Drew Gummerson – Q&A

Drew Gummerson
Drew Gummerson
Lambda Award finalist. Writer of The Lodger, Me and Mickie James, Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel. Kuper’s Tube coming Nov 22
Drew can be found at:
Twitter: @drewgum
Linktree: https://linktr.ee/drewgum

Tell me what inspired you to write your debut novel?

My debut, The Lodger, was written twenty years ago. I’d always wanted to write from being a kid. I’d been living in Australia, had spent a lot of time looking after my boyfriend’s nephew. Then I came home, saw a headline in a national newspaper saying how it was disgusting gay people should be allowed to adopt. That was the inspiration for The Lodger. Apart from being a murder mystery it’s about an alternative family unit.

What came first the characters or the world?

Always the characters. I’m terrible at plots. My last book, Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel, started literally with me writing a sentence about a hotel dishwasher waking up in his room. I had no idea what was going to happen next.

How hard was it to get published?

I’ve had three books with three different publishers. The first and latest with small indie publishers. The second was with a big publisher. I had an agent at the time. I’ve written a chapbook You: From Pissed to Publication. My publishing journey is in there sort of.

How long did it take to write?

The Lodger three months. Everything else, years. These days I tend to write little bits, piece them together, spend months and months editing. It’s like I’m writing and rewriting sketches.

Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?

I tend to listen to vinyl before I write. If you follow me on Twitter I often post my morning listen.

How many publishers turned you down?

I’ve been turned down by all of them and none of them. With Me and Mickie James, when I had an agent, the rejections were much nicer. Publishers telling me I would have a great career and so on. But not with them…

Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel was turned down by no one. Bearded Badger, who I sent it to first, took it on.

What kind of reactions have you had to your book?

Flamingo Hotel has had the best reaction by far. Writers I admire have said nice things about it. Although a lot of people have said how rude it is. That surprised me…

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

I don’t have a favourite one. I think once your book’s public you just have to grin and bear it, whatever people say. You can’t judge their reaction.

What can you tell us about your next book?

Ah. Kuper’s Tube is out November 2022, with Bearded Badger. It’s set in a video postcard shop in a rundown seaside resort. If you want pizzazz, they’ve got pizzazz!

Do you take notice of online reviews?

For sure! They’re the only reviews I get. I don’t know how you wouldn’t.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Yes. I want to write Mills and Boon books. I got all the bumpf from them years ago, how long they should be, what needed to happen when. I need to do it.

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I’ve always had a full time job…

Which author inspire you?

I have loads. Raymond Carver, George Saunders, Rupert Thomson, Alice Munro, Willy Vlautin, Emmanuel Bove. I’ve written a short story collection. I wrote it after reading Camilla Grudova’s The Doll’s Alphabet. I thought, I want to do something like that.

Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel
Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel

Which genres do you read yourself?

My reading these days is dominated by what small indie presses are putting out. There’s so much good stuff away from the mainstream.

What is your biggest motivator?

What Will Self said. I have a Sgt Major in my head telling me to crack on. I both love and hate him.

What will always distract you?

My two dogs, Walter and Fergus.

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

With Bearded Badger we had a discussion around its mood ie seedy rundown hotel for Flamingo Hotel. The designer did 3 or 4 mock ups and we decided together on our favourite.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Massive. I was always reading.

What were your favourite childhood books?

Wishing Chair and Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton. Then I loved Robert Westall. The Machine Gunners, Fathom Five.

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

I loved Bearded Badger Books in Belper. It was indie heaven but sadly it is now closed.

What books can you not resist buying?

I tend to be loyal to small presses. So I buy their books without thinking. It’s about trust.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

I write on my phone. Is that a ritual? I only write in the morning. Sat at the kitchen table.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

Haha. Don’t ask that! There are dozens.

What is your current or latest read?

I’ve just read The Children of Paradise, Camilla Grudova and now started Boulder by Eva Balthasar (trns Julia Sanches).

Any books that you’re looking forward to in the next 12 months?

One of my fellow writers at AbcTales.com, Peter Bennett has a book coming out later in the year, Liberties. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Guy Ware’s The Peckham Experiment. It’s brilliant. Nicola Ashbrook’s The Art of Escapology is out imminently with Bearded Badger. And then George Saunders has a new collection out soon. And Will Wiles’ The Last Blade Priest is also due very soon.

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

Kuper’s Tube. Out in November. You stayed at Flamingo Hotel. Now it’s time to take a trip to Kuper’s Tube. Where all you video postcard dreams may come true.

Any events in the near future?

I’m rarely seen in public.

And finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

I’m worried I’m dull. Well I am. So when I’m writing I throw in all the gags that escape me in real life.

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