Wickedly Clever & Talented Danny Gillan Writes Books, Music, And Delights In Teaching Unsuspecting Yanks To Use The Word 'Wanker' Often

Once again I'm delighted at the power of the cyberworld to connect us with interesting and extraordinary people we might never meet otherwise. Such is the case with Scottish author and musician Danny Gillan, and I must include his housemate Jake. The wickedly clever and talented Gillan grabs you on the first page and yanks you into the story like that video by A-Ha. Yes. He's that good, and I am elated to welcome him to Madame Perry's Salon.

Mme. Perry: Will You Love Me Tomorrow has an unlikely beginning with one of the main characters planning their own death. Every character is thrown into situations where they must deal, for their own purposes and with no real experience, with the shady individuals from the record label, media and the various inevitable flotsam in their periphery. You have quite a nimble hand at rendering all of these people with their agendas and interactions. Obviously you are very familiar with the business side of music.
Danny Gillan: Not really, to be honest. I certainly have plenty of experience with the business of being an unsuccessful musician. I did have some dealings with managers, producers, record companies etc when I was a lot younger, but nothing like the characters in the book experience. One of the joys of writing is that you get to lie so much.

As you say, I threw most of the characters into entirely unfamiliar situations, so I guess it makes sense that I had no idea what I was talking about either.
As for the opening – I’ve always said every good comedy should start with a suicide. It sets the tone nicely.
MP: Hmm, I suppose it does at that. Was there a particular story, or incident, that inspired this book?
DG: I was at an age when I began writing it where I had to accept I wasn’t going to make a living as a musician, so the story grew from that. I know lots of creative people who haven’t made it, be they musicians, actors, writers or artists. Dealing with that lack of success in your chosen field was what I wanted to explore. There are two musicians in the book, Bryan and Adam, and neither of them get the career they hope for (at least not while they’re still alive to enjoy it). Bryan takes this badly – he can’t imagine doing anything else and it causes him serious emotional trauma when he realises it’s not going to happen. On the other hand, Adam is pragmatic about it. He tried and it didn’t work so he moves on.
We’ve been conditioned by fiction to believe that if you try hard enough your dreams will eventually come true.  Most of us actually continue to accept this as truth, despite life constantly showing that it’s bollocks. For every underdog success story there are thousands of failures – that’s just a fact. I know and care more about those failures because I’m one of them, basically, and so are most of my friends. Their stories are more interesting to me, and that’s what I wanted to write about. How do you deal with that? What do you do after the dream dies? How do you pay the rent?
MP: Reading Scratch was fun because it also moved quickly with characters I could see, hear, and even imagine their behavior when they weren’t talking.
DG: That’s great to hear, thank you. I wanted Scratch to feel like a conversation with real people.  Normal, everyday people are, generally, hilarious. I have friends who would never consider putting words on a screen who can make me laugh harder and more consistently than my favourite stand-ups. They’re certainly a lot funnier than I am. Like most sensible folk, they just don’t happen to want to be writers or performers. They’ve got proper jobs. Scratch is intended to celebrate that. It isn’t heightened, there are no car chases or frantic, last-minute dashes through the city to win the hand of a one-true-love. It’s just about people being daft and sad and happy and funny and miserable and drunk and everything else we all are most of the time. 
MP: The ending of Scratch totally blindsided me, and I like that. What authors do you feel had the greatest influence on you as a writer?
DG: Ah yes, that ending. Some like it, some don’t, and I understand both views. I opted for realism over cliché but I get that some readers like their tropes and aren’t happy when you don’t follow them. That’s entirely fair, and perhaps it was a bit cruel of me to set the book up as a traditional relationship/romance story when actually it’s nothing of the sort.
Subverting expectations is one of the joys of writing, it’s what makes it fun. Some of my favourite writers are masters of the art. Coincidentally, many of them write for TV or film, even comics, rather than novels.  Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Robert Kirkman, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, those fellas.
Then you have the novelists – ElmoreLeonard, Christopher Brookmyre, Iain Banks, David Mitchell. Too many to list, really.
If I’ve read it and enjoyed it, it’s influenced me, simple as that. 
MP: Do you have a special ritual, time of day or night, genre of music that inspires you to write?
DG: Not consciously, though writing is an evening activity for me, definitely. I don’t do mornings. Mornings are a hellish invention and will be banished from the Earth when I’m The King of Everything. I always have music playing when I write. I have a hard-drive full of music I know I like and tend to just play it on random while I work. Or while I play, drink, sulk or do anything else. Anything without a drum machine that isn’t jazz (shudder) generally fits the bill.
MP: Do you ever read to Jake?
DG: That would be ridiculous, he’s a dog. He has his own Kindle.

Seriously? You know I can't turn pages.
Get my Kindle!
MP: Have any readers, besides me, asked for a short glossary to translate the Glaswegian terms or phrases?
DG: Surprisingly many, yes. I’ve yet to compile one but maybe I should get on that. I am quite proud of the fact that I’ve introduced the term ‘wanker’ to a lot of previously innocent US readers. I’m especially gratified when they let me know their children have used it in school.
MP: Could you tell the readers about Words With Jam?
DG: WordsWith JAM is an online magazine for writers. It’s written by writers, for writers, about writing, produced mainly using words that have been written down on writing machines.
It was founded in 2009 by JD Smith, an annoyingly talented author and acclaimed book cover designer who, having only three small children and about seventeen other jobs, decided to start a magazine because she just wasn’t busy enough.
 She gathered together a group of reprobates and asked us all to be funny and informative. Sometimes we manage it. Having a talent for talent spotting, she also found a few folk who had the sheer gall to go out and intimidate massively successful authors and publishing industry professionals and force them to participate in revealing interviews.
Actually, if I have one piece of advice for other writers, it would be to make a friend of JD Smith. Or at the very least, don’t make an enemy of her. She scares the hell out of me. 

MP: You wrote and recorded songs attributed to Bryan Rivers, the character in WYLMT and created music videos for these tunes complete with quotes from Rivers. As a musician yourself, what kind of challenge is there in creating music that is to be considered someone else’s song?
DG: Actually most of the songs attributed to Bryan Rivers were ones I had written and recorded as myself, before I began writing the book. Given that no one was interested in hearing or buying them though, I retroactively fitted them into Bryan’s back-story because it was easier than writing new ones.
I wrote many if the other lyrics in the book specifically for Bryan, though. Each chapter begins with a verse or chorus from one of his songs. This was a device for keeping Bryan ‘alive’ in the reader’s mind after the events of the opening, but I also wanted them to reflect the action or theme of each chapter. Some were from songs already written back in my ‘I want to be a rock star’ days, but many came later, after the main story was there. The biggest trick to making lyrics seem authentic is, by far, getting them to rhyme.

MP: Do you have CDs, as Danny Gillan or Bryan Rivers, that we can purchase?
DG: Nothing for sale, no. However there are some videos on youtube under Bryan Rivers’ name, and I have also put several of his songs on Soundcloud.

MP: After reading Scratch and Will You Love Me Tomorrow, I'm constantly checking your site for the next novel. I also downloaded A Selection Of Meats And Cheeses, your short story collection. Since you write, work on a magazine, write music and play out live I am honored that you could spend time here talking with me. Thank you again, Danny, and I wish you much success.

DG: Thank you for inviting me, it’s been a pleasure. I hope you enjoy the short stories. Some of them experiment with new genres for me, including the traditional Scottish writers’ realms of crime, violence, guns and misery. Hope that’s not too much of a shock. There’s even one that should probably be classed as sci-fi - it’s terrible.  A few of them are still just about daft idiots, mind.

MP: You, dear readers, have many options available by which to follow Gillan's books and music. You'll find him on Amazon, Goodreads, Smashwords, his blog,  Not enough? Stalk him on Twitter and Facebook, too!

And of course the last word goes to Gillan's long suffering, unselfish, always supportive pal, Jake.



Mike Gaul said…
Madame Perry hits a home run with an interview with Danny Gilliam. Gilliam's writing also reminds us that the fear of failure is constantly chasing us in life's rear view mirror.
Jennifer Perry said…
Thank you, Mike! I always love for you to share your insight with us.
Eugenia said…
This is such a great story and most of us relate to this, the only thing tha differ form one person to onother is how they take their failure's... you either give up on your dreams or learn from them, sometimes our dream may take a windy road but that does not mean you'll never get there, i am inspired thanks.
Jennifer Perry said…
Glad to read your comment, Eugenia. I believe Gillan's books ring true for me because they come from real life situations that he and his friends have experienced. He opens his heart and soul to share it all, and that can be risky, but it makes the reader care even more.
Denton said…
OK. Gillan does a great interview. Got my interest. These books I will now read.
David H. said…
Enjoyed this interview, even though I'm a morning person. ;) Great exchange!
Andrea Robinson said…
Mme. Perry, your comments from this blog post: http://madameperryssalon.blogspot.com/2014/06/bryan-rivers-hideaway.html confused and intrigued me so much that I did, indeed, take the time to find this interview with Danny Gillan. He's funny, creative, and comes with a dash of depravity and a soupçon of cynicism. I identify with the Scottish heritage of crime, violence, guns and misery. He speaks so fondly of that cultural background that I did indeed break down and buy Scratch and put Meats and Cheeses on my list.

Hysterical. Once again you amaze me with the great authors you find. :)
Danny said…
Thanks, Madam Perry, for allowing me the chance to talk nonsense on your blog, and thanks to everyone for their lovely comments.
Andrea - I hope you're not disappointed!
Andrea Robinson said…
I'm sure I'll be delightfully horrified with the daffy antics of your fictional friends!

Love your Facebook page, too, and shared your tips about preparing for Christmas on my page. One can never start too early, especially with the drinking part.

Helen Ginger said…
Probably one of the best author interviews I've ever read. Now I'm gonna have to go find the book!

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