Published: 28th November 2017
London, 2046. The British Republic has a new First Lady. She’s Californian, ‘in-your-face, for sure’ and she’s got big plans for a Buckingham Palace refurb. When her three Chihuahuas go missing, one man is determined to avoid getting dragged into it all. His name is Pond. Howie Pond – presidential spokesperson, retired secret agent and cat lover.
Meanwhile, Howie’s wife Britt is handed her first assignment as a National Security and Intelligence Service rookie – to solve the mystery of the missing canine trio.
Will Howie manage to slope off to the pub before he can be roped into help? Will Britt unmask the dognapper and grab the glory? Find out, in the latest, crazy comedy-thriller from dog-loving British author Paul Mathews.
What process do you follow for your writing? Are you a planner or do you just let it flow? Straight to PC or pen and paper?
First, I choose a title. Then I mull over the plot and characters for a couple of weeks. Then I scribble down handwritten notes, draw character diagrams, and type my thoughts into a Word document. Once it’s reasonably clear, I plan it all chapter-by-chapter and then start writing.
I also keep a spreadsheet showing word count for each chapter so far and projected length. That has really helped me. Filling in the blanks is like opening the windows on an advent calendar – the nearer you get to the end, the more exciting it gets!
Do you attend writing/author focused conferences? Which is your favourite?
In my PR days, I used to arrange conferences. I never really saw much benefit in trekking all the way to a soulless venue to sit and listen to someone talking at you. So, I do all my liaison with other writers over the internet and via message boards. There are three of us who email on an almost daily basis about advertising and other writers’ concerns. It makes those long days in the home office much more bearable.
How many manuscripts do you have that you never submitted? Will you consider approaching your publisher with them now?
I’ve never submitted a manuscript to a publisher in my life. Self-publishing was always going to be the route for me. I employ a great editor and cover designer, I’m in charge of all my marketing and PR and I get real-time sales figures. I can’t see what else a publisher would do for me – other than cream off my profits. However, if one with a big cheque book came along with promises of a huge advance, I might reconsider!
What one piece of advice do you wish you received before you started writing?
If you’re writing an e-book, length doesn’t matter so much as you think. Shorter novels are great for everyone. They’re less work for authors to write, edit and publish. And they are easier for readers to finish reading. That means they move on to your next book quicker!
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?
The first chapter of your book is an advert for your writing skills. The opening couple of paragraphs should hook the reader into the story and characters, and convey your style of writing. (I rewrote the opening chapter of my first novel, ‘We Have Lost The President’, so many times, I lost count!) Your cover and blurb should also draw people into your world. If your cover is messy, blurb unclear or, heaven forbid, it contains typos, those dreams of literary stardom will stay just that – dreams.
What is your favourite thing about the whole writing process?
Marvelling at the finished product and thinking, ‘I wrote that!’
Was there a particular book that made you sit up and think ‘that’s it, I’m going to be an author too’?
It was less a book and more a job. I was a Government press officer for nearly 20 years and I was reaching burnout with the long hours and constant demands. I needed an excuse for a career break and writing a novel was the perfect answer. I took an 18-month sabbatical to write and publish ‘We Have Lost The President’. After a slow start, it began to do very well in the US and continues to do so, along with the other books in the series. I never went back to the UK civil service and now I’m a making a living as a full-time write
Who do you envisage as playing your characters if your book was ever turned into a movie?
I’m not sure. But I would insist on being in the movie, as part of the rights deal! I was an active member of an amateur dramatics group for several years and comedy characters were my thing. I’m not sure who I would play, though. Certainly not Howie Pond, the main character. Maybe a policeman, as that’s what my father used to be!
What do you consider is your greatest accomplishment?
As I write, my first three books are the top 3 titles in Amazon US’s ‘British Humor & Satire’ category and the series has sold more than 20,000 copies in the US. It seems a long time since September 2016, when I was selling two copies a week. I’ve been able to achieve this through marketing – and writing very funny books, I like to think!
Paul Mathews is a quite funny British guy who’s managed to escape his day job and is currently on the run as a comedy novelist. His sharp, satirical – often surreal – sense of humour draws on 20 years as a British Government press officer, during which time he encountered politicians, senior civil servants, HR managers, and lots of other people who really sucked at their jobs. His popular ‘We Have Lost’ comedy-thriller series set in 2040s London, starring beleaguered presidential spokesman and wannabe secret agent Howie Pond, currently comprises four titles with more on the way. Paul has read all the books at least ten times and highly recommends them. Make him happy by signing up for his ‘Very Funny Newsletter’ here: http://www.quitefunnyguy.com/newsletter. If you don’t want to sign up for it, stay calm and do nothing. Paul also owns a cat, Lulu, who works as his assistant. All fan mail to her, please.