Today I am welcoming John Gerard Fagan into the Indie Spotlight.
John Gerard Fagan is a writer from Scotland and the author of the memoir Fish Town – a book about leaving everything behind for a new life in rural Japan. He writes in Scots, Scottish Gaelic, and English. For more information see Johngerardfagan.com and follow him on Twitter @JohnGerardFagan
Welcome to my blog, John!
What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?
Once I had finished my manuscript, I made a long list of agents and some independent publishers that I felt would be a good fit for my book. Guts Publishing was my first pick from the Indie publishers for several reasons and by some stroke of luck they got back to me first. I was really impressed with the owner Julianne Ingles in that she ‘got’ the story and what I was trying to do with the experimental form.
I knew it was likely that I’d be asked to change the book’s form to something more traditional if I went with a big publisher, so that was the tipping point that swayed me towards signing for Guts. I signed the contract within a week of sending the book off in January 2021 and three months later it was published. It has been one of the best decisions I have made and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres? Have you ever written in other genres?
I had never written a memoir before. I had written diaries when I went travelling but nothing that wasn’t for my eyes only. I wrote Fish Town just to get down some memories about my time in Japan as I was leaving and it just rolled into a memoir that I felt was a good story to share. I’ve written in a variety of other genres, which includes Japanese literature, crime, horror, sci-fi, and mad wee Scottish stories. I don’t like to limit myself to one genre and don’t really think about the genre until the story goes in a certain direction.
Do you only read the genre that you write?
No, I read far and wide. I’ve read a lot of great Scottish memoirs by the likes of Limmy, Frankie Boyle, and Aidan Martin, but this year, for example, I’ve read Japanese horror, including Abe’s Woman in the Dunes, Russian lit in The Idiot by Dostoevsky, and a fair few noir novels like Drive by James Sallis.
What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?
I usually have two or three books on the go at the same time. I’ve just finished Wyndham’s classic post apocalyptic novel The Day of the Triffids, which I thought was excellent and one of the best in that genre. I’ve just started two intriguing books from two brilliant Scottish writers: The Knitting Station by Kristi Wishart and Boyle’s Law by L. G. Thomson. I had been meaning to read more Scottish writers since I returned from Japan and not just the well-known ones. Both are great finds.
TV-wise, I’m currently re-watching Twin Peaks and nearing the end of season 2 and it’s better the second time around. Other TV shows I like to watch are It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Scrubs, Freaks and Geeks, and I’m looking forward to the next seasons of The Boys and The Mandalorian. Depends what mood I’m in. Over lockdown I watched the American version of The Office and it’s now one of my favourites.
In terms of music, for inspiration, I listen to Ludovico Einaudi to get me into a calm and relaxed frame of mind before writing. If I’m writing fast-paced scenes I’ll throw on some Slipknot or Pantera. I also like to write with white noise playing in the background too. Depends on the story.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Be willing to put in a number of years before your writing is any good. Don’t take rejections to heart. And if you are serious about being a writer, don’t give up. It took me 16 years to get to where I am now. And finally, don’t be afraid to throw your first novel in the bin; I binned my first five and am glad I did.
What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
I have just finished a novel set in Yaizu, the fishing port where I first lived in my memoir. It’s about a lonely factory worker who is losing sense of reality and is hearing mysterious chimes at night. I am currently querying this novel with agents and it will be my debut novel. In the meantime, I’m working on an 11th century Japanese novel and several short stories.
Thank you so much for taking part in my Indie Spotlight, John and good luck with your novels and short stories!
“Disillusioned with life in Glasgow, I sold everything I had and left for a new life in a remote fishing village in Japan. I knew nothing of the language or the new land that I would call home for the next seven years.”
Who is next on Indie Spotlight?
After reading The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist and The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan as a teen, Nathan Hall just KNEW he had to be a writer. He started immediately on his first novel, which was terrible. Sometime later, he started on his next novel, which was less awful, and in late 2017 he started on what would eventually become An Altar on the Village Green, book one in The Chained God.