Tab Interview: Gavin James Bower

CHRISTIANA SPENS speaks to the author of “Dazed and Aroused” – a novel that has been compared to the writing of Bret Easton Ellis, Jay MacInerney and Joe Stretch.

Christiana Spens Dazed and Aroused Gavin James Bower

GAVIN JAMES BOWER is the author of “Dazed and Aroused” – a novel that draws upon his experience as a model and journalist, and which has been compared to the writing of Bret Easton Ellis, Jay MacInerney and Joe Stretch. He is presently working on a new novel, “Made in Britain”, and a screen adaptation of his debut. 

CHRISTIANA SPENS: What age did you start writing seriously?

GAVIN JAMES BOWER: I didn’t start writing at all until university. I flirted with writing one or two opinion-based bits in my first year. I only showed them to family and friends, but I thought they were decent enough and enjoyed the whole writing thing. It came fairly naturally. Then I started looking into how I could be a journalist. I got in touch with the editor of FLUX Magazine and, rather than asking me to do work experience, which I’d expected, he told me to just write something. I did and he published it, and I was writing properly for magazines by the time my second year came around.

CS: What age did you start modelling seriously?

GJB: I was 21 when I kind of just fell into modelling, after doing an editorial internship at a style mag in London. I never took it that seriously, although I did move to London, working in a bar to pursue it. 

I didn’t smile much either, so I suppose I at least gave off the impression I was ‘serious’…

CS: You mentioned in your book that when it comes to the girl models, you can look but not touch. Is it the same rule with male models?

GJB: Hmm, the term ‘ten a penny’ springs to mind…

CS: Tell us about your new novel, “Made in Britain”…

GJB: Made in Britain’s about three sixteen year olds growing up in Provincial Britain, about wanting to escape and about how hope can often lead to despair. I’m a Northerner and wanted to write about growing up and not feeling like you belong somewhere. I suppose it’s a love-hate story between me and home too. I’m very proud of it, as well as where I’m from.

CS: Writing a novel obviously requires a lot of stamina: how long did it take you to write your first novel, and how did you get through it all? 

GJB: Both novels took between six and eight weeks to write, as first drafts. D&A wasn’t really edited at all, but there were several re-drafts before I even sent it to agents, then plenty of proof-reads and so on before it was properly finished. 

I got through it by committing to writing every day, over a period of weeks, until I got to the ending that I’d already written in my head. With D&A, I wrote it in two months – December 2007 to January 2008 – but it wasn’t finished finished until April 2009. Bear in mind that I’d been carrying the idea around in my head for eighteen months before actually sitting down to start it, though. 

That’s a good three years of my wasted youth for what amounted to a little over 50,000 words. Pathetic, I know.

CS: How do you feel after writing a novel? 

GJB: I feel a mixture of pride, relief and trepidation – like most writers, I imagine. 

Apologies for being so wanky, but it’s very cathartic, that release you get after committing yourself to the page. With Dazed & Aroused, I really needed to rid myself of Alex (the narrator), and that part of my personality that he represented. Oh dear. I’ve said too much…

CS: Is it hard to get taken seriously by the literary world, being young and coming out of the fashion industry? 

GJB: I intended D&A to be a very literary novel, about alienation in a post-postmodern society. It was always meant to be a very direct indictment of Capitalism, with very little in the way of plot. But it also ended up having a load of models in it. That’s seemed to trouble a few people…

CS: You’re presently adapting your debut novel into a screenplay – how have you found that process? 

GJB: It’s been fun, especially the collaborative aspect. (I’m writing it with a friend.) Writing a novel can be a lonely experience and, after finishing my second, I just wanted to do something that demanded another person’s input. The result’s far richer as a result, I reckon, and we’re both really excited about it.

CS: What’s harder: the writing or the selling?

GJB: That’s a no-brainer. Writing’s the easy part, but selling’s a full-time job. As a writer, you need to understand this from the start if you’re ever going to make a success of your work. It’s easy to become jaded by the relentless twittering and self-publicity, the blogs and the repeating yourself in interviews, but we’re all prostitutes really – especially artists.

My advice is, don’t bother. Become a banker instead. I hear the City’s recruiting again now…