Author Gerald Jacobs Answers all our Questions
- Latest Book: Pomeranski
- Can you give us a sense of what your latest book is about
As Benny ‘the Fixer’ Pomeranski is laid to rest at the turn of the twenty-first century, a motley crew of survivors from his youth assembles around the grave, faces that indicated a singular kind of past, a chequered hinterland.’ This encounter with the past, and the discovery of his father Benny’s diaries, leads Simon Pomeranski back to his childhood and the post-war days of the Astorians, a small group of criminals and traders in ‘swag’ who ran their business from Brixton Market and exercised their own particular brand of justice.
- Tell us something about yourself that we likely don’t know! The more obscure the better!
At the age of 10, I was the under-12 sack race champion of South London
- Do you write in silence, or with music? If you write to music, give us the top three songs on your writers’ playlist this week.
Silence most of the time. Occasionally, I will play a piece of music that is mentioned in the text to give myself a lift. While writing Pomeranski, for example, that could be Erroll Garner playing The Way You Look Tonight at the piano, or Ella Fitzgerald singing My Heart Stood Still. In my previous novel, Nine Love Letters, it could have been Chopin’s nocturne Opus 9, Number 1, or the Yiddish folk song Oyfn Pripetshik Brent a Fayerl.
- Are you a plotter or pantser?
I think I know what that means, and I’m both.
- Have your characters ever ‘gone off script’ – hijacked your story and taken it in a direction you didn’t expect?
Well, certainly a character, if finely enough drawn, can ‘tell’ you how they would behave in a certain situation. But that’s not ‘going off script’. Quite the opposite, they are acting in character, and in effect writing the script at that point.
- If you could spend time with any character from any of your books, who would it be and what would you do?
Well, I am not exclusively a fiction writer, so I have already spent time — a lot of time — with the subjects of my writing. My very first book was an authorised biography of Judi Dench. She was great fun and I’d certainly be agreeable to spending time with her again…
- Which of your characters can you say you would least get along with in real life?
That’s easy, ‘Little Jack’ Lewis, a heartless gangster who appears in Pomeranski.
- Do you read your reviews?
- What has been the toughest criticism you have been given since becoming a published author?
I don’t think I have ever had ‘tough’ criticism, but one negative review stands out. It was the only one such among the many positive reviews for Sacred Games, my one and only book so far to get into the best-seller lists.
Miklos Hammer, the subject of the book, had been in Auschwitz, where he had frequent dreams, mostly nightmares. He could not remember them in any precise detail so in the book I invented his dreams based on what he had told me of his incarceration, particularly in relation to one especially brutal SS guard. In the review in question, by a minor academic, the completely factual experiences were described as completely unconvincing. On the other hand, the dreams, this person wrote, were the one convincing aspect of the story.
So this critic had decided that the one invented feature of the book was the only believable one. Whereas all the genuine experiences, apparently, were clearly fictitious. Mr Hammer was furious and summoned the academic to London and, having met him, my critical critic recanted.
- What is the best compliment you have received?
A totally false one. I was once introduced to the philosopher Isaiah Berlin by a gentleman who asked: ‘have you two met?’ in answer to which the great man graciously lied: ‘No, but we have admired each other from afar.’(I decided not to say — ungraciously — to Isaiah, ‘how would you know that I admire you?’)
- Do you have a day job when you are not writing? If so, what do you do?
Yes, I am a journalist.
- Can you name three authors who have inspired your writing?
I admire a great many writers and I suppose I must have picked up odd things from them but I wouldn’t point to any individual writer who directly inspired my writing. Truly great writers do inspire me to write — and read — but I would not presume to claim a stylistic or any other association with them.
- What was your favourite book as a child?
I loved the Just William stories by Richmal Crompton.
- What scene in your latest book was the hardest scene to write (without giving away too many spoilers!)
The first one, because it was a platform for all that followed.
- Do you have any other author friends? If so, can you name a few and have any of them given you a piece of advice you would consider invaluable on your publishing journey?
I do but I don’t want to embarrass them by mentioning them in public.
For Bonus Points – Answer four fabulous frivolous questions!
- What is your biggest fear?
Not knowing how to answer questions like this.
- If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
Knowing how to answer questions like this.
- If you could write one line to be etched into your tombstone, what would it read?
The view is great from down here.
- If you could give your younger self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
Stop trying to keep too many balls in the air.
Many thanks to Gerald for joining us today as part of his blog tour. If you are interested in hearing more about Gerald and Pomeranski, pop over to some of our Blog Tour buddies to learn more.
If you would like to purchase Pomeranski, or find out more about this title, you can click here: https://www.quartetbooks.co.uk/shop/pomeranski/