Tell us about yourself and your books.:
I started late in my publishing life at the age of 65. Until 2011, I never thought of writing anything. I started the book as a form of psychology to try to understand what happened to me in my teenage years. From there it developed into the book, ‘Is it about that boy?’ with the subtitle of ‘The Shocking Trauma of Aversion Therapy.’
The book is a love story with dramatic twists. I fell in love with Stephen at the age of 16 and, although he died many years ago, I am still in love with him 50 years later. Why my love stayed so intense over that time is the underlying story behind the book.
I have lead a very physically active life that started with playing rugby at age thirteen, then mountaineering in my late teens, getting a labourers job in my twenties, rock and ice climbing, and then dry stone walling from the age of twentyfive. Dry stone walls are those built using no mortar, just stone and nothing else. During my walling career to present I have built nearly 10 miles of wall and lifting, by hand, over that time over 40,000 tons of stone.
Indeed my natural ability to build dry stone walls saved my life. During my deepest depressions when I thought about suicide, it was stone in one form or another that I used as a crutch to keep going.
When you read my book you will understand why I have rejected all forms of traditional religion and embraced a kind of Earth-based, Shamanic spiritual form, involving meditation, incense making and burning, and Tarot reading.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Due to my love of stone I have built myself a stoneman’s room in my house. This room has a stone floor, stone fireplace, stone shelves and a stone table. This room is my place of meditation. Here I can read and write with just the sounds of the burning wood in the open fire crackling and the gentle sounds of a snoring dog at my side.
I always have a notebook and pen at my bedside. During the night I’ll often dream so intensively about something which I try to write down as soon as I wake up. During my depression years I had a recurring nightmare about a spaceship which when written down and examined, by someone who understands dreams, revealed a hugely traumatic part of my past. I find it relatively easy to write non-fiction. I find it very difficult to write fiction. My life has had so many moments that would fit into a fiction book but as they have actually happened makes it very difficult for me to separate them.
What authors have influenced you?
I like books that make me think and examine my experiences.
My favourite writers are: Richard Bach with his books which are a mix of fiction and facts. ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ at one time became my bible.
Bruce Chatwin for ‘Songlines’ another writer who mixes fact and fiction. And the perfect book for someone with a faulty memory.
T Thorn Coyle with her books about Wiccan beliefs, ‘Evolutionary Witchcraft,’ ‘Kissing the Limitless,’ ‘Make Magic of Your Life.’
PD Ouspensky for ‘In Search of the Miraculous’ which is a bit dated but is full of wonderful ideas.
Phyllis Curott, ‘Book of Shadows,’ and ‘Witch Crafting: A spiritual guide to making magic.’
All the writers of the Ulverston Writers: Philip Caine, Jeannie French, Maggie Norton, Julia Patten, Peggy Savage, Gillian Ogilvie, and Geoffrey Elleray, Eve Brookes.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Always have a notebook AND pen neer you at all times. I emphasise the AND due to the oftentimes I forget a pen. By all means use your mobile phone for these notes but pen and paper means you can get the notes down quickly.
I have a notebook at my bedside so that in the event that I have had an intensive dream or nightmare I can write down my thoughts immediately on waking up.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Find out what you are good at, and enjoy doing, and single mindedly pursue that until you get a job doing exactly that
What are you reading now?
Books from 'And Other Books' who specialise in translations of foregn writers. Their books tend to be quite short books and short stories which suit my memory.
Deborah Levy: Black Vodka, short stories
Emmanuelle Pagano: Trysting
Enrique Vila-Matas: Vampire in Love, short stories
What’s your biggest weakness?
Nowadays I have a great problem with my memory. I cannot read a book a few pages at a time. I have to read it from cover to cover otherwise I forget what I have read previously. So short stories are what I read now. Luckily in the past I read intensively
What is your favorite book of all time?
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach
What has inspired you and your writing style?
All the writers of the Ulverston Writers who convinced me that I was a very good writer and that my book was very good too.
What are you working on now?
I have started writing a second book about how my love of working with stone has affected my life. This will cover my stone shovelling and discovery of dry stone walls as a railway worker; my rock climbing; mountaineering; and my love of stoney secluded places and my extensive experience of stone working all over the north of Great Britain, with one foray to Australia.
What is your method for promoting your work?
I am a relative newcomer to the internet age and am finding it hard to find ways to promote my book which reflect my very hands on way of working. For instance this is the third time I have tried to fill in this questionaire as I keep accidentally deleting it, much to my frustration.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Apasrt from my second book, I will just stick to doing the Guardian Newspaper crosswords.
How well do you work under pressure?
I don't. Any pressure or stress makes me down pen and strike out into the countryside to escape my past.
How do you decide what tone to use with a particular piece of writing?
I don't. I only write in one way for all my work. I think.
Author Websites and Profiles
Jeremy Gavins Website