I’m pleased to be joined by author Gideon Burrows today. His novel, Locked In, sounds very intriguing and I’m delighted he’s going to tell us a bit about it today. There’s an offer of a free download of Gideon’s novel Future Shop too so don’t miss that opportunity. Welcome Gideon. First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Hello all! I’m a part-time author, who has been writing all my life. I started out sending articles on-spec to newspapers and magazines when I was 13, and had my first article published in Scouting magazine when I was 14. I sent articles all the time to The Guardian, and never got anywhere. Then one day the comment editor called me, out of the blue. He wasn’t going to publish my latest, but he said “keep on trying, you’ll get there”. It was a real boost to me.
I became a staff journalist on Community Care magazine after uni, and then wrote freelance for lots of papers – including The Guardian, where I worked on the Society Section. Then I established my own business, providing writing services for charities. By the time I realised I was a far better writer than people manager, I was employing five other writers full time. I wasn’t too upset when the business collapsed during the financial crisis, as it led to me writing my first book, on men and childcare.
What inspired you to start writing?
I always wanted to write books, ever since I used to nab my mum’s big thick novels after she’d read them on the beach. That was my introduction to Stephen King. I read everything she had, which was all of it. Then it was Dean Koontz. I got into James Herbert, via The Rats and I’m still terrified of them now. I always thought I’d write horror, but it didn’t turn out that way.
I started with non fiction about topics I really cared about, and then gradually moved into fiction – but I wanted to keep the social conscience. So I ended up writing about freedom of speech, personal rights, domestic abuse, social media – and in particular, control. How much freedom in life do we really have, and how much is slung upon us out of our own free will. I think that’s really important and interesting.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
On the surface, Locked In is a thriller. It’s a story about an explosion, and police, medics and politicians arguing about who was to blame, and whether each of their responses were adequate. But it’s far more. It’s about choice, it’s about blame, it’s about control, and it’s about free will.
The key character, David, is rendered in a deep coma as a result of an explosion during the Pride parade in London. He can’t see, he can’t speak, he can’t move, he can’t feel. But he can hear. I like writing with constraints, so this was a perfect starter – the whole story is wrote only through what he can hear. So we get the chance to delve deep into the consciousness and conscience of a man who has nothing left to live for. I think it’s a pretty unique way to tell a story.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
A second character in the book is a responsible adult – that’s someone who is appointed as representing a vulnerable child or adult with police and medics, if next of kin can’t be found. He plays a huge role in reflecting David’s suspected thoughts, so I was going to call it Responsible Adult – it has lots of connotations. But my writing club thought it was too opaque, and on reflection the more straight forward, and also double meaning of Locked In – along with the hospital corridor thriller cover – made more sense.
How do you plan to celebrate publication day?
The first draft of the book was finished in a hotel in Southend, where I’d locked myself away Shining-like (another Stephen King reference) to get it done. So my celebration happened then, with an unending cup of coffee and hotel breakfast on the last day. From then on it was work work work, and by the time it’s published at the beginning of May I’ll be well on the way with my next book.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes, it’s also about control and blame. This time, cohesive control. It’s the story of a police officer on the hunt for a missing young girl. As the case becomes more intense, he becomes more and more controlling of his new wife. Again, I’ve made life difficult for myself by telling the story from his perspective – he doesn’t realise he’s being controlling, and it just gets worse and worse.
What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?
Paul Donovan’s non-fiction self-help book, Happiness By Design. I’m totally not into that genre, but it helped me through some dark times. It’s a scientific look at depression and anxiety, and urges readers to design elements in and out of their lives that make them particularly happy or sad. i had to make some difficult decisions after reading it, but I’m far happier as a result.
What are you reading just now?
The Minders, by John Marrs. I loved his The Passengers. He writes near-future thrillers, very Black Mirror, which I love. My first novel, Portico, was very like this.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
I’m going to assume I get the works of Shakespeare. In addition, I’d take the complete works of John Steinbeck.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
Clearly, one of my own! Otherwise, too many great stories are spoiled by films, especially when they get second, third, fourth and fifth films, with yogurt pots, and branded caps, and soap and stuff.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’d love your readers to download a free novel, about the near future, at www.gideon-burrows.com/FreeFutureShop
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I tend to read stand alone novels, rather than series, so I can’t point to a hero character. I would like to say Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. He’s so balanced and understanding, and fair and honest. He knows the way of the world. Its a masterpiece of a book, and he’s a masterpiece of a character.
Locked In was published on 1st May 2022. Readers can buy it in paperback and ebook from all online stores, as well as https://www.gideon-burrows.com/uncategorized/locked-in/ Members of Gideon’s mailing list will always get a discount, as well as signed paperbacks if requested.