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Q&A  •  5 February 2024


Gareth Brown shares how a yearning to travel inspired The Book of Doors

Plus find out why he’d choose to live in Middle Earth and main difference between him and Hugh Jackman.

What was your writing process like? Did you have a writing routine or any regular rituals?

I didn't have any routine or rituals while writing The Book of Doors. I work full time so, to be honest, I would write whenever I could find the time. 

That meant a lot of evenings and weekends, and sometimes during lunch breaks. On more than one occasion I was writing on my phone before bed. (I don’t recommend it . . . but I could get a thousand words down with my thumbs!) It helps that I can touch type, so I can get lots of words down pretty quickly if I know what I want to write. 

But generally, my approach is to get as much stuff down as quickly as possible, and then make it better in the edit and rewrite. I don’t waste time trying to make the first draft perfect. The initial generation of words is the hardest bit for me and editing is when it starts to become fun because you can see it getting better and coming to life.

How did you first come up with the idea for the book? 

I had the idea of a ‘book of doors’ for quite a long time, but I’d always imagined it as a device for a fantasy setting. I do read fantasy, but not nearly enough to write confidently in the genre, so the idea was always just there in the back of my mind. And then, during Covid lockdowns, I found I missed travelling and I would daydream about being able to open the door of my study and step through to somewhere else, as if I had that ‘book of doors’. In a moment of unexpected inspiration, I wondered what would happen if such a book existed in our contemporary world. That was the start of it.

What surprised you most about the publishing process?

The timelines involved. The Book of Doors was sold in September 2022, and it will be published in February 2024. That feels like a long time when you’ve wanted to be published your whole life. (But the final product is all the better for it!)

If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Oh, that’s a hard one. Can I include my own characters? Because Drummond Fox in The Book of Doors likes a good meal, and his tastes are surprisingly close to my own! 

If not . . . maybe Bilbo Baggins? Hobbits generally seem to appreciate a good meal in comfortable surroundings.

If you were a character in a novel, what would be your signature quirk or catchphrase?

Wow, these are like exam questions. Really having to think here . . . 

I think the best characters are surprising, so I would like my catchphrase to be something like ‘And you weren’t expecting that, were you?’  

Although that makes it sound like a sketch-show character, which is maybe not good.  

Okay, my character’s signature quirk would be not having a catchphrase. How’s that?  

What fictional world would you want to live in, and how would you survive or thrive there?

Is it too obvious to say Middle Earth? Not the Middle Earth of The Lord of The Rings . . . the Middle Earth just after Sauron has been defeated when everything is much more pleasant and I could have lots of those good meals in comfortable surroundings. 

I have no idea how I would survive. I’d befriend a hobbit.

What's the weirdest talent or skill you have that not many people know about?

I don’t know if it’s that much of a secret, but I am a very good bass guitar player. I can also play guitar and piano, but I am better at bass.

What's your go-to karaoke song, and how well do you perform it?

Ha! no. 

No karaoke for me. I would not sing in public. In the car by myself, I can belt out a few of the songs from The Greatest Showman. I have no shame about that. They are brilliant songs. Hugh Jackman has an impressive range. My range is not as good. (Otherwise, me and Hugh Jackman are exactly alike though, naturally.)

Where is your happy place and why?

At home with a cup of tea, watching good television or reading a good book. I love tea and I love stories. And I love my home comforts. 

If not at home I would probably say in a city somewhere, maybe Tokyo or New York, on the street with all the life and activity buzzing around me.

Feature Title

The Book of Doors
These books are like weapons. And possession is power. . . With a perfect combination of dark magical books, unforgettable characters, and a storyline that grabs the reader and simply doesn't let go, this is the heart-stoppingly exciting contemporary fantasy debut of 2024.
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