Weird and Wonderful…Introducing Jonathan Pinnock
As writers, we all have tales of books we started a long time ago. We all want to get our work out there but find our resolve is swayed by trying to figure out our target market, who will buy it, where would it sit on the shelves in a bookstore. Jonathan Pinnock admits he had the same trouble.
Back in 2007 after reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell he bounced around some ideas with Toby Frost, a fellow Verulam Writers’ Circle (aka VWC) member and finally hit upon the idea of a regency novel with aliens. It took a while to move on to the next step. The first chapter and synopsis were eventually written and presented for a competition at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. He also entered the Shorter Short Story competition and won 3rd prize, which allowed him to switch his focus.
Like many of us, Jonathan found it was the daunting prospect of churning out a full-length novel that was curbing his creativity. The solution was obvious – concentrate on writing short stories, poetry and flash fiction.
Writing such short stories helped to develop the skill of writing short scenes, something that would soon pay dividends and the discovery of flash fiction and twitfic (stories told in one tweet) was something of a turning point. It wasn’t long before pieces of his work started appearing in magazines and on websites all over the literary world, including The Right Eyed Deer, Every Day Fiction, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Aphelion, Tales of the Decongested…the list is huge!
Prizes also started rolling in from the 2007 University of Hertfordshire Writing Award (3rd Place), City of Derby, (joint 2nd place), the Whittaker Prize…this is another huge list!
So, what’s his secret? Well, pressure is certainly a part of it. Jon finds that writing to competition deadlines and using prompts takes his writing in directions he could never have predicted. It also helps that he has a very open mind. He surfs the net just to see what’s out there and easily absorbs information. He devours comedy and finds that the obscure captures his imagination. The result is work that is eclectic, dabbles in magic realism, tweaks at ‘soft’ science fiction and sometimes is downright weird. In a good way.
Here’s a couple of examples, I’m sure you’ll see what I mean:
By 2009, Jon’s success had led to him meeting new writing friends and new opportunities started to appear. The idea for his alien book was still in the background but with the publication of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it seemed the boat had been missed. His peers at VWC disagreed and started to pester him to finish the book.
At first, Jonathan was resistant, but in a moment of frustration he took the slightly unorthodox decision to publish the entire book online. This was a brave decision because not only was the book still incomplete but he planned to publish twice a week. Ultimately, this was the secret of his success. He had applied the pressure that drives his seat of the pants imagination and suddenly things got moving.
By a pure quirk of fate, the website http://www.mrsdarcyvsthealiens.com/ was launched on Jane Austen’s birthday and the book was born.
In the months that followed, the story took shape, episode by episode like a modern day penny dreadful. With a following from his earlier publishing success word soon got round and the book neared completion.
But Jon wasn’t satisfied. His desire to entertain drove him to press on and he submitted the book to Proxima, the new fantasy imprint from Salt Publishing. On arrival, it was nearly dismissed as ‘just another mash-up’ but it soon became clear that there was more to the book. Jon’s talent lies in weaving fact and fiction together, blending in carefully timed humour, cameo references and tricky twists. The result is a thoroughly entertaining read packed with adventure, mayhem and heroics, far more than just an alien in an empire line frock!
Proxima chose the book for their launch and opted to publish it in print as well as in digital formats. The official launch party will be on Saturday October 1st at Fantasycon.
It is clear that Jonathan Pinnock is no one-trick pony. He is a modest writer who enjoys the freedom of possibility. He likes to play with his writing, mixing it up, using changes in pace, style, context. “That way,” he says, “there’s always something to appeal. If one part doesn’t appeal to the reader, the next might.”
There’s certainly plenty of evidence that the limits of Jon’s creative bubble have yet to be reached with additional promotional material for Mrs Darcy such as these:
and the hilarious ‘Wickhampedia’
Future work is already underway, with a science fiction novel plotted and early scenes written. There will be many more short stories too. There are several markets that Jonathan still wants to crack.
I asked Jon for any tips for those of us at the early stages of our writing careers. He said:
“Just keep trying. Spread submissions across markets that you consider ‘easy’ or ‘hard’, that way you’ll feel happy that you have stuff out there. Just keep writing because the more you play with words the better you get.”
Mrs Darcy versus The Aliens is out now. Jonathan Pinnock will be at Fantasycon and will also be presenting a workshop at Get Writing 2012 on Saturday, February 11, 2012.