Interrogating Jon Rance, the man who's taken ebook-land by storm and is branching out into the real world
How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
Well, I'm lucky in that what I've written so far people seem to want to read. For me personally, I write for me. I write exactly what I like to read and it just so happens I tend to like quite popular fiction. I think if I was writing a sub-genre or something very specific and non-commercial, it might be different, but I'm writing romantic comedy/commercial fiction. It's escapism, entertainment and I think when you do that, you can write exactly what you want. At least, I hope so. It seems to be working at the moment anyway - he says with fingers crossed.
What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.
I've always loved comedy. Growing up it was the one thing that sort of defined me in so many ways. When I look back on my childhood and teenage years, I can associate it with watching comedy on television and reading comedy novels. For me, writing comedy is the biggest challenge, with probably the least reward. I think it's far harder to make people laugh than cry. Crying is easy, but making people laugh-out-loud requires hard graft. So I guess what excites and attracts me is making people laugh. If I can do that, I've done my job. I also hope my work is meaningful enough and has enough depth that it stays with people too. The best comedy comes from great characters and great characters have flaws and complex emotional levels - it isn't just knob gags!
Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?
Yes. I'm not a very organised writer. I probably have about twenty unfinished novels in my computer, along with pages of notes, names, ideas etc. The good thing is eventually I always seem to find a place for them in my work. I don't write things down on paper any more. I think a lot and then write it all down on my computer. It's shambolic, but I don't know how else to work.
How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?
With This Thirtysomething Life, so much of my own life was in there and although Harry and I are very different, a lot of the thoughts and worries he has, I had to. It was essentially based on my own experiences of becoming a father, so quite a few things were taken straight from my own life. Of course, most of it is fiction and the characters aren't directly based on anyone, but strange hybrids of people I know, have known etc. In terms of characters I'd like to be, definitely Harry's best mate Ben. I wrote Ben as the me I'd like to be. Successful, well travelled, adventurous, tall and handsome. Unfortunately, I'm far more like Harry.
Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?
You'll have to ask her, but I'm guessing yes. I do get very into my work and especially with Harry and Emily, because they were 'sort of' based on us.
What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?
I should probably say I'm extremely diverse, well read and enjoy reading obscure 17th Century French novels. The truth is I did English Lit at University and so I read a lot of the classics and the 5000 page Russian novels then. So now, I pretty much stay within my own genre. I read commercial fiction. Partly because it's what I write and I like to study it and see what they're doing right. Also because I rather enjoy it. I think one day I'm going to return to the classics and the more intellectual novels that I ignore now, but for the time being it's entertainment, comedy and books that make me happy. My most recent reads include, One Day by David Nicholls. The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs, by Christina Hopkinson. Moab is my Washpot, by Stephen Fry. Beta Male, by Iain Hollingshead. Wish you Were Here, by Mike Gayle. After the Party, by Lisa Jewell.
What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?
I don't really. I think the X Factor can only be decided by the readers. All I can do is write the best book I can, give it a spiffy cover and some decent blurb. After that it's all down to the readers. If they like it they read it and tell all their friends. If they don't, they give you a bad review on Amazon and tell no-one. I think it's that simple.
How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
Stupid I didn't find it myself, but also glad they went to the trouble of telling me.
What do you like most about visiting KUF/forums?
The people. When I joined I wasn't sure what to expect, but the people I've met have been wonderful. I love having that safety net of like-minded people, all looking out for each other and wanting all of us to be a success. Writing can be a lonely process, so having KUF means I don't have to struggle through it on my own.
What is on your near horizon?
Well, as it happens, you're interviewing me at the right time. I just signed a two book deal with Hodder and Stoughton for This Thirtysomething Life and my next novel, Happy Endings. It's a very exciting time for me personally. I'll have both books available as ebooks and also as paperbacks at some point in the next year. We're still working through the details, but I'm hopeful and excited about the future. All I can say is that I wouldn't have got a book deal if it wasn't for the success I've had on Amazon and I don't think I would have had that without the support of so many wonderful people I've met on KUF.
Where can we find you for more information?
My website www.jonrance.comis always a good resource for all things Jon Rance.
I'm a tweeter @JRance75
Facebook me too Jon Rance
And, of course, any questions you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
It's been a pleasure. Time for a cup of tea, I think.