Being Published – An Interview with Gareth Davies

Gareth Davies writer

Gareth Davies’ novel humans, being has just been published by Cinnamon Press. The book centres around Vic, a middle-aged comedian whose wife has just left him. Vic must come to terms with his new life as a part-time dad, looking after his son (Elis) whilst attempting to get back into the dating game, unsure who he’s looking for, or how to find her. He soon discovers that life can become quite confusing, and his best friend Mia is having troubles of her own…

I chatted to Gareth about his journey to publication, and the surreal feeling of having a published book out there, in the world.

Would you like to start by telling us a bit about how you got to this point?

Even though this is my first published novel with Cinnamon Press, this is actually the fourth or fifth novel I’ve written. I self-published two of them, and two of them have never seen the light of day. I started writing in 2003 – a first novel, and The Welsh Books Council said it was brilliant, and I thought I was going to make it, but then I sent it to agents and publishers and got lots of rejections, so then I gave up writing for a little while, and started writing short stories for my blog, where I posted almost every day for about five years, and that made me believe I could write again. But, because I didn’t quite have enough self-belief, I decided to do an MA in Creative Writing at Cardiff University.

That’s where humans, being started (it was my final piece of work for the MA, the first 10,000 words of a novel) then I decided to do the mentorship scheme with Cinnamon Press, because I knew I wanted to finish it, but I needed someone to ‘crack the whip’ if you like. I worked with an editor, who gave me feedback on each draft and I finished it in December 2018. But that didn’t guarantee that I was going to get taken on and, in fact, originally they said no, and then I went on their residential weekend, after they had said no, and after that weekend they said they’d changed their mind, and would like to take it on.

Where did the idea for humans, being come from?

When I was doing my MA one of the guest lecturers asked us if we started with an idea of a plot or the idea of a person. He suggested that we started with a person, and then see what happens to them, and I suppose that’s where this book started, because I had the idea of Vic (this guy who was having trouble with relationships) who was already in my mind, so I sort of adopted him and wrote about him and saw where his life went, so yes, it’s very much about a person rather than a plot.

I wanted to write a book about a guy who was going through, the second time around, finding a relationship, and I had an idea to write it with songs, so the idea was that all of the relationship problems that the guy had were linked to a different song, but I realised that wasn’t going to work, for many reasons, and it became humans, being, and the Mia character was originally going to be the man’s psychiatrist, but I turned her into the man’s best friend, instead. So, a lot of the book is set in a café where they’re just discussing the kind of relationship problems that they’re both having.

Were there parts of the novel that you found difficult to write?

It’s very much based on the relationship between Vic and Mia, and their relationships, so it’s not plot driven, and sometimes it was difficult to see where I wanted it to go and how to keep up the momentum, so I had to have likeable characters.

Gareth Davies at the book launch

Gareth at the book launch with Kate North, who is also published by Cinnamon Press

Your publisher described the novel as a ‘male version of Bridget Jones’ Diary’ – Would you agree that this is a fitting description?

I hadn’t thought of it as that, but I suppose Vic, the main character, is going through those kinds of relationship issues, and questioning what he’s looking for in life and trying to decide what happiness is, what contentment is, and in that respect there is a parallel, but I hadn’t considered that before. It was quite a shock!

Even though it’s dealing with serious issues it’s quite light-hearted and I want people to pick it up and recognise themselves in it, and smile at things, and say ‘oh yeah, that’s happened to me’.

What are you working on now?

Now it’s out in the world, it’s quite scary because you’ve got to promote it and get out there and do things that I think a lot of us are uncomfortable doing, as writers. You’ve got to get feedback on it, people are reading it, and there are reviews…

I’m now writing something completely different – a spy novel set in Britain, Germany and the Soviet Union in the 1970s. And I’d really like to re-visit one of my first novels, as well, one that I self-published, and see if I could get that accepted by a publisher, now that I’ve got a foot in the door.

Thanks Gareth, and good luck with the next novel!

This giveaway has now closed.
If you don’t win the giveaway you can always buy yourself a copy from the Cinnamon Press website.