Interview with James Garbett
What inspires you to write?
I adore stories that stick with you, the kind you mull over in your head for days on end as you relive climatic character moments and gut-churning, jaw dropping plot reveals, that’s where my love for writing sparks. I always try to replicate that indelible and hard-to-describe feeling in my own writing. My ambition is for my novels to be stories that readers have swirling around their heads long after they’ve turned the last page, the ones they chat about to their friends at length about because they just couldn’t believe what happened.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I’m all for plotting and outlining as much as possible; it’s like setting up a trail of crusty breadcrumbs so I don't get lost in the woods of my own story. But then of course there are the characters— which, when I feel I’ve written good ones – are they’re like these infuriating friends who drag you off the path to explore what wasn’t on the travel itinerary. However, I love to dream up a beginning that's a world away from the end yet lands in a place that makes readers nod and say, 'Of course, it had to be this way!'
Tell us about your protagonist
I like characters that dance between hero in their head but villain to the world or vice versa. So, when it comes to my protagonists, I'm all about those classic human flaws and hamartia’s. There's something about writing characters who are so infuriatingly blind to their own failings that's weirdly satisfying. I always want the reader to find themselves hoping the protagonist will achieve their goals, but at the same time, there's a part of the reader holding back, wary of the outcome if they do. That’s the kind of protagonist who feels alive to me, vibrant and unpredictable, walking a precarious tightrope with the reader on each page.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing.
Ah the writing routine – it's a bit of a love-hate dynamic. I adore writing ironically beyond words but, hand on heart, I'm the king of procrastination. I could be itching to hit that creative zone where ideas are firing from my brain faster than I can type, yet I'll find any excuse not to start. When I do finally park myself to write, it is normally pre-scheduled and often corresponded to my nearest and dearest that I will not be very communicative during this time. I've got this little ritual that works great for me where I spend the first ten minutes soaking up a few pages from a book I’m currently reading – right now, it's the novelisation of 'Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith' and 'The Royal Game' by Stefan Zweig that are on my bedside table. It's a strange trick that reading someone else's words can flick that creative switch in your brain to write. Before I know it, I'm in the flow, and the only reason I stop typing is because the responsibilities of life annoyingly interrupts.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
If I had the chance for a little time travel, there'd be two nuggets of wisdom I'd impart to the past version of me. First, on the personal self-development front, I'd borrow from my dad's knowledge: "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Which I’ve found he has been -annoyingly – very right about. Being kind and approachable really does get you further personally and professionally than you'd think, and we don’t all need to be bullish to get what we want. And advice for the writer in me? Back then, I was all about trying to write what everyone else was reading. I have some bad bad YA fantasy attempts on the darkest corners of my hard drive. Now I understand that people are actually looking for something fresh, new and exciting – they want your story, not a rehash of everything else. So, I'd tell myself to quit trying to write the 'next big thing' and just enjoy putting as much as myself on the pages of my book.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
At the time of writing, I’m just finishing setting up my new writer Instagram:@onemoresubplot where I plan to post regularly on what makes stories great.