Getting to Know You: Callum Gibson

Today, another former classmate of mine has released his first publication. Thanks to Good Guy Publishing, Callum Gibson’s ‘Buckle’ is available for download now. What are you waiting for? Here’s Callum to tell us a bit more about himself.

Vic x

Tell us about ‘Buckle’.

‘Buckle’ is short story (it may be a novella – I’m not so hot with the definitions) that revolves around a guy named Chuck and his descent from regular guy into the violent depths of emasculated madness. It’s a comedy… Just kidding. I guess the most obvious thing to say is that it’s a horror, because in some places it’s horrific (and I’m not just talking about the writing), but when I think about ‘Buckle’, I think of it as being a love story. A love story that’s gone wrong, but a love story nonetheless.

How did you get into writing?

Do people ever answer this question with anything other than, “Well, it’s a funny story…”? Well, I’m no different, but it’s also a long story and one that I won’t bore you with right now, though I will say a couple of things. I actually started wanting to write screenplays and went to university to learn how to do so. It was only after I read ‘It’ by Stephen King that I decided I wanted to write novels. I say this all the time, but that book blew my mind. Blew my mind and changed my life.

What are your plans now? Anything else in the pipeline?

At the moment I’m working on a sequel to a coming of age novel I wrote whilst studying for the MA in Creative Writing at Northumbria University. When the first one was over I figured that I’d said all I had to about high school, adolescent love, and the days we all look back on with longing looks from time to time. Turns out I hadn’t, which is awesome, as I get to hang out with old friends again for another six to eight months. I’m about 300 pages in and it seems to be going well.

What do you like most about writing? What do you dislike (if anything)?

I like how it feels as though I’m going nuts if I don’t do it. I like how it steals me for hours. I also like that I can take a break when I please, and that I can do it wearing nothing other than a smile – there isn’t much work out there for a naked fellow these days. I also like the fact that I can hang out and drink tea and smoke cigarettes all day and still consider myself to have ‘been working’. There isn’t much I don’t like about it. Some people say that it’s a lonely thing to do, but I don’t find that it is. Yeah, I’m alone when I work, but not lonely. Rejection’s a bitch as well, that probably sucks the most. There’s nothing quite like working on something for a year and having someone tell you it’s not good enough. It’s akin to being kicked in the guts over and over again, or being told your baby’s ugly (probably, I don’t have babies, ugly or not).

What inspires you to write?

Everything. Being happy and being sad, being in love and being alone. The video games I play, the movies I watch, the books I read, the conversations I have, and the conversations I hear. I guess the biggest inspirations to me are the people in my life; the friends who all lend themselves in one way or another to the characters I write, not to mention suffering my endless writing-related rants, and my family who are still on-board with the whole ‘I wanna be a professional-writer’ thing even when sometimes all seems so far away.

Do you find time to read, if so what are you reading at the moment?

Yeah, I read a lot. It helps that I have a job where I can sit and read for the first few hours of every shift. At the moment I’m reading ‘Hearts in Atlantis’ by Stephen King. I’ve spent the last three years reading his catalogue, and everything he’s done breaks my heart with its awesomeness.

Which author(s) has/have had the biggest influence on your writing?

Stephen King, though I’m not yet – nor ever may be – good enough to put into words how much his work inspires me with its terror and its heart and its tragedy and its comedy.

J.K. Rowling. I read through the Harry Potter saga recently in the space of about five weeks (I told you there was a lot of downtime in my job) and it totally slayed me. Coming to it after years of hype and excited chatter from, well, pretty much the entire world, I was skeptical, but every column inch, every glowing review was justified. An amazing achievement.

Nick Hornby. Reading ‘High Fidelity’ sort of changed the way I look at books. Written from the protagonists point of view, it greatly influenced the way I wrote during the MA.

Oh and, though they’re not authors (at least not first), I love the works of Kevin Smith, Denis Leary, and John Cusack. Three more cats who not only influence my work but how I think about things; how I live.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

I’d be a cowboy. In fact, when I’ve made my millions from the ol’ book industry I’m gonna saddle up and ride off into the sunset to shoot bandits, smoke cigarettes and sing sad songs alone on a grassy verge.

What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses?

As a writer, or just in general? Well, I can be quite grumpy sometimes… Oh, I see. Writing-wise I think I’m pretty strong in the character department, and my dialogue can be quite cool – if not coarsely vulgar. Actually, yeah, that’s it. I’m good at swearing. That’s what it boils down to; I can make someone both seem both vulgar and sweet in the same sentence. I’m quite poetic when it comes down to that stuff, and I hear it flows with a nice rhythm. Weaknesses include a tendency to ramble, a loathing of chopping out dialogue even though it’s sometimes not really relevant, and I guess that I sometimes second-guess myself (and when I do it’s painfully obvious in the writing).

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m writing a sequel to my coming of age novel ‘Knowin’ Jack’. It’s called ‘Knowin’ Jack: Older! Wiser?’ and I’m having a blast working on it. After having written a children’s book it feels good to get back to my sweary roots, back to the characters that I’m probably going to love more then any of others I’ll ever write.

Where can we find you online?

You can tweeterise me at @airisbad1, and follow the intricacies of my life as I travel from my laptop to work to bed, and then back again. I’m also on Facebook (of course I am) so you can hit me up on there. Oh, and if any of y’all play Playstation my PSN ID is airisbad – so feel free to come and join the game.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I don’t know if I’m the write (hoho) guy to be giving advice, but I’ll tell you one thing that I’ve found, and that’s that no one ever wrote anything without ever writing. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Writing. So if you want to be a writer, write. Write until your fingers are bloody nubs, until the backs of your knees are rashed with pussy sweat-sores, until your eyes cry computer-screen-induced tears of blood. It’s all we can do.

What’s been your proudest moment?

Towards the end of the MA I was waiting for the results to come in. The work that was being marked was the end of ‘Knowin’ Jack’. Stupidly, I had my hopes set high (if you want to make God laugh then tell him your plans, eh?) and said that I wanted to get this really high score. Anyway, when the marks came back it turns out I got three marks higher than my ridiculous prediction. Now that’s pretty cool in itself, but it’s almost irrelevant to my proudest moment. My sister had come with me to uni to kinda keep me company, hold my hand, and just generally make sure that I didn’t pass out, and after we saw the mark we stood in the quad and I rang my grandma. At the time she was a very sick lady, and has since passed, but when I spoke to her on the phone, when I told her what had happened she told me that she was so proud of me. And that’s it. She made me cry that day, in public no less, but I’ll never forget it, and everything that has happened since, all of the wonderful things don’t compare. Not to that.

I’d like to thank Callum so much for sharing that moment – and so many others – with us today. I implore you to download it now:


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