Thursday 12 March 2020


Justin David, author of The Pharmacist which featured on the blog yesterday, answers a few questions .....

Can you give us a quick biography of yourself? Is the writing full-time?

There’s a day job for three days a week, which keeps the roof over my head. But that’s the
least interesting this about me. The rest of the time I juggle a number of creative exploits. I
run with Nathan Evans. I’m a photographer and designer: And as much as I can, I write.

Your debut book is THE PHARMACIST. 
Can you pitch it to potential readers in a short paragraph?

Oh gosh, the elevator pitch never was my strong point.
How’s this: Sex, drugs and unrequited love. Aa homoerotic bildungsroman set in pre-gentrification East London. Think Death in Venice meets Harold and Maude in Columbia Road Flower Market.

Did the tale end up being the book you anticipated at the start of the process?

The Pharmacist was a complete surprise really… a little like a pregnancy that hadn’t been
planned. It began as a much longer book with many more characters. It was a sprawling,
shapeless thing, like a bush that needed pruning. Once I’d seen the guts of the story, I was
able to extract this shorter piece that took the natural shape of a novella.

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

I’m clinically dissatisfied.

What’s the best thing about writing?

The unlimited budget. I have the most expensive sets, costumes, actors. I can place a story
in any part of the world and not worry about inhibiting financial issues. Fiction is incredibly

The worst?

Do I have to choose just one thing? Rejection is a bastard. It’s a very lonely pursuit. It’s not
fairly remunerated. It’s a completely irrational and neurotic thing to do—lock yourself in a
room, alone, for hours, putting hundreds, thousands of words down on paper, words that
perhaps no one will ever read. It’s an obsession.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

Cleanness by Garth Greenwell
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak
The Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

Who do you read and enjoy? Is there anyone I should be reading who has snuck under my

The best books are the ones which make you feel understood. It’s a strange feeling when
you read something that you could have experienced yourself and suddenly you don’t feel
so alone in this vast universe. Some authors I choose specifically because I know they speak
to me and my community. Some authors are just so good at capturing something so
idiosyncratic but can make that idea feel so universal.

These sorts of questions pain me. There are so many good books and I can’t mention them
all. I feel bad about the ones I don’t include. If you’ve not read them already, here are some
gems that should not pass you by:
The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell
In the Eyes of Mr Fury by Philip Ridley
The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Of someone else’s? No, I don’t think so. Why would I? They are other people’s stories.
Though there are authors who I admire, whose work I look up to. In Cleanness by Garth
Greenwell, there is a chapter quite early on in the book that made me sob. The writing
really moved me, it was so powerful. It really got inside my head. I wish I could do that.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Swimming in the sea.

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?

120 Beats Per Minute. Heartbreaking.

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the David household?

I don’t own a TV. I sometimes watch stuff online. My last burning obsession was Breaking
Bad but that was some years ago.


What’s your favourite vegetable?

Roasted potatoes.

When did you last have a fist fight?

1997. The ex-boyfriend of my then boyfriend attacked me outside a gay bar. It was more
mascara wands at dawn than a fist fight. Imagine a catfight between Alexis and Kristle

Have you ever been thrown out of a bar or a club?

Let’s not go there.

Do you have any tattoos?

Covered in them.

What was your first pet’s name?


What’s the worst meal you have ever eaten?

There have been many bad ones. I don’t remember the worst but they were all cooked by

Do you have any irrational fears?

Many. But I say they are perfectly rational. Death by flood. Death by plague. The world
being taken over by evil overlords.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?


When did you last tell a lie? 

I’m a writer of fiction. It’s all lies.

Many thanks to Justin for his time.

The Pharmacist is available from Amazon, Gay’s the Word & 

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  1. Interesting interview, as ever, so thanks, both. I know what you mean about books starting out as sprawling sagas and having to be pared down. I've had to do that, too. But it is great when a story takes hold unexpectedly, and then takes on a life of its own. It's quite a feeling, isn't it? Wishing you success. Thanks, Col for sharing the interview.

    1. Margot, you're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed it.