Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Author Interview: Jackson Radcliffe: The Yoga Sutras

Jackson Radcliffe is a skinny guy and a yoga dude. His debut novel, The Yoga Sutras, is a philosophical comedy - dark on comedy but light on philosophy!

Jackson likes to read both fiction and non-fiction, often reading several books at once. He loves to read stories that dazzle him and show him things that he thought were impossible, and that is the kind of book he aspires to write.
Jackson is obsessed with ideas, beliefs and abstract nouns. He likes listening to music and worrying about his health and impending doom. He enjoys the visual arts and is equally at home with science and technology.

Jackson suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and some days doesn't manage to do very much.

Your real name and pen name?

My real name is Steve Morris. I chose the pen name Jackson Radcliffe because there are already writers called Steve Morris and Stephen Morris publishing fiction and non-fiction.

About your education

I grew up in a small seaside town in Wales and went to the local school. When I was 17 I applied to study at Oxford University. My head teacher told me not to because "people like you" (people who are not from rich families) don't go to Oxford. I proved him wrong and studied for a degree in Physics at Oxford!

What career did you plan during your education days?

I planned to be the greatest physicist since Albert Einstein. That didn't really work out.

What languages you can speak and write?

Apart from English I can speak and read some French and once read Jean-Paul Sartre in the original language.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

I am fascinated by abstract ideas - love, sacrifice, belief systems. That might sounds strange, but I get a thrill out of understanding how things work.

What hurts you most in this world?

Wrong beliefs.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? How did you overcome it?
15 years ago I suffered from a viral illness that left me tired and unable to work for several months. Now I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) which means that sometimes I am unable to work and need to sleep or rest all day. As I am a very hard-working, ambitious personality type, this is very difficult for me to handle. However, I have learned to rest when I feel tired and to try to achieve less.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

I would actually like to live as a bird for a day. I would love to fly. Is that allowed? (Yes Steve, it is :) )

What is your favorite genre and why?

I don't really read genres. I find genre too limiting and prefer books that cross boundaries and think big. Boundaries are the places where interesting things happen.

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

I wrote poetry as a child, then started writing again seriously about 5 years ago. Now I blog and write regularly. You can read my blog at Why do I write? To change the world!

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

My first published novel is called The Yoga Sutras. It's a dark comedy about a middle-aged man who takes up yoga to calm his troubled mind. Unfortunately yoga has the opposite effect and soon he is living in a world of angels, demons, gods and goddesses.

It was inspired by the Yoga Sutras - the ancient writings of yoga by the sage Patanjali. I read this book some years ago and it precipitated an existential crisis. I wrote my novel to explain my thoughts and feelings about the Yoga Sutras so that others could access these ideas in a light and comic format. That sounds very serious - the book is a ridiculous romp through the worlds of yoga, religion, spirituality and gender identity.

What are your forthcoming writings?

The Yoga Sutras is the first of a trilogy exploring philosophical ideas in an absurd and comic format. The humour is dark - the philosophy is light!

What are your future plans?

I have plenty of ideas for more books - a series of thrillers set in Oxford and some more comedy.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

Point of view. I think it is important to get inside the mind of my character and to see the world as they see it.
Voice. This is related to point of view. I like a book with a strong and distinctive voice.
Plot. I do get bored by books where nothing significant is happening.
Vision. I am attracted by big ideas and I like to read books that blow my mind. That is what I try to do with my own writing.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing?

Too much! Writing is personal.
Yet at the same time fiction is not an autobiography. I strongly prefer fiction to real life writing, because real life is messy and has loose ends. In fiction, everything can be nicely tied together for a satisfying result.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Yes, for the kind of books I enjoy most. But writing skills such as plotting, pacing, etc are equally important.

Your dream destination on Earth?

I love to travel and explore. Must a journey have a destination?

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed.

I was born in Wales and have lived in England all my adult life. I have travelled to many parts of the world - Europe, Asia and America. I love to holiday in France and Italy, and one of the most interesting ountries I visited is Korea.

What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I like to see what's different in other places and use that to learn about myself and my own culture. Life is all about seeing things afresh.

Your favorite time of the day?

I'm more of a morning person. I'm also a workaholic, so working in the morning is what I enjoy best!

Your zodiac/ sunsign?


Your favorite color and why?

Your favorite book and why?
What an impossible question! I'll opt for the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, because it's a book with huge and deep ideas and a strong, compelling voice that drives the narrative forward.

Your favorite celebrity and why?

I'm not a big fan of celebrities, but I'll choose Bill Gates, because not only did he build the biggest computer company in the world and become the world's richest person, but he then set about giving his wealth away and trying to eliminate global poverty. Wow!

Your favorite food?

Pizza, but it's very bad for you! Eat green vegetables instead!

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote

Every moment is the opportunity of a lifetime.

The last line of your autobiography would be…

To be continued ...

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