Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Author Interview: John Ault

I am pleased to welcome John Ault to my blog today, to celebrate the launch of his new book Thirty Days in February. I have bought my own copy of this book and haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I think you will agree it has a fantastic cover! Anyway, enough from me, let's get on with the interview.

Hello, John, and welcome to my blog.
Please tell us about your new book. 

Well the book involves a young MI6 agent who becomes embroiled in an international crisis which takes him initially to Singapore and British Hong Kong. The book is set in the post-Cold War period in the mid-1990s when international tensions are no longer concerned with the Soviet Union but still involve nuclear proliferation and Britain’s response to it.

I am intrigued to know whether you found the process of writing your first fiction book different to your previous non-fiction works.

Yes, very different. When you are writing academically your arguments are based in evidence and the research you have conducted. When writing fiction I found it a much more personal process. Actually writing about emotions, people and events is much more intense really.

Did you draw on personal experiences when you are creating your characters and plot lines?

John Ault
Yes, absolutely. I have visited all the countries that are visited by the lead character in the book. His travels are my travels so they should be realistic. Like most writers I have also based the characters on people I have met or know well. I suspect people who know me will see a lot of me in the main character – if a slightly younger version!

What next? Could you give us a little summary of any other books in progress?

I am pondering whether the lead character could appear in another book. Certainly I have ideas for another, probably a prequel, and am drafting ideas for how it might work in a similar travel diary format that this book is written in.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Well one review, by popular author Iain King, said it better than I could: ‘The book is loaded with wonderful portraits of exotic locations, throughout the Eastern hemisphere and faraway oceans – as just a travelogue it would make for a compelling read. But the author has weaved in geopolitics and history, giving this book that little bit extra. Compelling.’ Sorry, that’s not one sentence!

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Write your book – write it the way you like. However, once you have written it ask close friends and family to read it before you publish it. Ask them to be honest, not kind, and really find out from them what they liked and didn’t like.

It’s much better to hear what people you trust think before you unleash your book on the world and can’t change it.

Thank you for your answers, John, and also for joining me here on Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.

John has kindly said he will do a giveaway of one paperback copy of his book. This is a worldwide giveaway! Please see the Rafflecopter below to enter.

Alternatively you can buy a copy of the book yourself from, or your local Amazon site.

You can find John online in the following places:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Theatre Review: The Showstoppers, Oxford Playhouse 23 January 2016

Image copyright The Showstoppers

On Friday 23 January 2016 I saw The Showstoppers at the Playhouse in Oxford with a good friend of mine.

The Showstopper musical works by having a group of improvisation experts on stage. The first character we meet is a "writer" who introduces the show and how it works, and gets involved throughout the show by stopping everything that is happening on stage and injecting new ideas and challenges for the actors. The whole show is based on audience ideas which are then voted on by the audience. In the first half this was done by the well-tested hands in the air method, and in the second half, ideas were gathered by Tweeting suggestions during the interval.

Image copyright The Showstoppers
I am a massive fan of musicals and although I have been to the theatre hundreds of times I have never seen anything like this before. I have also never grinned my way through an entire show before, at the sheer brilliance of the whole thing. Styles were taken from several different musicals and a couple of my all time favourites were chosen... during the songs done in the style of Blood Brothers and Les Mis, I was literally crying with laughter at some of the details the improvisers added... the performers and musicians were so talented and quick to develop the show as it went along. It was unbelievable to watch to be honest.

How they harmonise, how they bounce ideas off each other instantly and know when to take over singing, how the musicians can tell where the song is going to go, is a mystery. I can only imagine it takes a lot of skill and hours of practice to work like this so effectively, but this is a show I would recommend to anyone who loves musicals or improv, not that you will see the same show I saw, Stiff!!!, as the show is different every time, and the Showstopper Squad is huge so no doubt there would be different performers involved as well.

In case you're wondering, Stiff!!! was a musical comedy set in an undertakers! I wonder what they will do next time!

If you want to enjoy this incredible experience yourself, head over to the Showstoppers website and you can find out where they are appearing in the upcoming shows tab. I am 100% definitely going to try and get to another show by this amazingly talented team.

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