Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Author Interview: Graham Parke, author of No Hope for Gomez

Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.

When you sat down to write the novel, was this how you envisioned it? Did it evolve into something new or surprising as you wrote?

I knew bits of the plot when I started, and I had a good idea of the kind of feel I wanted the novel to have. I wanted to write something fresh, something that was fast paced but at the same time highly personable. I wanted readers to be able to spend a whole afternoon reading, or just five minutes. Basically the kind of novel you can read while you’re on a plane and the kids in front of you are making faces at you. The way the novel is structured, you can read for five minutes and still get a juicy bite of story.

While I was writing, though, Gomez sort of took over. As he became more defined as a character, he started taking the story into new directions. He has a very strange way of looking at the world – one that somehow makes sense when he explains it – and I decided to follow to see what would happen. At that time, I hadn’t really decided whether it should be a novel or not. I was writing Gomez purely for my own amusement. To this day it continues to surprise me how many people are ‘getting’ Gomez. He is such a strange character, I expected him to alienate at least 90% of his readers. Luckily he didn’t.

In the novel, Gomez’s dad names him after the man in front of him in line at town hall. How did you choose the name of your main character when you began writing?

Part of the novel was written before Gomez had a name. I think this is a good idea because it’s better to have an evolving character define its own name, than to have a name pre-define a character. It’s just another way of not getting your subconscious bogged down on a preconceived notion. Once I had a good feel for the kind of person Gomez was, the hunt was on to find a name that would fit. I think Gomez is perfect, but it took a few days of going through lists of names on the net to find it.

Blog posts are a very timely medium for telling the story. What inspired you to structure the novel this way?

The blog-post thing came about quite late. Gomez wasn’t written in a linear fashion, I had stacks of ideas and scenes that kept growing and falling into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Some of the earliest scenes didn’t make sense until the novel was almost done, and then they just clicked into place as if they had been meant to go there all along.

I had the pacing the way I wanted it, and the writing was nice and personable, but I still needed a structure to explain that. I had a feeling it would turn out to be some kind of journal, but I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of journal until the plot actually called for something very specific. Yet another one of those things that really just clicked into place.

Gomez worries that he might have an archaic knack he will never discover because he lives in the wrong time. What do you think your “knack” might be?

Ultimately I don’t suppose I will ever know for sure. That’s part of the fun, every day you can discover something new and wonderful that you really ‘suck’ at (or, if you’re more lucky than I tend to be, ‘that you turn out to be really great at’.) The point is to keep searching.

Did you ever have trouble getting into Gomez’s somewhat quirky mind? If so, how did you overcome the writer’s block?

Very early on I made it a point to never sit down and try to think of something quirky to put in the novel. Things like that don’t really work, I think. Whatever quirkiness occurred to me while I was writing (and more frequently, while I was trying to concentrate on something else) I made grateful use of, but the rest of the time I just concentrated on telling the story and letting the characters develop.

Warren is a hilarious parody of an aspiring novelist. Were you interested in satirizing your own publishing journey? Something you saw around you in the business?

Warren did start out that way, but he quickly took on characteristics of his own. Just like the other characters in the novel, he continuously pushed me to go to places I hadn’t gone before, consider things I had hadn’t considered before.

Warren is one of those characters that I feel might warrant some further examination, maybe in a short story or some kind of online journal. There was also a lot of back story to his character that never made it into the novel. On final review, it wasn’t really necessary and it would have upset the balance and pacing of the overall story. It hurt to cut those bits out, and I had to remind myself that every cut made it a better novel.

What is a random fact that readers probably don’t know about you?

I know what the appendix is actually for.

Is there any hope for Gomez?

There is more Gomez-related writing in the works and it looks promising, so I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see.

Thanks so much to Graham for taking the time to answer my questions!

Have a question for the author? Leave it in the comments! Graham has kindly offered to stop by and field reader comments today.

For more about this author, please visit:

It's the age-old tale:
Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.

We've seen it all before, many times, but this time it's different. If only slightly. When Gomez Porter becomes a test subject in an experimental drug trial, he is asked to keep track of any strange experiences through a blog. What Gomez isn't ready for, is so many of his experiences suddenly seeming strange; the antiques dealer trying to buy his old tax papers, his neighbor boiling salamanders on his balcony at midnight, the super sexy lab assistant who falls for him but is unable to express herself in terms outside the realm of science. But when one of the trial participants turns up dead and another goes missing, Gomez begins to fear for his life. No longer sure who he can trust and which of his experiences are real and which merely drug induced illusions, he decides it%u2019s time to go underground and work out a devious plan.

Now, years later, his blogs have been recovered from a defunct server. For the first time we can find out firsthand what happened to Gomez as he takes us on a wild ride of discovery.


Lauren M said...

W-wait...I thought the appendix had no function! *eyes Graham skeptically* :P

Anyway, I love the bit about being able to read Gomez for five minutes but still getting something juicy out of it! That's a great idea!

Awesome interview! :)

~Enamored Soul~ said...

To say Gomez is quirky, is an understatement. The man is the EMBODIMENT and the EPITOME of quirkiness! All I can say is, there's definitely NO hope for Gomez, coz now I'm in love with him. And unbeknownst to him, I stalk him as he stalks Christine. Oh, not to mention, I think Hicks ROCKS! :)


Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

Graham Parke said...

It's actually quite amazing how they managed to convince you all that you have a totally useless body part that you should let them take out. In fact, you should pay them for it... Doesn't that sound the least bit fishy? I can't say anymore, I'm in too much trouble as it is...

BookGeek said...

I think this interview alone has convinced me. Actually it might have been the bio as well. And the concept of the book. Dang. All of it!

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