Today’s Author in the Spotlight is Billy Moran. His book, Don’t Worry Everything is Going to Be Amazing is published by Sauce Materials and available to order here. The paperback is available now and the ebook is due to publish on 15th September.
Thanks for joining me Billy. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I’m a West Country Boy who’s somehow become a 49-year-old man living in London with two kids (one of whom tells me I’m 50), two cats, and a freelance TV writing career that hasn’t been helped by the Coronavirus! I write on shows like Horrible Histories, Tenable and Vic & Bob Takeover TCM Movies, whilst also helping people develop new concepts for game shows, but the industry is only just starting to dust itself off.
What inspired you to start writing?
My mum inspired me to be a voracious reader, and I think most people who read in that way harbour a fundamentally problematic (because it can drive you mad) desire to write a novel – it’s certainly something that’s tortured me for a long time, so I’m chuffed I’ve finally done it. My mum turned 90 in April and got Covid-19 in May. She was in hospital for seven weeks but she’s fine now, so for her to see the book means everything, although to be fair, she wasn’t a big raver herself. She was one of the oldest of ten, and said that the only way she could ever get any peace as a child – to be herself and explore how she felt – was to take herself off with a book. I must have absorbed all that, did an English: Creative Writing degree, and then went to work in television. I was a Head of Development, inventing shows and running creative teams, and writing was at the heart of that job – but eventually there was an expectation that you should want to sell, and I don’t like selling. So when I hit 40 I started writing scripts for TV as well. I now do both jobs freelance and absolutely love it.
Tell me about your journey to publication
The novel has been seven years in the making. I started with Chris and the story – that spine was always there – and then spent a couple of years throwing everything at it to make it as honest and real and un-self-conscious as possible. Filling in the gaps and making sure it all tied together was what really took the time. Chris, Runcie and Julie live in a chaotic world – ultimately I wanted total order. I’m passionate about how hard you have to work in any creative industry to make things look simple and natural.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Don’t Worry, Everything Is Going To Be Amazing is a ‘glowsticks and magnifying glass’ novel, about a middle-aged simpleton who thinks he can use a lifelong obsession with TV detectives to solve a heart-breaking mystery buried deep in his past. It’s a nostalgic whodunit adventure back to the 90s rave scene, which explores the different ways some of us try to find a bit of happiness and meaning in our lives – and just like real life, it keeps you guessing right to the end.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
I’m obsessed with self–help culture and the way we go after short-cuts to happiness and fulfilment – it’s something I say myself, and want to believe. But it doesn’t reflect the work you have to do – the pain you have to feel – before you get to amazing. Or what amazing really means. None of us really expect daily fireworks, untroubled domestic bliss or untold riches – but there’s a lot of pressure to think like that and not ask tricky questions.
How do you plan to celebrate publication day?
It’s quite hard celebrating these days because you’re so limited on numbers – I don’t particularly want a £10,000 fine, and parties round ours usually involve lots of kids, so keeping the numbers down isn’t really an option without some people being left out. I will probably request that we go to my favourite pub, play cards and eat crisps, and then maybe have a curry. I will probably be checking my phone all evening.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
DWEIGTBA is the first in a series – part two has been mapped out, but I’m always juggling ideas so it’s tempting to write something else too.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
Normally I read a lot of books in the bath, much to the annoyance of everyone else in my house. But lockdown somehow reversed all my usual habits. I’ve worked out late in life that I need the structure of work to be able to enjoy my relaxation time. So I’ve been a bit down on my reading quota this year. Three I’ve loved though have been I Never Said I Loved You by Rhik Samadder, Half of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Faceless Killers (late to the party!) by Henning Mankell.
What are you reading just now?
It’s all a bit of a whirl right now, so I’m sticking to non-fiction I can dip in and out of – I love colourful, geeky music books like The Rock and Roll A Level and Ruth and Martin’s Album Club – and saving myself for the new Rebus and Strike hardbacks. That’s Autumn for me…wood smoke, whisky and a good crime mystery with great characters…it’s how I hope lots of people get to enjoy DWEIGTBA.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
Not Facebook, that’s for sure. “Here’s what I’ve been up to: whittled a spear again today.” Plus my battery life is shocking. One book is a cruel rule though. It would probably be Trainspotting – I’ve read it so many times already that I might as well learn it word-for-word.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
This is my party trick! I guess it’s because I’ve worked in a visual industry for a long time. Trainspotting felt so visceral the first time I picked it up, I thought it should be a film. This book called Q&A was a little high concept secret no-one else knew about. That became Slumdog Millionaire. I’d love to see A Confederacy of Dunces made into a film, but they’ve been trying for 30 years, so maybe it’s doomed. Big qualifier too of course – it’s got to be the right team behind it, and everything still has to fall into place. The Sisters Brothers was born to be a film, but it’s a shocker.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I love talking to people about books, my book, family, the ways we make life work, anything – so if people want to get in touch, they can email me: BillyMoran@saucematerials.co.uk. I’m rarely on Facebook, but I put my own stuff up on the Sauce Materials FB/Insta/Twitter feeds.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I don’t like being the centre of attention, so I’d be throwing shapes in the background in one of the raves in DWEIGTBA.