Then when I was about ten I realized I would always be awful unless I finished something. If I finished something, it might still be awful, but at least it would be, well awful and complete. And that took me a few years to get together. I think I completed a short story for the first time when I was about twelve or thirteen. Again, it was pretty bad. But at least it was complete.
After that, it was just trying to find the time and the dedication to keep chipping away at things. I gradually built up my story-completing-muscles, and eventually got into the habit of forcing myself to try to finish things (unless they felt really, really bad) almost as a matter of discipline, an exercise.
After a while. it got to the point that most things I started, I eventually got round to finishing. Then I even managed to finish a novel (The Fall of the Angel Nathalie, a dark fantasy/horror novel published in July 2013 by Bedlam, an imprint of Necro). That surprised me so much that I immediately went ahead and completed a second, very different novel. I'm still trying to find a home for that one.
In between, I've carried on writing (and mostly finishing) short stories and novellas. And Less Than Three Press have been kind enough to publish two of them.
Has it been everything you thought it would be or not?
That's difficult to answer. I think when I was a kid, I had this idea that it would be the easy (or at least possible) to make money from writing. That bubble burst pretty early on. But that makes me sound very mercenary. I'm not—at least, I don't think so—but I'm also realistic. If I was to put together all the money I'd earn from writing, it would probably still be a negative number! So clearly not tenable financially, at least not for me, at least not yet (that's hope for you, right?)
I think the enjoyment of writing hasn't been diminished by this. I still love sitting down and writing, escaping into another world, or saying the things that are so difficult to get out in real life, finding a way to express them clearly and—to my mind—better than I could ever express them without writing. And it's very cathartic, too. A great way of working through things, working through how you feel about something or someone (even if you change the names to protect the innocent!); and it's also a way of connecting with yourself. What do I mean by that? I mean…well, you know that saying, about people being like icebergs, with 90% of us being beneath the surface? I think sometimes, just sometimes, when you are writing and it's going well and something special is happening, what you are doing is opening up communication with that other 90% of yourself. In that sense, in some ways it's the time when I feel most like me, maybe because I have access suddenly to that other 90% of me. That also makes me think of someone—I can't remember who, I'm afraid, a famous writer, I'm sure of it—talking about writing stories being like finding objects cast upon the shore, or like carving, releasing the thing that's stuck inside a piece of wood or stone, and that no one else can see. Which I guess brings us back again to writing without a plan, without knowing clearly where you are going. My guess is that, when we are writing well, some deep part of us does know (or at least guesses) where we are going, even if the surface part of the mind does not. So in a sense it's a process of discovery, but at he same time it's a process of self-discovery, because those parts of us are there, have always been there, and the writing is just a way of connecting with them again.
Phew. That was a bit pretentious. Better go back to something more grounded...
Finally, I love showing what I've written to people, to friends and family (which makes me a show-off, I know!); beyond that, having something I've written be read first by a publisher (and deemed good enough to publish) and then by readers (and sometimes getting feedback) is a huge buzz, and that has nothing to do with financial matters. It's about connecting with another person through a page, reaching a hand through the paper (or, these days, through a monitor screen or mobile phone) and have it grasped by someone else. That feeling hasn't changed since I was eight or ten and showing my writing to my mum or my friends. It's still special.
How did it feel when you realized that your very first book was going to be published?
Wonderful. And that goes for everything from when I heard my first short story was going to be published, to when I heard that Bedlam were interested in publishing Nathalie as a novel, right through to having Modern Serpent…accepted by LTT Press. It always feels wonderful. Like validation.
The thing is, you get so used to opening emails that essentially begin, "Many thanks for your submission of X. Unfortunately…" So the rejection letters outnumber the acceptances by such a high ratio, that I'm always bouncing around like a mad man whenever an acceptance comes, whatever it's for.
What's your favorite part of writing a book?
Hmm…well I hate sitting around, knowing that I should write something, but feeling that I don't have the energy…the thing is, once I actually force myself to sit down it's usually fun after not too long.
And the best part, the really magical part, is sort of what I've mentioned above—when you get so deeply into it that you seem to know instinctively what it is you're "meant" to be writing, without actually doing anything so crude as planning it out. And I think this is about connecting with yourself, letting go, surprising one part of yourself with what another part knows…maybe the magic is in building up something bigger than yourself? I'm not sure quite how to describe it, but if you've felt it when you're writing or when you're painting or when you're making music, I guess you'll know what I'm talking about.
And I love it when something is finished. I love the feeling of, "I made that!" And not being quite sure where it all came from, but knowing it's yours.
Then comes the really difficult part…persuading someone to publish! ;-)
Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
At the moment, I get only very limited time to actually read fro pleasure, mainly because all my spare time is spent on trying to get through my GP training exams (I've just failed one, alas, which means I'll have to sit it again early next year at some point) or on commuting (unfortunately, I'm training a little way from where I live, which means most days I spend at least two hours traveling).
So actual reading, not much…on the plus side, the amount of commuting I do means I get to listen to a lot of audiobooks. So most of the reading I do at the moment is actually listening to audiobooks. Hopefully this will change in a few years when (touch wood) I manage to get though my GP training and can get a job closer to home. Until then, it's audiobooks all the way…
It's an interesting thing actually, because suddenly you have someone else there. It's not just you and the author, in a dialogue happening inside your head. Suddenly there's the narrator too. That can be good or bad. A good narrator makes you aware of things that maybe you would have missed otherwise. A bad narrator make a book virtually unreadable/unlistenable.
Are there any other genres you'd be interested in writing?
I'm just re-reading (or re-listening) to the Dark Tower books by Stephen King, and that's making me really want to write a Western!
Also, I'm sure there's something medical brewing, getting ready to be written. It won't be a genre piece, but beyond that I don't really know much about it yet. But like they say, "write about what you know". For better or for worse, for me, that would mean either writing about a home-educated boomerang-seller's son, or writing about medicine in the UK today. Either way, I'd probably have to leave the dragons out.
Please tell us a little about your most recent release.
My most recent release (which should be out by the time you're reading this) is a novella called Modern Serpents Talk Things Through, published by Less Than Three Press. It's a…well, it's a bit odd. Essentially, it's a lesbian love story, only one of the main characters happens to be a dragon called Tina. She's just your normal run-of-the-mill dragon. She's not happy with her figure. She sees a therapist. She struggles with her weight, and sometimes reads trashy magazines which she knows are not good for her soul.
She lives in a world where dragons are the only "people" and humans are widely regarded as animals. For a dragon to keep a human as a pet is a little outré but not unheard off. The thing is, though, that Tina realizes that humans are more than just dumb animals…and she falls in love with one…
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
As I mentioned above, the next longer thing I intent to write will probably be a lot more "real" (in some ways!) and set in the medical world. Other than that, I'm not entirely sure. Whatever comes bubbling up, mayhaps…;-)
Anything you want to say to your readers?
Can't think of anything else really. Please get in touch if you have any questions!
Jamie Brindle’s recent GLBTQ releases:
Modern Serpents Talk Things Through
Tina is a modern dragon, or at least she struggles to be. She's (mostly) sticking to her diet, she goes to the gym, doesn't lounge on her hoard for (too) long, and she's steadily working through some issues with her therapist. Like the humans and dwarves that recently invaded her home and shot her with an arrow. She didn't like killing them—mostly humans seemed like sad little creatures—but they did attack her and so she destroyed them. Except for the one she locked in the cupboard. That bit she's still working up to telling her therapist about...