Sunday, April 24, 2011

Doodling by Jonathan Gould

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After Neville Lansdowne falls off the world, he finds himself adrift in an asteroid field full of eccentric characters. But escaping from the hustle and bustle of the world is not so easy and Neville soon finds himself on an urgent quest to save the asteroid field. Douglas Adams meets Lewis Carroll (with just a touch of Gulliver’s Travels) in this engaging comic fantasy.

Jonathan Gould is a Melbourne based writer and doodler who specializes in modern fairytales for the young at heart. He has a background in comedy writing and a couple of published children’s stories in Australia. Doodling is his first published ebook, available from Amazonand Smashwords. Jonathan blogs at and you can follow him on twitter at jonno_go

What will readers like about your book?
It’s different. It’s funny. It has an engaging characters and an absorbing plot. And it will especially appeal to people who, like me, would just to love to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Why did you self publish?
I’ve been banging my head against the local (Australian) publishing industry for years. They like my stories but can never seem to figure out how to place them. Are they for children or adults? Are they fantasy or science-fiction or something else entirely? Which is why I’ve decided to go it alone. I’ve even created a new genre to describe my stories. I call them “dag-lit”, based on the Australian term “dag” which refers to a person who doesn’t fit in.

What is your writing process?
Generally my stories are inspired by themes or ideas (eg the idea that the world is moving too fast). The ideas can come from many places – comments people make, something I’ve read in a book or newspaper or seen on television. Once I have the idea, I try to craft out a story in order to express it, developing a premise, a location, and a set of characters that can help to bring it out in different ways. And then the fun starts, mixing and matching these various elements until a plot begins to appear. Hopefully, if all of the aspects above are set up properly, the story tends to develop quite naturally. Generally I like to have things quite well mapped out before I get down to the hard work of drafting, scribbling down ideas in notebooks and making lists of characters and their qualities and quirks. Doodling was the one exception where I just sat down and wrote without thinking about where it was going. But it worked so well I’m sure I’m going to try it again.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?
It’s really hard to answer that. As I work full time, I tend to scrounge for writing time here and there. Sometimes I get really motivated and do a lot of writing in a short time. Other times I barely write for months on end. Doodling was originally drafted in that way over the course of about a year I reckon.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
The idea was actually inspired by a comment by my wife that the world was moving too quickly. At that time I’d just finished a year of a writing course. I was a bit fed up with the fact that I was writing primarily to fulfill assignment requirements and I was looking for a project that would make writing fun again. Instantly the image of a person falling off the world because it was moving so fast came to me. The next day I’d written a first draft of the first chapter, where my main character, Neville, finds himself marooned within an asteroid field after “letting go” of the world. At that stage I had no idea where the plot was going, but every week I would sit down and make up another chapter of what I began to call my “literary doodling”.


Neville Lansdowne fell off the world.

Actually he did not so much fall off as let go. The world had been moving so quickly lately and Neville was finding it almost impossible to keep up.

It hadn’t always been that way. There had been a time when keeping up was not a problem. A time when the world was moving at a nice, leisurely speed and a gentle walk had been sufficient. But then the world began to get faster. Suddenly Neville found himself jogging, and then running. His cheeks became flushed and his lungs panted and puffed as they struggled to get the air he needed to maintain his pace.

Still faster and faster the world went. Neville’s life was a dash, a hundred metre sprint. There was no way he could keep this going. As his legs turned to jelly and collapsed under him, Neville grasped in desperation for something to hold on to. A tree, a stick, a small crack in the footpath. He dug his fingernails in and gripped tightly as the world dragged him along, his hair flying wildly behind him and his legs kicking loosely at the air. His whole body strained and tears began to well in his eyes as the wind rushed against his face.

Slowly, surely, he could feel his grip loosening, could sense the strength departing from his fingers. He couldn’t hold on much longer. Any second now and the strain would be too much. His arms would break. His fingers would be ripped off. His whole body would snap into two. The pain was unbearable. Something had to give.

Neville let go.

For a couple of seconds he lay, breathing slowly. Letting the strength flow back into his body. Waiting for the feeling to return to his arms. Then he looked up and saw the world spinning away, disappearing into the darkness of space. Neville was seized with panic. He leapt up and began chasing after the world. Trying to catch up with it again so he could get back on board. But he was too slow. Soon the world was nothing but a tiny dot, no bigger than a golf ball.

Neville stopped and watched as the world diminished into a pinhole of blue and then vanished. He was alone. All around him was nothingness. Neville shivered. He wasn’t used to such quiet. It felt strange and slightly unnerving. What could it mean? How should he feel? What was he to do?

Neville looked around. High above, the lights of the stars twinkled. To his left, a comet flashed past. To his right, a sudden blaze of brightness flared, a distant supernova. It was a beautiful sight. An everlasting silent night.

Suddenly Neville was overcome by a feeling of peace. No more desperately rushing to keep up. No more frantically clinging on for dear life. Neville didn’t need the world anymore. He was free.

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