Name: James Gault
Please give us a short introductory bio.
I’m an author of short stories, novels and English Language textbooks. I lived, worked and taught for many years in Prague, but now live and continue to write in the South of France.
I started writing seriously (no, wrong word, should be ‘consistently’ – I’ve never done anything SERIOUSLY) just before I retired from ELT teaching. I have published 3 novels – Teaching Tania, Ogg and The Redemption of Anna Petrovna. I have also written ELT books for Oxford University Press.
My short stories and articles have been published in various reviews and magazines. In 2007, I won the writing prize from the British Czech and Slovak Society for my short story 'Old Honza's Day Out'.
In my time I have been an IT specialist, a businessman and a teacher as well as a writer, and I’ve travelled extensively throughout Europe. I’ve taught English to students of many nationalities. I have an international outlook on life and my writing reflects both this and his other interests.
Apart from writing, my passions are politics, philosophy, film making, computer system development and my grandchildren. (Not in that order, honest, kids)
Where in the world are you?
I live in the South of France where it never rains – expect it did today… and yesterday…. and the day before. Nothing worse than having disillusioned preconceptions!
Where in the world would you like to be? Where I am now, but maybe somewhere a bit warmer for the winter?
Books – buy links:
Social Media (Please provide links & handles):
Website link: www.voxlit.com,
Blog Link: www.voxlit.com
Don’t have one favourite – I have lots of books I really like. As a Scot, I particularly love books someone else buys for me.
Favourite snack when writing:
Chocolate biscuits (or any kind of chocolate) The doc has forbidden me booze now, as I have a tendency to Gout. Chocolate is apparently OK (Phew!!!).
What do you write on – computer (what type) – software –pen and pencil – quill and vellum – and tell us why.
My laptop – because I have an IT background, because I change what I write a lot, because it is easier to publish from computer files – it’s just the most practical way for me. Oddly enough, when I worked in IT, I often wrote on the back of a fag packet. I’m more disciplined now.
Where do you write? (Can you post a photo?)
I have converted my garage into a library/office for writing, but it’s too cold in winter. So currently I do most of my work in my living room, and, yes, I can write with the TV on. (Due to my exceptional powers of concentration)
What are your current projects?
Three at the moment: A detective thriller – ‘Charlie Best’s Cellar’ to come out just after Easter, my literary e-zine The Voice of Literature, and setting up a cooperative of independent writers
Can you share a little of your current work with us (no more than 1000 words)?
He drove through the monochromatic streets with his police radio turned down and Radio Clyde turned up. Through his windscreen he could see a city of infinite variety: light grey to dark grey, drizzles to downpours, anoraks to hoodies, despair to hopelessness. But the loud popular music always cheered him up. He would need it; he was making his way to the darkest tones that Glasgow had to offer any intrepid tourist.
He slung the car over into a parking bay just off the main street somewhere down Shettleston way. With a bit of luck, most of it would still be there when he got back. It was a good place to start: bad, but not the worst part of the city. There was still Easterhouse and Springburn. He’d try them next. At the end of the street, there was an old disused fag factory with a nice wee sheltered corner just perfect for dossing drug addicts. You had to climb over the locked factory gate to get to it, but Charlie was used to that sort of thing. In Glasgow, everything was twice as difficult as it was anywhere else. Over he went.
Three intertwined dirty rags of coats were lying in the recessed entrance, escaping from most of the drizzle. Best counted three heads, six legs, five arms and a bit of a stump protruding from the bottom of the pile. He’d found who he’d been looking for, and woke it into life with a pretty firm kick to the stump. An angry face emerged from the heap, dragging a body and the stump with it.
“Aaw, for God’s sake gie’s peace, wull ye?”
“And a bright good morning to you, One-arm.”
“Oh, it’s yersel’, Mr Best. I thocht it wis…..”
Best interrupted him.
“Come over here for a minute.”
The stump looked back warily at the remains of the heap of humanity. It was still asleep and oblivious. His lopsided grin framed what was left of his blackened teeth. Charlie knew he was relieved. His informers didn’t mind talking to the police but it was better not to be seen.
Taking out his phone, he thrust the dead girl’s photo into One-arm’s face.
“Know her?” he asked.
“No noo, she’s deid, in’t she?” Best supposed this was what passed for a joke among the junkie fraternity.
“Very amusing, but did you know her before?”
“Never saw her in mah life.” He wasn’t lying.
“O.K. Thanks.” Charlie Best strolled off without a word. The little cripple was suddenly devastated; his next fix was walking away from him.
“Mr Best, Mr Best, I’ve got some news that micht interest you,” he wailed, but the policemen was already over the gate and on the way back to his car.
The detective had no better luck in Springburn, so there was nothing for it but to shoot out to the Easterhouse jungle. No way was he going to park his car there, he would just have to cruise the street and hope he got lucky. His chances were good though. This was a younger crowd of miscreants. They still lived with their ‘mammies’, and wandered through the housing scheme smoking joints, swallowing pills, sniffing powders and generally disseminating grief to their more or less law-abiding elders.
It was hard to distinguish one skinny hooded figure from another, but the one he was looking for had a distinctive limp, courtesy of an over-enthusiastic boot from Charlie himself when the little runt didn’t provide the answer he was looking for. It had been a fortunate accident; he could now be picked out a couple of hundred yards.
Charlie clocked his target after about five minutes, hobbling down the street in the company of a couple of other youths. He drove slowly past and made a longish circuit to allow the boy time to dump his companions. When he came round again his informer was alone, waiting further up the road for him. Best stopped the car, and wound down the window.
“Get in, Sammy.”
Sammy hurriedly opened the passenger door and slumped in the front seat, trying to keep his head well hidden. The car sped off. Best took them down on to the Edinburgh road and found a place to pull in off the road once he felt they were far enough away from Sammy’s usual haunts.
“Been behaving yourself, Sammy?”
“You know how it is, Mr Best. We’re no bad boys really, but there’s no’ much to dae a’ day.”
“You could get a job.”
“Aye, if only. Naebody from ma school’s fun a joab for aboot ten years.”
The boy was right, but Charlie Best was a cop and not a social worker or a politician. He was there to get information, not to sort out youth unemployment.
From Charlie Best’s Cellar by James Gault 2018 all rights reserved,
Why did you write that? What inspired it?
I wrote it because it was what my imagination said was happening in the story, but what inspired it? – I’m a working class boy who went to university and worked in Glasgow for years, and I always felt that all West of Scotland people were particularly self-deprecating while at the same time proud of their ‘place’. I felt I could harness this sense of irony to create some amusing characters in an amusing setting, and maybe make some comments on the social conditions that have made Scotland a country with a completely different set of values from England. But maybe someone will tell me working class England is very similar.
This is my least intellectual book (I’m usually influenced by philosophical and sociological ideas) and is mostly just a story. But it might be my best so far. But I suppose all writers think that about their latest work.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Yes, write for yourself. If you’re not enjoying yourself as you write it, how can you expect others to enjoy reading it? Also, don’t expect sales to come easy, marketing is harder than writing the stuff. You’ll need to have an independent source of income; there’s more chance of winning the lottery than having instant success. And get involved with other writers, you can learn from them and they can support you when you’re down..
Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I really don’t believe in ‘favourites’. You learn something from every author.
I like satirical humour, from the great old authors like Charles Dickens, Voltaire, Oscar Wilde, Trollope. I like writers who can be very funny while being deadly serious.
But I like a lot of other stuff too. Crime, Political Thrillers, ‘literary’ novels, fantasy. I have a penchant for books that make me smile, but don’t stick exclusively to comedy.
Read anything and everything – that’s my motto.
Can you tell us a writerly joke?
Donald Trump? No, I can’t do jokes, unfortunately. I’d never make it as a stand up. I try to get humour out of characters and situations. I hope you can see that in the excerpt.
Anything else on your mind?
The ongoing threat of senility is always on your mind when you get to my age – I’m just trying to keep the brain active – maybe that’s the main function of writing at my age.