Jonathan Pinnock is a prize-winning poet and short story writer. His fiction has featured in numerous anthologies and has been broadcast on BBC Radio Four. I first came across his writing when his sharp and witty collection Dot Dash won Salt Publishing's Scott Prize. I spoke to him about writing and his new book Take it Cool, a bio-historico-musicological-memoir.
I've gone through various phases with writing. Back in the early 90s, when the kids were of an age where they'd read anything I stuck in front of them, I wrote several childrens' books. I got some nice letters back from publishers but never quite had the persistence to break through. Then in the late 90s I ended up writing a book on software development and contributing to another dozen. That all fizzled out in the mid 00s when (a) my publisher went under and (b) I realised that what I really wanted to do was have one last go at getting some fiction published. So I tend to think of myself as having started writing for real in around 2005.
You won Salt Publishing's Scott Prize for short stories with Dot Dash and you are the author of the Pride and Prejudice sequel, Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens. You have also written prize-winning poetry. Take it Cool seems like a departure from your usual writing. How did you come to write it?
All my books are quite different, in fact - especially if you include Professional DCOM Application Development (yes, that was what the software one was called). So I tend not to think of it so much as a departure as a case of me not having made up my mind about what sort of a writer I want to be yet. Having said that, I'd like to think that if you picked up any of my books (even the DCOM one), you'd be able to tell they were by the same person.
That's a bit like asking which of my kids I prefer :) I find any type of writing equally infuriating and equally rewarding. When it's going badly, it's like wading through treacle, whatever the style or genre. When it goes well, it's the best thing in the whole world ever.
Which book do you wish you had written?
The non-fiction book I wish I'd written (although in order to do so I would have had to have put myself in some deeply scary situations) is Jon Ronson's "Them: Adventures with Extremists". It's extremely funny but also massively illuminating, like all of his books. The fiction book I wish I'd written is Steven Hall's "The Raw Shark Texts", which somehow contrives to be funny, moving and thrilling while at the same time weird, mad and experimental.
What are you working on at the moment?
Good question. I'm playing around with various ideas that occasionally look as if they're going somewhere and then fall apart when my back is turned. However, I'm starting a Creative Writing MA very soon (well, it's about time) and I'm hoping that will stimulate me to actually commit to something again!
Thanks Jon, and all the very best with Take it Cool.
Check out Jon's website
Read an extract from the opening of Take it Cool here