The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Paul Bress

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Paul Bress

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Summary: We were intriqued by The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress written as a diary kept by four members of the titular dysfunctional family and we couldn't resist the temptation of asking him a few questions.
Date: 30 April 2011
Interviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee

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We were intriqued by The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress written as a diary kept by four members of the titular dysfunctional family and we couldn't resist the temptation of asking him a few questions.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Paul Bress: I don't know why, but, when I close my eyes, I see 'middle-aged' women with degrees reading the book... (I don't consciously write for any target audience.)

  • BB: Where did you get the inspiration for the story of the Brown family?

PB: I think that human beings are capable of anything, absolutely anything, and that's what makes them so interesting. Jack and Theo are extremely different but born of the same parents - and therefore a vehicle for the expression of what I think about humanity.

  • BB: Writing the story in diary format was brave and I think you pulled it off well. Where did the idea come from?

PB: I wanted each member of the family to have his/her own voice, so a diary form seemed best. The research framework was used to conjure up an 'authentic' act of writing.

  • BB: I see that you share initials with the head of the dysfunctional family. I hardly dare ask, but is there anything autobiographical in the story?

PB: I never even realised that I shared the same initals with Phil Brown! This novel is one in which I identify with none of the characters personally. But, who knows, maybe there's something Freudian going on, and there is a bit of me in Phil Brown!

  • BB: As I read the book I sensed that you understood the Browns' problems well. Do you think that they’re more dysfunctional than most families?

PB: No, not really. Like The Simpsons, they're probably just as functional as most families. They all end up with appropriate partners after dallying with others. And Phil and Sue end up as friends. Perhaps that's the best we can wish for these days?

  • BB: Which of the Browns do you empathise with most? Are you at all tempted to ask them to continue with their diaries for our benefit?

PB: I probaly empathise with them equally - otherwise this would have been difficult to write. Some of my friends have suggested that I write a sequel, but I have no plans to do this.

  • BB: Where and how do you write?

PB: I write methodically. Three sessions every day, each of which is between an hour and an hour and a half. I write in longhand, then word process it, and spell check it and edit it. I always reread the previous day's work before beginning a new day's work.

  • BB: Is writing the day job and if not, do you wish that it could be? What would be your dream job?

PB: It is my day job but I'd like to make more money from my writing! However, if anyone feels touched by my writing, I feel it's all worthwhile.

  • BB: You’ve got one wish. What’s it to be? (Sorry – world peace and the eradication of poverty have already been taken.)

PB: To have a partner who values what I do (and vice versa).

  • BB: What's next for Paul Bress?

PB: I'm currently writing a novel called 'The Lift'. Two people from different social classes are stuck in a broken-down lift. They are forced to share something of themsleves and reveal (and perhaps overcome?) their prejudices.

  • BB: We'll look forward to reading 'The Lift', Paul. Thank you for talking to us.

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