Monday, 1 July 2013

Interview with Jonathan Hill

Today I'm posting an interview with creator of the brilliant and popular and award nominated, 'Maureen' books.

Yesterday - Sunday 30th June was the first anniversary of Jonathan's first book 'Eclectic' and to celebrate Jonathan has made it free until the 4th July. If you've not read it, you ought to. I read it a while ago and enjoyed the variety of stories immensely. Plus, its a chance to meet Maureen for the first time! Click on the cover to take advantage of the offer!

May I introduce Mr Jonathan Hill.

Tell me about yourself.
I'm a writer from Manchester. I have published two novellas in the comic series of Maureen books, and also two eclectic collections of short stories. I have a fairly stressful (but rewarding) full-time job so my writing is a welcome escape from daily life. I hope others enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them. 

It’s fair to say you’re best known for creating the magnificent Maureen. From where or who did you derive the inspiration for her? That's a good question and one I'm not sure I can really answer satisfactorily. I've tried to pinpoint the time when Maureen first popped into my head and I really have no idea! The only conclusion I can come to is that my subconscious has stored the oddest and silliest bits of people I have encountered and at some point my strange mind has glued them all together to create this rather monstrous (but well-meaning) woman.

What I find very frightening is that many readers have said that they know 'a Maureen' or recognise Maureen-like behaviour in their own friends and family. The government is tied up with matters such as global warming and terrorism. Maybe they need to rearrange their priorities. The presence of just one Maureen in the world is enough to pose a significant threat. If there are lots of people running about displaying Maureen-like traits then god help us all!

As a fine comedian yourself, who and what makes you laugh, and why? I take it you are referring to my groan-inducing puns when you say I'm a fine comedian?! I have a fairly wacky sense of humour, which is probably why Maureen finds herself subjected to bizarre situation after bizarre situation!

I laugh at lots really. My favourite TV comedy is Fawlty Towers. I’ve seen a whole bunch of stand-up comedians live; I can’t pick a favourite but Tim Vine is a particular highlight. At one point he was Guinness World Record holder of the most jokes told in an hour (he may still hold the title – I’m not sure) and it’s a marvel to watch him live. Joke after joke after joke; you are battered with puns, comedy songs and great visual gags and continuously laugh till you are drained. He’s what you might call ‘clean’ too – no swearing or pushing the boundaries. Having said that, I’m a fan of dark comedy too. I love things that make you laugh but in the same breath you think to yourself, should I really be laughing?! Getting On is a delightfully dark TV comedy set on an NHS ward. The way the staff, doctors and patients behave is so true to life and it’s terribly funny but at the same time poignant, even tragic. The best comedy has real human emotion behind it, I think.

And as a theatre fan, I love a good stage comedy. Last year I watched Michael Frayn’s Noises Off twice in the West End. It’s just superb and one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on stage. The show is divided into three acts. Act 1 is an amateur theatre company rehearsing a scene in a play, Act 2 is the same scene being played out to a ‘theatre audience’ but as seen from backstage where bitching and acting rivalry takes over and Act 3 is the same scene AGAIN but shown near the end of the run, where the whole thing is falling apart with the cast hating one another and injuries abounding! It’s a farce that simply can’t be beaten.

Tell us about your latest book and what have you got planned to release next?
I recently published ‘Beyond Eclectic’, which is a dark collection of short stories. It opens with a couple’s sleep being shattered by a mysterious night visitor and ends with the story of a surprisingly devious window cleaner, via a terrifying lollipop man, an aging couple who simply don’t talk to each other and, of course, Maureen!

Next up is ‘Maureen and The Big One’, where Maureen goes on holiday to Blackpool, which turns out to be a significant place in her past. Place your bets now as to whether or not it goes smoothly. I can tell you it’s a seaside trip she will most definitely not forget!

I’m also working on a novel, the genre of which is family drama/thriller – very early stages yet though!

Aside from reading and writing, what else do you like to do?
After the day-job, reading and writing are taken out of the equation, there really isn't much time left! I enjoy photography and love experimenting with my digital SLR camera. The best shots I take are quite often unplanned or by chance. Sometimes you take a photograph and zoom in later on to find an incredible detail the naked eye would easily miss.

I am a keen theatregoer and try to see as many plays as possible. I see the odd musical ('odd' meaning 'occasional' here, but I have seen the occasional odd musical too!) but I prefer plays. I make several London trips each year too and see a run of shows each night for a week. By the end, I'm usually shattered but I have seen some absolutely brilliant theatre that way in the West End. The quality of acting is often sublime.

If you or anyone were to take Maureen out on a date, where would you take her and why?
Well firstly I'd choose someone else to take Maureen out in my place! I’d advise that somebody to have made a will and have solid insurance plans in place.

Hmm, this is such a good question and I’m not sure I have a good answer. I mean, where do you take someone as disaster-prone as Maureen? She’s a very cultured lady (or so she thinks) so she’d have to be taken to the theatre maybe or an art gallery (as long as it’s not modern art!). Yes, a public place with expensive hangings and an atmosphere of quiet. What could possibly go wrong?

To be on the safe side, there would have to be a hospital within easy reach of any date destination!

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would they call it?
Blimey, another great question! How about ‘The Hill is alive with the sound of writing’? No, that’s terrible. Maybe ‘Maureen and Me’ so she doesn’t kick off. Or ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ as that combines my humour writing with my day-job. But I’d probably switch it round to: ‘Medicine is the Best Laughter’. Why? Because it makes no sense and so appeals to my sense of humour. And because I’m a writer and I have the right to play around with words!

You can find Jonathan out more about Jonathan and his writing on the webpage below!