Capturing Gregory Shortbread

Today I welcome back Matthew Drzymala to my blog. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since I last invited him here in (eek! It can’t be that long ago) December 2014. He has just released a new novel, ‘The Fantastical Gregory Shortbread’, and it’s set in his fictional village of Bumpkinton – which is not, in my opinion anyway, a million miles from Pitkirtly.
So let’s start by asking

1.    What have you been doing since the last time you were here?  Blimey, 4 years. How time flies! What have I been up to… phew, quite a lot. I’ve been writing my new book, The Fantastical Gregory Shortbread for three of those four years. I also studied for a Diploma to be a Copywriter and I’m currently trying to build up a client base so I can work for myself full time.

So, whether it’s work or fun, I’ve been writing almost solid for three years. 

2.    Have the changes all been positive? Or do you have some regrets?

I’ve faced a number of changes in the years since my last release – namely being made redundant. However, it forced me to consider what I wanted to do. So, I took a copywriting course and passed that.

I’ve started my own business, Indelible Think, where I write for clients either in the evenings or at weekends.

While there was one massive down, the course is a massive up and writing my book in that time is another cause to be happy.

3.    And what about your latest publication, ‘Gregory Shortbread’?  

The Fantastical Gregory Shortbread is the first novel in the Bumpkinton Tales series. The others have been short stories and novellas, so I was keen to expand on this one. 

I’m immensely proud of it. It’s full of genuine laughs but it also has a lot of heart.

The story involves a travelling theatre showman, called Gregory Shortbread. He arrives in Bumpkinton as the villagers are putting on a fundraising evening following a recent spate of vandalism.

As you might guess, not all goes to plan and Gregory is there to put on a show the likes the village has never seen.

The story, for the most part, takes place within Bumpkinton, but it’s also the first one to have large chunks take place outside the village too – and we also dip our toe into the nearby village of Eppforth, which has been mentioned previously but never seen.

I also resurrect a dead character, but, well it’s a flashback and I found writing him a lot of fun. So much so I now regret having killed him off in my very first story! Haha!

4.    Why has it taken so long to finish?

I wanted to have a go at writing a novel, but I also knew I wanted to slow down. I released four Bumpkinton stories within twelve months in 2013 and 2014. I felt I’d rushed them, and had not given them time to breathe.

So, with Gregory Shortbread I wanted to write something that would take a while. I was stressing myself I think, to write story after story.

I came to the decision that by doing that I would only be churning out stories that weren’t ready. Many authors release multiple books in a year, which is brilliant, but I soon realised I’m not that kind of writer.

I also had a problem in 2016 when my computer wiped a whole draft of the story so I lost four months writing.

My own silly fault for not backing it up!

5.    How does it fit in with the other Bumpkinton Tales?

The story is set around 4-5 months after Albert’s Christmas (my last story) and one chapter skips back in time to directly after the events of that story. 

There are numerous mentions of the other stories throughout The Fantastical Gregory Shortbread, so if you haven’t read the others, you’re brought up to speed.

6.    What do you plan to do now that it’s finally out there?

 I’m attending book signings this year. By the time this is posted I will have already done one in Leeds. I have another in July in Southport and another in August in Manchester.

A local shop in Liverpool called Write Blend have also asked if I’d like to do a book signing in their shop. I just need to fix a date with them on that one!

7.    Would you still like to visit Vienna if you could? Or is there somewhere else you would prefer now?

I’d still love to visit Vienna. It was originally part my honeymoon plans, but over time (and through lack of funds) we had to dispense with it. However, I would love to go, it’s just not happened as of yet.

8.    Do you plan to write more novels?

One day, yes. I don’t see myself writing a novel next because I would want to take three years again, and I think something shorter would be what’s on the agenda.

But yes, I will write another novel, but I don’t know when.

9.    Have you exhausted the possibilities of Bumpkinton or do you think you can wring even more stories out of the place?

There will be more. I wrote a story five years ago in a creative writing class which was the first time I came up with Bumpkinton. That story has never been released.

It revolves around The Bumpkinton Cake Competition which is mentioned in my stories but never seen. I plan to write that eventually, but it also sees the departure of a character I love, so that one may be a while off. I think that story is a fitting end to the village stories, but I plan to write a few more before I write that one.

I have had an idea for the name of the next story, I just don’t have a fully-formed story yet.

I also want to write other stories too, so my next book probably won’t be a Bumpkinton story, but I’m not finished yet.

 10. How does copywriting differ from writing fiction?

Copywriting is a very different skill to writing books. Okay, you have to write an enticing story, but you need to do it in very few words. Every client wants something different.

Professional.

Humorous.

Fun, but not too fun.

It’s a hard balance to achieve, and when you’re working to sell the benefits of somebodies business, you have to make sure you write exactly what they want.

And you have to create a tone of voice for each business. You have to make them stand out and you have to make sure it’s constantly engaging.

It’s fun, but it’s also hard. 

It’s something that really appealed to me. I’m still learning, but I’ve worked with some fabulous people and recently worked on my first project for a global company, which was superb.

I would say I prefer writing books, it doesn’t make me much money, but I love thinking up a story and working out twists and everything it involes.

Copywriting is something I want to do as a job, so I can work for myself. It’s fun, I enjoy it, but you’re also working to what somebody else wants. Sometimes they don’t understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to selling yourself as a business, so you can end up with something you know won’t work, but the client is adamant that that is what they want.

Matt has a website here: http://matthewdrzymala.com/

And his Amazon page is here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matthew-Drzymala/e/B00HGBB17W

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