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GARETH RUBIN talks to Ali Karim

Written by Ali Karim

We’ve recently been energised by a most unusual novel from the writer and journalist Gareth Rubin. We wrote at the time of its release: “Gareth Rubin’s two novellas that form The Turnglass is a narrative of mysterious beauty, locking two very different writing styles to tell two very different stories that are linked so, so very elegantly. Less of a novel, more a unique reading experience” Read the full review HERE

We’ve followed the author from his debut Liberation Square where we introduced our readers to his work HERE

And as ever we had a few questions regarding his most unusual work The Turnglass which the author kindly answered.

Ali Karim: So before we get started, could you give us a quick review of both your career in journalism and creative writing for our readers?

Gareth Rubin: Why not? I started off as a news journalist, turning freelance pretty early and then writing mostly about arts – film, books, theatre – and travel. That was a brilliant time, getting to travel the world and get paid for it. Then something grabbed hold of me and I got the idea of training as an actor. I did that, did a bit of professional work, touring Shakespeare, playing Dracula and other bits and pieces. Then back to journalism, writing about social affairs for the Observer. A bit of jink then, into writing books, and my first novel, Liberation Square, came out four years ago; and my second, The Winter Agent was published in 2020.

Ali: After The Winter Agent, what about COVID and the shutdowns? 

Gareth: It came out during the depths of Lockdown when all the bookshops were shut, so it was virtually impossible to buy it. That was on the tricky side.

Ali: After Liberation Square and The Winter Agent, what made you change direction toward The Turnglass?

Gareth: God knows. Yeah, it’s a bit of a spin, but I had this idea for a book that you can read from either direction and it just stuck there. I think it was also the technical challenge that appealed. And I wrote it during Lockdown in a conference room at The Observer because the building was empty so I could be left in peace for once.

Ali: Tell us about the actual writing process, especially the two vastly differing ‘writing styles’ and ‘voice’ and which did you enjoy penning most, the American Noir, or English Victorian Historical?

Gareth: Good question. I hate writing. Seriously – sitting at my laptop for eight hours a day is pain distilled. I can’t believe anyone enjoys it except psychopaths. I love having written a book, but the process itself is horrible. Like running a marathon, I expect.

I have never run a marathon. I never intend to.

Hmmm? Oh yes, back to the question. I hated writing the American Noir less than I hated writing the English Gothic story.

Ali: And what was the initial reaction from your agent and publisher when you submitted The Turnglass?

Gareth: My agent was fascinated. Then, when we were putting the manuscript to editors, the reactions tended to be: ‘What the hell is this?’ ‘Have you lost your mind?’ ‘If you don’t get out of this office, I’m calling the police.’ You know: undecided.

Then we found one very brave editor, Katherine Armstrong at Simon and Schuster, who took a punt on it. And now it’s on the Sunday Times bestseller list so we’re feeling vindicated.

Ali: There seems to be much international appeal for The Turnglass, so tell me what territories and languages have you sold rights to?

Gareth: France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Taiwan, Japan, the United States/Canada, Brazil. All the Commonwealth nations. A few more on the way.

Ali: So tell us a little about the books that have passed your desk that you have enjoyed?

Gareth: I write literary mysteries because I read them. So top of the list is The Name of the Rose (I also studied semiology at university, so a historical thriller about a semiologist detective monk in mediaeval Italy is a winner). Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is superb. I recently read An Instance of the Fingerpost and thought it marvellous.

Ali:  And films?

Gareth: Continuing the theme, the movie of The Name of the Rose with Sean Connery is very good. Don’t go near the recent TV series of it – it’s nonsense. If you enjoy nuclear-era interpretations of Shakespearean tragedies, the Peter Brook film of King Lear will grab you like a vice. 

Ali: And finally what’s your next project?

Gareth: A Sherlock Holmes novel. I’m in the edit stage right now. After that, a sequel to The Turnglass.

Ali: Thank you for your time

Gareth: Any time.

Shots Magazine would like to thank Katherine Armstrong of Simon and Schuster for her help in organising this interview. 

Photos / Images  (c) 2023 Mike Stotter, Goldsboro Books, Simon and Schuster, PenguinRandomHouse, Bloomsbury, Vintage and Columbia Pictures

More information about Gareth Rubin is available from https://www.garethrubin.com   

Signed copies of The Turnglass can be obtained from Goldosboro Books, London HERE

Gareth Rubin

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