Monday, 18 August 2014


Scottish author and man of mystery - Alan Jones whose debut book The Cabinetmaker was kind enough to humour me when I tossed him my questions regarding his reading and writing habits.

Alan's website is here.

My review of The Cabinetmaker is here.

Is the writing a full-time or a sideline-passion-hobby? What’s the day job?

I have a full time job. Due to the gritty nature of my writing, I don't want to offend any of my customers, so at present I wish my identity to remain hidden from view. I absolutely love writing, and would give up my day job if I had a successful book. I'm not naive enough to expect this to happen, but it would be nice if it did.  I'd say it's not the money, but that's not entirely true. If I wasn't be any worse off, that would be enough.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Realising that although I am not the finished article, I can write interesting and compelling narrative and dialogue.

From start to finish how long did The Cabinetmaker take from conception to completion?

About ten years. About 90% of it was written in the last one of those years. Getting started and believing I could write was the biggest things.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

It varies enormously depending on work etc.  I keep my ipad by my bed, and about a third of my writing happens if I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.

Do you insert family, friends and colleagues into your characters? Would they recognise themselves?

I don't think so, but there are a lot of characters I've come across over the years that I've adapted for my books

Are there any subjects off limits as far as your writing is concerned?

Anything to do with the paranormal. I'm just not interested. Although there is the odd book (or film) that I will read or watch eg Carrie where I can suspend disbelief for a while.

What are the last three books you’ve read?

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas Home, Holes by Louis Sachar and Natural Causes by James Oswald. I enjoyed them all.

Who do you read and enjoy?

A bit of everything. I've purposely didn't read any Scottish Crime before writing my first book so that I could have my own style, good or bad.  I love Irvine Welsh, but many authors I keep on my bookshelves are not recent. John Updike, Nicholas Monsorrat, James Clavell, John Irving, Neville Shute, John Steinbeck, Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis, William Boyd, Ian Fleming and some sci-fi from Asimov and John Wyndham. Other than that, I dip into a random selection of books that I pick up here and there. I find myself reading a little less since I have started writing in earnest over the last few years. Just a time thing, really.

Do you have any literary heroes?

Irvine Welsh. I think he's a genius.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

The Shawshank Redemption

Favourite activity when not working?  

I'm torn between football, furniture-making and going out in my boat, but I've recently had to pack in the football at the age of 53 with a recurrent ankle injury, so I suppose one of the other two.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

My second book is with 12 proof readers at the moment. I'm still tinkering with it, re-editing and re-editing. I am hoping to publish it by Christmas.

If I check back in a couple of years’ time, where do you hope to be with the writing?

I have outlines/ideas for half a dozen books. I'm trying to hone my literary skills and produce the best books I can.  I'm hoping they will be good enough for people to turn round and say they are worth reading. And help me retire early and write full time.  But I know it's a long shot!

Many thanks to "Alan" for taking time out to answer my questions. 


  1. Very interesting - and good for him for following his dream.

    1. Moira, I'm full of admiration for people who pursue their dreams. Good luck to him (them). I think it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there to be mostly ignored or dis-regarded, or very often when people do pay attention to you, criticised.

  2. "Getting started and believing I could write was the biggest things." That is so motivating and, for me, the takeaway from this interview. Thank you, Col.

    1. Prashant, I'm happy if you can take some inspiration from Alan's outlook and experiences. Happy days!

  3. Great interview, Col! I love that combination of interest in football and furniture making, and Prashant's right. This is really inspiration. Thanks to both of you.

  4. I've said it before... you ask good questions. And I enjoyed the author's answers.

    1. Tracy thank you. I will be having a brainstorming session with myself (shouldn't take too long - very small brain) to come up with some additional ones that might provoke some insights that interest me.