I am thrilled to take part in the Drift Stumble Fall blog tour. The book is available the 12th of April, 2018 through Hideaway Fall, and today I have a wonderful interview with author M Jonathan Lee for you.
Drift Stumble Fall
By M. Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility. From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richard’s existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.
Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road. From the outside, Bill’s world appears filled with comfort and peace. Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined. Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on. As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richard’s bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings. As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other people’s lives are not always what they seem.
Interview With M. Jonathan Lee
Before we get into books, I know that you are a very active mental health awareness campaigner and advocate. Could you tell us a bit more about that and Mind, Time to Change and Rethink today?
Yeah, sure. I lost my brother to suicide in 2004, just before my twins were born. Ten years earlier he’d already tried to take his own life (surviving a jump from a multi-storey) so mental health has always been something huge in my life. I was at a very low point when I wrote my first novel and in hindsight saw it as my legacy. Writing, without question, saved my life. I have written for the above named charities and I am working with Mind now to launch a mental health website. Something new, to keep people alive.
Were you able to draw on some of your own personal experiences while developing Drift Stumble Fall and the protagonist Richard?
Yep, absolutely. When I was very depressed, I remember clearly driving past Christmas lights in people’s windows and absolutely wishing I was them. It all looked so warm and cosy. So desirable. I would have traded lives at that moment, without even knowing what their lives were like.
What was your favorite aspect of writing Drift Stumble Fall, was there perhaps a favorite scene or specific elements that you enjoyed the most?
That’s a great question. I absolutely feel that DSF is a story of positivity. I really do. At the time I was writing it, I’d say to my wife, this is a story of hope. I loved throwing in the scenes where the family watch Jurassic Park and Titanic. Though, I absolutely loved writing Bill and Rosie’s story.
When I read, character development is everything. There has to be a certain amount of viability and connection. How do you ensure that your characters remain relatable to readers?
I always write from the perspective that I am simply chronicling something that is happening in front of me. Almost like watching a play. I am a very down to earth, observant person from the north of England. Most of my characters I have met somewhere down the line and I can almost hear them speaking when I write.
Now that you have published several titles, how has your writing process changed, or has it?
Certainly. I could spend an evening telling people how not to write. My first novels were written chronologically, with meticulous time spent making sure every sentence was perfect. There are two issues here. The first is that if you write in order you may get in from an awful day and then have to write a happy scene. This automatically causes issues because you have to try to change your mindset. Instead, if its been a bad day, I write something bad. The piecing together of the novel comes at the end. Secondly, if a sentence doesn’t work in thirty seconds, I highlight it and move on. That way everything flows. When I come to the edit I have maybe a hundred sentences to change.
I have to often wonder how authors feel about their own books being reviewed. It has to be a somewhat emotional or perhaps stressful process. Do you read your book reviews and if so, how do you handle any criticism that you encounter?
Yes, I do, and I suppose I wish I didn’t. Writing is my life; I love it. So when a new novel comes out I read perhaps that first thirty or forty reviews to make sure that people understand what I was trying to put across. If they do I’m happy. I don’t mind a bad review, after all I am comfortable that everyone can’t like everything.
How long do you spend researching before starting a new story or is this an ongoing process?
It is totally an ongoing process. I spend no time with research because I write about every day life. I write about things that happen around me, with an added twist of course.
If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, would you?
That’s a fantastic question. Hmm. The answer is a definite no, but only because the earlier books are a snapshot in time of how I wrote then. Don’t get me wrong I am hugely proud of the first two but there are parts now, that I would write differently. Of course, part three of the trilogy is yet to come.
As a writer, which books or authors have you drawn the most inspiration from? Any recommendations?
I’ve always loved Mark Haddon. I love how he forms sentences. I also love Yann Martell and have read everything Nick Hornby.
Last but least, I always ask, do you drink tea and if so, what is your favorite blend?
I love tea. Almost black one sugar. And simple Yorkshire Tea, of course.
About the Author
M Jonathan Lee is a Yorkshire-based author and mental health awareness campaigner. He began writing seriously in 2006, shortly after the suicide of his brother, Simon, and his own struggle with anxiety and depression. It took nearly five years for Jonathan to write his first novel, The Radio – a black- comedy which deals with suicide which was shortlisted for the Novel Prize 2012 (for unpublished authors) and subsequently published in 2013.
Jonathan campaigns tirelessly to remove the stigma associated with mental health problems and works closely with various mental health charities including Mind, Time to Change and Rethink, frequently blogs for the Huffington Post and is a regular guest on BBC Radio Sheffield talking about mental health. He regularly speaks in local schools and colleges on writing and mental health and is currently spearheading a local outreach project in which local churches provide assistance to those affected by anxiety and depression. Before writing full-time, Jonathan held a senior position in a FTSE100 company. He lives in Barnsley, Yorkshire, with his second wife, five children, two cats and a dog.
Follow the Tour
I would like to thank M. Jonathan Lee and Hideaway Fall for this opportunity and their time!