I met John Dolan toward the end of 2012. We immediately clicked. I think I liked the hat or perhaps it was the mystery of the man beneath the hat. Not surprisingly, his blog is called Galericulate (having a hat-like covering).
John is a witty man. Mysterious, witty men intoxicate me, so I picked up a copy of his book, Jim Fosse’s Expense Claim to see if his writing matched his intelligent Twitter ramblings. I’m happy to say it did. The book was hilarious! You can read my review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Smashwords.
Shortly thereafter, I bought his book, Everyone Burns, unaware it took place in one of my favorite countries in the world—Thailand. I read it while on holiday and truly enjoyed it. My review of it will be available shortly.
I imagine John’s writing style is a close reflection of who he really is—a charming man who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
As my first interview of the year, you’re in for a treat. Please welcome John Dolan and get to know more about the man under the hat.
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So…who the heck is John Dolan?
“Makes a living by travelling, talking a lot and sometimes writing stuff down. Galericulate author, polymath and occasional smarty-pants.”
John Dolan hails from a small town in the North-East of England. Before turning to writing, his career encompassed law and finance. He has run businesses in Europe, South and Central America, Africa and Asia. He and his wife Fiona currently divide their time between the UK, the UAE and Thailand.
His mystery novel Everyone Burns is the first book in the Time, Blood and Karma series.
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Available in print and as an ebook
It is January 2005 and the charred remains of two Europeans have been discovered on the Thai island of Samui. Local Police Chief Charoenkul, sidelined by his superiors, enlists the reluctant David Braddock, a burnt-out private detective, to assist in an ‘unofficial’ investigation. But Braddock has problems of his own, including his affair with the same Police Chief’s wife … Peppered with irreverent humour and some pithy comments on everyday life in the Land of Smiles, Everyone Burns is much more than a crime novel. It is also a carefully-crafted psychological study of an anti-hero for our time.
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Jim Fosse’s Expense Claim is FREE on Smashwords and includes the first chapter of Everyone Burns by way of a taster.
Once you’ve met Jim Fosse you’ll never feel quite the same about opening your e-mails … A darkly humorous short story of obsession.
WARNING: Contains sexual references and some really terrible grammar.
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Inside John’s Mind
Hi, Eden. It’s a great pleasure to be able to spend some time with you. And it’s rather refreshing to be round the other side of the table being interviewed instead of doing the interviewing.
[Eden] You do wonderful interviews in your dungeon, John. Mine are a bit more serious, but I promise not to inflict any bodily harm on you, so no worries. Let’s start with an easy question.
Tell me your idea of perfect happiness. I’m not sure we humans ever reach a condition of perfect happiness. We have brains that are programmed forever to keep us wanting new stuff and that results in our being in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction. The advertising industry knows this only too well. I think that’s why Capitalism has been one of the more enduring systems in human history (though that is not necessarily a situation I’m comfortable with).
My idea of happiness is a state where basic needs are satisfied – through having security, somewhere to call home, enough to eat, meaningful activities to engage in, good health, and some loving relationships – coupled with an absence of irrelevant wants (which is pretty much everything else).
The older I get, the more I realise that possessions are just a burden; something else to worry about. An important realisation for me was that we never actually own anything – we’re just keeping it in good condition for the next person. So the less of this I have to do the better.
That probably all sounds a bit pretentious. But then I am a bit pretentious. A soupçon, anyway.
Not pretentious at all, what turns you on creatively then? The absence of having to think about business life is the short answer.
I have my best ideas when I’m not really thinking too hard – then my subconscious can do all the work (it’s far better at this type of thing than I am). So most of my writing really happens in elevators, queues at immigration, in the shower and when I’m half-asleep by a swimming pool.
I have no idea where it all comes from, it just happens by itself. And because my subconscious has no concept of what a ‘genre’ is, it does its own thing. I then have to struggle afterwards to work out which ‘box’ this thing I’ve written falls into. I slapped a ‘detective’ label on my novel ‘Everyone Burns’, but it’s not really a detective story at all. I’m not actually sure what it is.
When I’m writing music, I sit down with my guitar and switch off the ‘censor’ in my head. Once I’ve done that, somebody else seems to do the creative stuff. I’m just a medium really.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “To my mind…” and “obviously” – both of which are, of course, completely superfluous. Now I come to think of it, “of course” is another one. At least it is to my mind, obviously.
What quality do you most admire in a woman? Lack of morals would rate pretty high on my list, along with a strong sex drive.
[Eden] I was afraid of that.
But seriously, compassion is the quality I most admire in people – whether men or women (although I tend to find more of it in the fairer sex). Intelligence, wit and good looks are all very well, but all these facets in an individual stale or become overly-familiar with time.
The Dalai Lama says that his real religion is compassion. That sounds like a pretty good philosophy to me.
And to me too. What is your greatest regret? Not meeting you before I got married.
OK, that’s a bit cheesy, even for me. I suppose I wish I’d done a bungee jump before I compressed one of the disks in my lower spine. Now I’d be a bit worried that I’d break in two if I did one.
I’m not prone to regrets actually – it seems a bit pointless.
Agree, so if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d like to be able to relax more. My brain is far too busy. It’ll explode one of these days.
That would be messy. What is your greatest fear? That I will outlive my wife Fiona or any of my children.
There is an old Zen saying that good fortune is when a father dies before his son. I used to think that was a pessimistic take on life, but now I think it’s right on the button: it’s the natural order of things.
Which living person do you most admire? My wife, Fiona. She’s taught me that I over-complicate and over-intellectualise things and that I should just be. She’s also a very compassionate person, and you know how I feel about compassion.
[Eden] You’re a lucky man, John. She sounds lovely.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? I hope I’m not coming back. I want to do everything this time around. But if I do have to come back, I’d like to come back as a woman just to see what a multiple orgasm is like.
[Eden] Not to make you regretful that you’ve never had one, but they are awesome!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Surviving a bitter divorce relatively unscathed. ‘Nuff said.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Selfishness. People should be more interested in me than in themselves.
[Eden] Ever the comedian.
What is your greatest extravagance? I’m not really into material things, but I love travelling and experiencing new cultures and people. So I guess aeroplane tickets to distant places.
[Eden] SO with you on that one.
What is one thing you want to do before you die? There is no one thing, I want to do everything. I’m not planning on dying anytime soon, so hopefully I’ll make this.
I definitely want to get the whole of the ‘Time, Blood and Karma’ series finished (seven books), and I have another seven books in mind – hopefully I won’t go gaga before these are all done. And I’d like to record my songs at some stage before the old voice gets too hoarse.
So who is your favorite writer/musician/film director? Favourite writer has varied over the years – it has been Graham Greene, Michael Moorcock and William Boyd, among others. Currently it’s Haruki Murakami.
[Eden] I knew there was a reason I liked you. Murakami is one of mine too.
Musician – probably Tracey Chapman.
Film director – don’t have one. I don’t watch many films.
And finally, what is your motto? “Be nice to Canadians – you never know when you might need one.” Obviously.
[Eden] You’re a nut, but you’re an original nut! Thanks for indulging me with your answers, John. I knew you would provide my readers with more insight into your twitty, I mean witty mind.
Readers, please say “hi” to John and leave a comment for him. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook. He really is a sweet man to know.
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