I had the pleasure of interviewing author, Tony Gilbert yesterday. His debut short story, The Cloud Diary, was published in late 2012 and has some rave reviews indeed.
I have read this and it is a powerful piece, told from a child’s perspective. Tony Gilbert catches the innocence of a child’s thought process brilliantly and his journey to understand why things have happened pulls on your heart strings. The theme of loss is prevalent and dealt with so sensitively and the little boy comes across as a brave young boy without a doubt. You have to applaud Gilbert’s simple approach that delivers a powerful piece of fiction – yet it looks simple, but on closer inspection, you can see how complicated the structure is – and it works so well. Even with the opening line, you can’t help but feel pulled in.
I caught a cloud the other day…
Told through the eyes of a six year old boy, this short story deals with bereavement, depression and love.
The Cloud Diary is currently for sale only in ebook format on Amazon and is raising money for Winston’s Wish, a charity helping to rebuild children’s lives following the death of a parent or sibling.
The Cloud Diary is your first venture as a published author; tell us a little bit about the story.
The Cloud Diary is a short story about a six year old boy who is learning to cope with the loss of his mother.
The boy tells us the story of how he finds a cloud which helps him, not only to deal with his feelings but also to help his father deal with his own.
It is a very touching and endearing short story, how did the idea come about?
The idea for the story actually came about after reading a writing challenge prompt on tumblr. The prompt was rain. I wanted to stand out a bit, so I didn’t want to write a story about thunderstorms or strange weather patterns. Unfortunately, as it turned out, I was the only person to enter the challenge but at least I came out of it with a good story.
Did writing in the first person (as the young child) come naturally to you, or was it difficult at first to adopt a child’s perspective?
Fortunately it came quite naturally. I think as a writer, you never grow up completely so I am a big kid inside. Not only that but I have three fantastic children, boy and girl twins of nine and a son of 18 months so I understand the way they speak and explain things.
The theme of loss is not only present with the loss of his mother, but also the loss of his relationship with his father. Did you have a definitive plan from the start or did you find yourself surprised with how the book turned out?
One of my main faults as a writer is that I don’t plan very well. I often plan the start and the middle but I can never think of an ending. I think that this may be because I learn about the characters through the writing and see where it takes me. With The Cloud Diary, the ending wasn’t necessarily a surprise but it ended in a way that pleased me.
I’ve read that part of the sale of this book will go towards charity, is that right?
That’s correct, Dan. 50% of all profits from this eBook go to the fantastic charity, Winston’s Wish. I had decided a long time ago to write something in order to raise money for charity so this seemed the ideal opportunity. When I heard about Winston’s Wish, I knew that it was the right charity to help.
Who are your influences?
I am influenced by many different authors, too many to mention here. As a child I read everything that Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton wrote and loved their fun and exciting writing style.
More recently, up until about two years ago, all I ever read was horror. I love Stephen King, James Herbert et al. Then I was introduced to a Life of Pi which I found on my Dad’s bookshelf and the world of books just opened up. Since then, I have read every genre I could. Some of my favourite books include The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason, The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.
Tell us about your future projects. Surely, with the fantastic reviews of The Cloud Diary, you must have something else planned?
I do. I am currently working on a children’s story (untitled as yet), a fantasy story about knights and elves and trolls and goblins. It is a fun and exciting journey through incredible lands with loads of epic battles and strange monsters.
Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. I like to leave for work a bit earlier, just so I can sit in my van while I wait for my colleague and just think. I like to take long walks with my family and always come back with a few snippets of ideas. It is not only the quiet times that develop ideas though. I spend a lot of time, during work, in busy gyms, and it is amazing how many ideas you can get from overhearing bits of conversations.
Are you influenced by things around you or do you spend time doing research?
I only started writing properly in June 2012 so I have been mainly writing about things that I have knowledge of or that require little research. However, I recently read The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, both by Ken Follett and would love to write an epic story like those, a tale to span over decades. I have a few ideas for this and am currently in the research process.
I’ve heard that you took part in NaNoWriMo last year, how did you find it? Was it helpful and would you take part again?
NaNoWriMo is great. I did take part, without really thinking about it which was a bit of a mistake. A fun mistake though. I and an online friend of mine decided to step out of our comfort zones and each write a romance novel. For the first two weeks, I found it really quite easy and was surprised to hit 30,000 words. Then I hit a wall and only managed another 6,000 words by the end of the month. This is where planning comes in and I know this now for the next one.
Entering the world of Self-Publishing can’t have been easy? If you have any advice for writers who are thinking about entering that type of publishing, what would it be?
Go for it! Self-publishing isn’t difficult, it’s the promotion that’s hard. So if anyone has any ideas on how to promote yourself, please, let me know!
I’m sure you’ll agree that that was a great insightful interview indeed! It’s interesting to see that Tony Gilbert is working on further projects. If The Cloud Diary is anything to go by, I’m sure they will go on to delight readers everywhere. You can visit his website and Blog for further insights as well as snippets of his work, he’s also on twitter and you can view his Goodreads profile too.
TONY GILBERT IS ALSO running a competition to WIN a copy of The Cloud Diary on his Goodreads page. Click here to enter.
To buy from Amazon and help raise money for bereaved children, please find the right Amazon link for you and let me know what you think. Please help Tony by leaving a review on Amazon too. Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.fr