20 Questions ~ Chapter 2

book_nerd1Well here we are again, same questions – different author!  In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that our next author, Neal Doran and I go way back.  We set up our own writing group together called The Inklings while he was working on his manuscript (something about rings?) and I had just found a publisher for my Narnia books… oh hang on, no that was somebody else 🙂

I’ll tell you what I do know about Neal, he might make a mean cup of tea, but never give him a multiple choice question, unless you want to see a grown man impersonating a duck in thunder.  Mesdames et Messieurs, I give you the very entertaining, Neal Doran!

Neal Doran
Neal, entertaining his fans.







1. Hemingway famously said, “There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  Where the hell do you find the motivation to stick at it?

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I’m not a writer who loves the mere act of writing, but I do hate the relentless dull prodding in the back of my head I get if I’m not doing it, so it’s the lesser of two irritants.

2. Which would you prefer: monetary success or literary acclaim?

I’d assume monetary success would entail lots of paying readers, so I’d take that over acclaim. I’d then use the cash to sweet-talk a few broadsheet journalists into maybe having a rethink on the literary merits of relatively tame sex jokes.

3. How do people typically respond when you say you’re a writer?

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I don’t usually tell people. I could pretend it’s so I can secretly observe human nature without people being on their guard, but it’s actually because I’ve learnt people will ask questions like ‘can you make a living doing that?’ or ‘how’s your latest book going?’ and there’s only so much elaborate fiction I can cope with making up…

4. Social Media – Love or hate?

Love and hate

5. What would you classify as a bad review?

To get all zen, I try to remember no review, good or bad, is intended for the benefit of the author, it’s for other readers. So as a reader, I’d say a bad review is one where, regardless of whether it’s one star or five stars, I can still get no idea of whether or not *I’d* like to read the book being discussed.

6. What’s the worst review you have ever given a book?

There was a book I read once that was written in such a style that I couldn’t help but hear it in my head being narrated by Alan Partridge (and it wasn’t the Partridge autobiography). I didn’t commit that to the internet though, just thought it in my head….

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 7. Your publisher asks you to write a sequel to your very successful debut, but you never planned on writing one and you’ve left those characters behind.  Do you…
(a) Write it and be glad ANYONE is asking you to write more books?
(b) Write it, but spend the whole time in an almighty huff about the whole affair, taking your anger out on your characters by killing them all off – swerving the possibility of a trilogy?
(c) Refuse to sell out and walk away with your integrity intact, but your bank balance in tatters?

I LOVE this question. It’s like a magazine personality test for authors…

  1. A… No, B. No A, no C.


Definitely C.






8. What book do you wish you’d written?

I have become so consumed by the fear I’m forgetting the one book that means more to me than anything else that my brain has entirely shut down the library. Now all that I can find to hand is an old copy of Reader’s Digest, so I’m going to have to say that. The Kids Say the Funniest Things page is quite good, though.

9. If you could ask  your favourite author a question, what would it be?

Anne Tyler, even though everything you write is touching and genius and real, do you have trouble remembering what happens in any of your novels moments after you’ve finished them? Or is that just me?

10. Which is your favourite part of the publishing process?

Oof… The day something’s finally published.

 11.   What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told a potential publisher?

It’s virtually finished.

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12.   If money were no object, where would be your ideal place to write?

A cabin by a lake in a wood that is remote and isolated, yet also conveniently placed for major hospitals and online supermarket deliveries.

13. Do you think readers still value books in the same way?

Reading books seems to be valued more now than it has at other points in my life. Yet at the same time, no-one seems that willing to actually pay much for them…

14. What genre are your books and do you find genres restrictive?

Rom-com, chick-lit, even just trying to pick the right genres for them feels restrictive.

I like to think of books like mine as pop lit. And pop-lit, like pop music, can be beautifully light, yet serious, fun but still about the most heart-breaking times in your life. So that’s quite a nice category to be in.

Of course pop can also be tacky, annoying and meaningless, so it’s not all upside.

15. Do you have any unpublished books, buried at the bottom of the garden and doomed never to see the light of day?

A half-finished romantic-comedy-thriller about a driving instructor/part-time private eye which wasn’t romantic, comic or thrilling. Oh, and a Choose Your Own Adventure fighting fantasy novel I wrote when I was 12.

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16. What was your favourite childhood book?

I LOVED that Choose Your Own Adventure book…

17. Do you have any other hidden talents you’d like to brag about?

I make the best cup of tea in the world. And it’s not bragging if it’s true.

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18. Book Launches:  All fur coat and no knickers or a valuable rite of passage?

I think fur coat and no knickers is a valuable rite of passage.

 19.   What did you dream about last night?

See above question.

20. What would you like  your epitaph to be?

I thought he’d died years ago…


Other Plans: The State We're In by [Doran, Neal] Neal is the author of two comic novels published by Carina UK, and the new quick-read box set Other Plans.  He can be found on Twitter, usually when he’s not supposed to be, as @nealdoran and, when really bored, on Facebook. Say hello!

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