Gareth P. Jones’s brand new book, CONSTABLE & TOOP, just came out in October in the US (those in the UK already know it’s awesome), to rave reviews, and the author kindly stopped by to tell us about it, and more! Also, do be sure to pick up a copy for yourself and the kid(s) in your life, because it’s absolutely gorgeous, inside and out.
Your new book, CONSTABLE & TOOP, just came out! Will you tell us a little about it and your protagonist, Sam Toop?
Sam is the son of an undertaker. He has grown up surrounded by the dead and paraphernalia of death and it would seem that it’s all rubbed off on him because he has a special gift – or curse, depending on how you look at it. Sam is what the ghost community calls a ‘Talker’. He is able to see, hear and talk to the ghosts that surround him. But in truth, it’s not the dead that are Sam’s biggest problem in this book. He knows that the dead can do him no harm. It is the living breathing people who can hurt him.
Why do you think readers will like Sam?
I hope Sam is a nicely understated character. He is a good person and I think we see that very early on in his attempts to help out the ghosts who come to him, but he has also been forced into being a loner. He seeks companionship with the living and I hope the readers will want that for him too.
Did you do any particular research for the book?
Mostly, I walked. I live in London, you see, where you don’t need to step inside many museums to discover its history. Take a walk west from Rotherhithe along the south bank of the Thames and you will gather enough material for 10 novels. London’s history is written on the walls of the buildings that remain and the rubble of those that didn’t make it. Plaques on walls and signs on pubs tell you about the countless ghosts that fill this amazing city. I also read a bit and I asked some questions. Some of London’s ‘real’ ghosts are included in the book, such as the Man in Grey who apparently haunts Drury Lane and those which fill the Tower of London.
What is your writing process like?
Walking, stopping, sitting down, drinking coffee, writing, getting on a bus… etc.
What was one of your favorite books as a child?
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, because it was just the right amount of silly.
What’s one of your favorite books as an adult?
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale, because it’s beautifully researched story telling at its best.
You’ve got quite a few titles under your belt! What do you enjoy most about writing books for young
I think the most enjoyable part of writing is that moment of creation, when you have tapped into a strange part of your brain and you are both telling the story and watching it unfurl. That’s magical, but the writing that comes out at that stage is terrible and I do also enjoy the editing process when I make it better. I’m less keen on the secretarial bit, where I have to type up my changes.
What have you enjoyed the most about being a published author, and what piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
I enjoy making up stuff for a living and I enjoy going into schools and jumping around with a ukulele. In terms of advice, I think the most obvious one is to write. There is no one type of personality that makes an author, but writers do all have a tendency to write a lot.
When you’re not working on your next project, how do you like to spend your free time?
Playing music, playing with my son, Herbie, playing with my wife, Lisa and playing with my friends. Basically, playing.
What’s next for you?
A book about time travel but I can’t say much more at this stage except that I’ll tell you all about it some time last month if that’s all right with you.
ABOUT CONSTABLE & TOOP:
Something mysterious and terrible is happening throughout Victorian London: Ghosts are disappearing. When this reaches the attention of the Ghost Bureau, the diligent but clueless Mr. Lapsewood, a paranormal paper-pusher, is sent to investigate, and what he discovers is grave. The Black Rot has arrived—a voracious spiritual infestation whereby empty haunted houses suck in unsuspecting ghosts and imprison them. Lapsewood’s investigation weaves through the plotlines of several other memorable characters—both living and dead—including an undertaker’s son who can see ghosts, a serial throat-slasher reminiscent of Jack the Ripper, an evangelical exorcist, and many more. The living and dead must work together if they hope to destroy the Black Rot—before it destroys both the ghost and human worlds.
This highly atmospheric and bitingly funny ghost story by successful British author Gareth P. Jones will delight fans of Eva Ibbotson and Neil Gaiman.