Interviewed by Sue Leonard.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 10th February, 2013
Beginner’s Pluck Gavin Extence.
As a child, Gavin loved writing stories and playing chess. He played competitively until he was 11. As a teen, he hid his love of learning, so he could fit in. After finishing his PhD, he spent a year sending out his CV. He did various temporary jobs, but didn’t find his calling.
“My wife said, ‘stop tinkering with your writing, and just write.’ So I did. The voice for Alex came first. Then the plot started to fall into place. I wanted Alex to have some unusual experiences, but for other things to be universally recognisable.”
Who is Gavin Extence?
Date of birth: 17th January 1982
Education: Boston Grammar School, Lincolnshire. Sheffield University, English Lit; PhD in Film studies.
Family: Wife, Alix, and baby daughter, Amelia.
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
Interests: Science, films.
Favourite Writers: Kurt Vonnegut; David Mitchell; Haruki Murakami, John Irving. Nabokov.
Second Novel: I’m currently starting my second novel. The last six months, since Amelia was born have been disruptive. Before that I was into a good routine.
Top Writing Tip: Practise is the key. Write every day to keep the ball rolling. If you keep stopping and starting it’s hard to find the momentum to carry through.
Web: www.alexwoodsbook.co.uk Twitter: @thingsalexknows
The Debut: The Universe Versus Alex Woods. Hodder and Stoughton:€20.50. Kindle: €12.14
Son of a clairvoyant, Alex has lived through an extraordinary accident that made him famous. Battling bullies, as he struggles through his teens, he makes an unlikely friend. The bad tempered, reclusive widower appreciates his love for facts and for astronomy. And in return he gives him some valuable life lessons.
So when, at 17, the police stop him at Dover, with a stash of marijuana, and an urn full of ashes, he feels confident that he’s acted for the best.
“I’m pleased with how it’s worked out. Alex has inner strength and integrity, thought that’s not obvious at the start.”
The Verdict: Quite brilliant. Funny; poignant and simply unforgettable. A classic in the making.
© Sue Leonard. 2013