Bookcase Focus: An Interview with Ifan Morgan Jones

Bookcase Focus: An Interview with Ifan Morgan Jones

Wales Literature Exchange interviewed our Bookcase author Ifan Morgan Jones, about his writing and his influences.

1. What first inspired you to be an author and where do your ideas come from?

I think it’s mainly the pure enjoyment of writing that inspires me. I think there’s a suggestion that you must suffer for your art, but I enjoy it completely and have found that the books and passages I most enjoyed writing are often the ones my readers enjoyed reading. I often use my books to further explore ideas I stumble across in my academic research, and it’s a way of discussing those ideas with a wider audience. A lot of my ideas also come from my work as a journalist, observing people and telling their stories from day to day. Once I have an idea that catches my interest I have to get it out there.

2. How would you describe your writing?

I tend to plot my books very carefully, and write in layers. First of all it’s important to ensure that there’s an interesting plot and characters that will carry the reader forward on a journey. Then underneath that there’s usually a theme or idea I’m very much interested in and want to discuss. The reader can think about and explore the theme or idea if they too are interested in it, or they can just be taken along by the plot. Once I’m happy with the broad sweep of the novel I’ll treat every scene as a short story and try to make them as interesting and impactful as possible. I try and do something different with each book – so far I’ve written a fantasy novel, a historical novel, a political thriller and a steampunk novel.

3. Which authors have influenced you the most?

Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for the sheer intertextuality and weight of meaning in the text, although I attempt to keep my novels more streamlined and less prone to diversions. Reading the novels of Terry Pratchett had a big influence on me growing up, and his ability to use fantasy to discuss important themes in the real world had a big influence.

4. In your opinion what are the biggest challenges that writers face today – and do you think these challenges have changed since you started writing?

I think that finding a quiet time to write is more difficult. We’re constantly bombarded with distractions. It’s easier to find ideas and inspiration but harder to find the time to sit down and write the book. I need a cabin at the bottom of the garden with no internet. This has been a constant challenge since I began writing, but I think my social media addiction has grown over the years!

5. What are the hardest and easiest parts of being a writer?

The hardest part is the constant self-doubt that you feel up until you see the first reviews and get a sense of relief. I haven’t felt confident with any of my novels that they were worthwhile before publishing. The easiest part is when you get lost in the writing for hours and don’t even notice the world around you. If you’re distracted however it’s hard to get that flow back.

6. Which writer from Wales would you recommend to readers and why?

There are so many excellent writers in Wales that it’s hard to recommend just one! The best Welsh novel I’ve read recently is Manon Steffan Ros’ Llyfr Glas Nebo, which tells the story of the area where I grew up as a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s like The Road but with Welsh poetry rather than guns, and all the better for it.


 

  • Babel was selected to the Wales Literature Exchange 2019 Bookcase, our annual selection of recent Welsh literary works which we recommend for translation.

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