Q & A: Gareth D. Jones

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I’ve taken the last few Fridays off, but I’m back again with what I hope you’ll find another scintillating Q&A with another exciting author. And so, here we go:

Q&A with Gareth D. Jones:
Gareth Jones

In addition to possessing the kind of fascination with tea drinking that americans tend to expect from authors in the UK, Gareth D. Jones writes. Short stories. Novels. Comic books. He’s everywhere! Gareth is known for the many translations of his short story “The Gondolier,” being the editor of the forthcoming anthology The Immersion Book of Steampunk from Immersion Press, a day job in the exciting/terrifying world of hazardous waste management, and his tireless reviews of all that’s good and great in our genre. Despite my own aversion for tea, I bounced a few questions across the pond to Gareth, and he very kindly bounced back some answers.


LMS: We share an interest in language, and in having our fiction translated into other languages, including some that are rather obscure. I know my own motivations for this (which include eventual World Domination), but I’m curious to learn of yours (just in case I need to have my minions eliminate you somewhere along the way). What has driven you to pursue translations of “The Gondolier” (among others) in some twenty languages?

GDJ: I’ve always been interested in languages, picking up a few words in lots of languages from people I’ve met, learning French and German at school (enough to survive on holiday) and sign language later on. I discovered Doug Smith’s foreign market list about 5 years ago, enthusiastically started subbing stories over the world and soon I was published in Hebrew, Greek and Spanish. I’m half Welsh, and most of my relatives are bilingual, so I wanted to have a story published in Welsh. There are no Welsh SF markets, so I found a friendly translator, and started looking into the other Celtic languages, then other minority languages, then any language that I could find a literary website for. I now have ‘The Gondolier’ in 32 languages, including Latin, artificial languages Esperanto and Glosa, and hopefully Klingon soon too!


LMS: Your bio tells us that you’re an environmental scientist working in hazardous waste management. That sounds ripe for exploitation by a science fiction author. Do you don a metaphorical hazmat suit when you write and mine the toxic sludge for story ideas, or am I overly romanticizing what is actually a dull and dreary day job involving lots of reference manuals full of chemical tables and charts of decomposition rates and things to do with potash? What do you actually do as an environmental scientist, how do you mange that hazardous waste, and do you wish someone somewhere would have a protagonist who does what you do?

GDJ: I haven’t actually written any stories inspired by waste management yet, but Environmental Science is a broad subject, so I picked up a wide array of knowledge in my studies that I’ve been able to use in various stories. Plate tectonics, glaciations, meteorology, oceanography, waste water treatment, and renewable energy technology are some of the subjects I’ve made use of.
In recent years I’ve run a waste water treatment plant and a hazardous waste incinerator, handled chemicals of just about every conceivable hazard and all kinds of waste from radioactive to biohazardous. There’s an awful lot of legislation and paperwork involved in transporting and disposing of it, but it’s an endlessly varied and interesting job.


LMS: You write comics. You write short stories. You write novels. We’ve all heard of people who can do one of these things but not the others. Novelists who can’t conceive of telling a complete tale in a mere thousand words, and short story writers who cramp up if you ask them to keep going after five thousand. What’s your view on that, and what is it about your process that you think permits you to bounce back and forth?

GDJ: I started off writing stories of between about 1000 to 5000 words, then came across the word ‘drabble’ which describes a story of exactly 100 words. This seemed like a challenge, and it took me several attempts to get close. The joy of turning out a complete story in such a short time stuck with me though, and 2/3 of my stories now are flash fiction of under 1000 words.
My first novel ‘Roadmaker’ evolved from a series of 5 short stories published in Jupiter magazine. I revised and expanded them and continued the story with a further three episodes, to make an 80,000 word novel. This bridged the gap between the two forms, and my second novel ‘Gap Years’ was written with a similar structure. Oddly, ‘Gap Years’ started life as a 1000 word story.
My interest in comics came about as a result of ‘Murky Depths’ magazine, which ran an article on the process of creating a comic script. It was another interesting challenge, and I based my first comic on a flash story I’d written. Breaking the story down into scene, action and dialogue to construct a graphic story was an intriguing process, and I’ve used the lessons I learned to have a go at a screenplay too.


LMS: Most authors read quite a bit, both to stay current in the field and to see how other authors are handling various concepts and trends. But most of us don’t turn around and write reviews as a consequence. How does being a reviewer affect your work as a writer, and vice versa?

GDJ: Writing reviews helps me to analyse what works and what doesn’t, and more importantly why. This is particularly so when I review short stories in magazines or anthologies. I couldn’t point to any particular examples, but it affects the way I write in that I can spot similar problems more easily when I come to editing my own work. On the other hand, being a writer makes me a more kindly reviewer. I’ve received a couple of unfavourable reviews myself, and it’s pretty disheartening, so I always look for something good to say and try to be constructive in my criticism.


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And that’s Gareth D. Jones. Now we come to the portion of the blog where I remind you that writers need readers. If you found Gareth’s responses in this Q&A interesting, please consider clicking below and order a copy of this anthology that includes some of his stuff. Thanks!

The Friday Flash Fiction Anthology

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