Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Q&A with Michael Forester, author of The Goblin Child and Other Stories

Now available from Pegasus House Publishing is The Goblin Child and Other Stories by Michael Forester.

The author has taken a few minutes out of his busy schedule for a Q&A about his newest novel.

When did you become interested in storytelling?

My interest in stories is lifelong– I think this is so for all of us, part of the human condition if you will. If someone says to us “I want to tell you a story,” we pay immediate attention. We are curious by nature. All of us have a story to tell, some of us have many. To me they are all part of the same story – the story of the journey we all share. This story has many chapters, many paragraphs, many twists and turns in the plot line. But all of it serves to document who we are, where we have come from and where we are going.

What was your first book/story published?

In the last century I wrote for business. But even back then the books I wrote incorporated stories and attracted readers who saw themselves in those stories and wanted to learn from them. It’s the same with creative writing. We are all drawn to stories in which we can see ourselves – in which we can relate to the characters. The stories that attract us most are those we identify with – where we can position ourselves, as it were, in the story. In this way, each reader makes the story their own story.

My first published creative book was If It Wasn’t For That Dog, the story of my first year with my Hearing Dog, Matt (so yes, I’m deaf). Published in 2008, the book still sells well and is now entering its second edition. The late Sir Anthony Jay (writer of Yes Minister) described it as a ‘hugely enjoyable true life story of how an assistance dog changed a life.’ Bruce Fogle MBE described it as ‘a humorous and heartfelt chronicle about two individuals learning to dance together in perfect harmony.’ I think those two quotes aptly sum up the book.

What inspired you to write The Goblin Child?

Goblin Child evolved slowly over 15 years. It’s a short story collection and even I didn’t fully understand the link between the stories while I was writing them – not until the book was drawn together by the final story in the collection – Circling The Moon. Circling the Moon is a story of interracial love in a racist age. Set partly in Antigua, the inspiration came when I was on the island in 2007. Positioned as the Swansong of a dying poet, The Goblin Child is his collected stories looking back over the journey that has been his life.

What character in The Goblin Child is the most/least like you, and in what ways?

As I look back over the collection I see aspects of myself in most, if not all of the stories – not that I always like what I see, you understand! From the narrator of the first story, Birthday, who remembers his birth (actually we all do if we did deep enough to find the memory) through Bartholomew, the hater of bureaucracy, in Only Three Billion Dreams to the abandoned husband who narrates You Say Goodbye. These characters are all in some way me.

What is your favourite part in The Goblin Child?

Wow, what an incredibly difficult question to answer! I love all the stories for different reasons – the sheer beauty of the prose in In Memory of the Tishbite, the deep thought that is always provoked by The Rational Choice, the immediacy and importance of the real world events behind Samphire and The Man Who Spoke to The Dryads. Please don’t ask me to choose!

What was the hardest part to write?

Without a doubt, the more autobiographical the story, the more demanding it was to write. So The Pretty One addressing the rejection of a child by a parent, You Say Goodbye addressing the ending of a marriage, Escape Velocity dealing with the loss of a deeply loved friend; all these are personal and all were challenging to write. Perhaps for this reason some may say they are the best of the collection.

What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

A torch bearer. My calling is, to the best of my ability, to light the way for others on their journeys as, in turn, my way has been illuminated for me.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

I hope I will always work at getting better at what I do. I would never want to stagnate. For this reason I read every review of my books that I can find. If the work has been appreciated and understood, that’s wonderful. If not, I seek to understand why and consider whether that should influence what I do in future.

What well-known writers do you admire most?

The list is endless. However, three come to mind for particular reasons.

When I started writing creatively I said my eventual aim was to write intellectually like Robert Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) , and emotionally like Isobel Allende (Paula). Since then I have discovered the most beautiful book ever written – But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer. If I achieve anywhere near what these giants of literature have created I will be overjoyed.

Do you have any other books/stories in the works?

I hope to publish two books a year from now until at least 2020. All being well, February 2017 will see the publication of my first mind-body-spirit book, Forest Rain, Spiritual Learnings for A New Age. I intend that this will be followed in June by A Home For Other gods, a dystopian novella that sits mid way between Kafka and George Orwell and draws directly on both of their works.

About the Author: Some are born with silver spoons in their mouths. Michael Forester was born with a pen in his hand. He is a deafened writer living in, and drawing his inspiration from, Hampshire’s New Forest. Michael’s most recent book, The Goblin Child, is a disarmingly eclectic collection of prize winning short stories exploring the circularity of our lives and the events in them, so independent, so seemingly random, yet truly interdependent, connected, planned. It follows his first published creative work in 2009, If It Wasn’t For That Dog, about his first year with his hearing dog, and his hugely successful 2016 novel in rhyming verse, Dragonsong.

Michael is a Winchester Writer’s Festival prizewinner and has been long/shortlisted three times in the Fish Writing Contest. His work has appeared several international journals and competitions.

His children look on aghast as he squanders their inheritance on such profligacies as A4 printing paper. They need have no concern. He plans to leave them the pen.

Michael divides his time between Hampshire and Somerset, and is regularly to be found at book signings and events across the country talking about storytelling or his beloved hearing dog Matt. He attended Oxford University.

Learn more about Michael at

You can follow him Facebook and Twitter.

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