“Following a tragic car accident, Michael Sewell is alone for the first time. The loss of his wife, Margaret, after thirty years of marriage has left a hole far greater than Michael could have imagined. Persuaded to go on holiday by his daughter Jane, he’s at the pool when a page blown from a book sticks to his chest. The words from the page resonate with Michael, describing in detail the exact events leading up to the accident. Now, Michael must delve into his past and face his future, taking him and his family on a horrifying and tragic journey toward the truth…”
Barnsley author, Jonathan Lee, is preparing to release his second novel. The Page follows on from the success of his debut novel The Radio and will be released in February via Matador. The Page follows Michael Sewell, who following a serious car accident and the loss of his wife, is alone for the first time. I caught up with Jonathan to find out a little more about him, his work and getting published.
How did you get into writing, was it from an early age? Maybe you took a specific route after school?
I have always loved writing. My earliest memory is writing self-published magazines at ten years old. My ‘real’ job is sadly in an office, but writing has always been in my heart and I am hoping that one day I can write as my full time career.
What were your early influences – written or other?
My influences when I was younger were always Roald Dahl stories, who remains my favourite author. His Unexpected Tales made a huge impact on my early on and everything I write is designed to have a twist and effectively trick the reader into believing one thing before hitting them with something unexpected.
I have always loved music, I feel it can change your mood at any time. Back in the early years it was The Beach Boys, Del Amitri and too many long-haired US glam rock bands I care to remember.
Is there a specific book that you always go back to?
Not really. I love Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs and A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Of course, Roald Dahls unexpected tales never ever get tiresome. I do tend to move on with my reading and develop an obsession with a genre and subject and then read it to death before moving on!
Tell me about The Radio.
The Radio was my debut novel, and the first manuscript I put together seriously. It came on the back of a divorce and features George, a hen-pecked middle-aged man who finds an old transistor radio in his loft. It was given to him by his son, Adam, who sadly committed suicide years before and George begins to listen to the radio to escape his ever demanding wife. Listening to the radio takes George on a journey into his past as he attempts to deal with the loss of his son. It is a black comedy, with a huge twist and is the first in the loosely titled ‘The The’ trilogy.
It’s been a relatively quick turnaround between The Radio and your new novel, The Page? Is that a regular thing for you?
The Radio took close to two and half years to complete, and the editing stage another six months. It was finally published in April 2013. I learned a hell of a lot of lessons (and wasted a lot of time) when writing The Radio, which I didn’t repeat when writing The Page. The structures, flow and rhythm of the writing came so much more easily when putting together The Page. It took seventeen months including editing to finish. I have so many stories and ideas and without the time constraints of work, I reckon I could write, finish and edit a novel every twelve months.
What kind of person is going to like The Page?
The Page is a page-turning dark, yet slightly humorous, thriller. I honestly believe that anyone would enjoy it. I see myself as storyteller. My nephew (who is twelve) absolutely loved The Radio, and similarly I have had excellent reviews from people in their seventies!
How did you go about getting that published with Matador?
After eighteen months of rejection, I entered into the Novel Prize 2012, a national prize for previously unpublished authors. Ultimately, from 4,000 entries I came second. First prize was to be published through Matador. I received a call the morning the winner was announced to be told that though I hadn’t won, my novel was to be published anyway. It seemed the publishers preferred it to the winner, which to the best of my knowledge has never come out.
In terms of career, is there a writer out there, whose done it the way you would like to?
Again that’s a tough one. I have maximum respect for Stephen King and JK Rowling who were rejected so many times but continued to believe and persevere until they made that break. Stephen King was rejected nearly 1,000 times before finally being published. What belief.
For any genuinely talented writers out there, is crowdfunding or self-publishing the way forward, or should you hold out for a publishing deal if you’re that good?
I think the market has opened up fantastically for anyone in the arts. You have to understand that someone’s break whether in music or writing is likely to come down to one person’s opinion on one day. I often think of the literary agent who has had a fall out with their spouse the morning before they leave for work and then as they sit stewing at their desk, your manuscript is the first they read! The market is big enough for everyone, and I would simply implore people to believe and follow their dream however they get their work out there.
When will The Page released and where can we get it from?
The Radio is out now and available everywhere from Waterstones to Amazon to my publishers website. The Page (seemingly unrelated but part two of The The trilogy) is released on the 4th of February and is available at all the same places.
I am also running a huge competition, which will be launched on the release date of The Page which allows readers to share in my royalties. You can find more details at www.jonathanleeauthor.com/competition