16 December: Paul Gamble

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Paul Gamble & his Christmas jumpers on 16th December!paul-gamble

Paul Gamble’s debut novel The Ministry of SUITs was published earlier this year.  He was born and brought up in Belfast. Paul currently works in the Department of Communities, working closely with arts and cultural institutions throughout Northern Ireland. Over the years Paul has written and worked on a number of local and national television and radio shows. He has also worked with a range of stand up comedians. Some of the most recent shows he has worked on have included BBC NI’s The Blame Game and Eureka!the Big Bang query for RTE. l.

Name three things on your Christmas list this year! Well if I could have anything I wanted? I’d love one of the new Mac Book Pros – but I refuse to buy a new one until my old computer dies and heads off to silicon heaven. I love P G Wodehouse’s books and I’d love a signed edition of one of the early ones featuring J4db6a0f025a812125ae576eb95726b13eeves. Unfortunately a lot of other people would like that as well, so they’re very expensive and I don’t think I’ve been good enough this year for Santa to give me one! (Frankly in order to get one I’d have to be the nicest person in the world all year and I’m not sure that it’s worth the effort. And I know it sounds silly, but for a third thing I’d just like to get to spend a bit of time with my friends and family over Christmas!

Christmas is a time of family traditions – what are your best (or worst!) family traditions? These days everyone seems to have a ‘Christmas Jumper’. Way back before that became popular I noticed in films people always seemed to have awful Christmas jumpers, although it never happened in real life. That year I decided to ask my mother to hand-knit me a festive jumper…and since that year I’ve got a new one every year, made by her industrious hands. When I started I was the only person doing it, but now everyone seems to have one. (Although I’m especially proud that mine are hand made. I’ve included photos of a few from the past decade or so!)

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(Do you think if we asked really nicely your Mum would knit one for us?!! They’re brilliant!)

What is your favourite story to read at Christmas? Well the classic answer is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It really is a brilliant, scary and heart warming stothe-muppet-christmas-carolry. For years people felt that it was a perfect story and couldn’t be improved.…and then the Muppets made a version of it – and they made it a little bit better. (I love Charles Dickens, but I have to say he didn’t have enough song and dance numbers in his books.)  So it isn’t a reading-story – but I’m answering ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’. (The Muppets improve everything, and the sooner they do the definitive version of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, the better. Just think about it, Hamlet’s very sad in the play, but a few dance numbers and a ventriloquist act with Yorick the skull would cheer him right up.)

(*tears of laughter*…)

If you could have Christmas dinner with anyone (alive today or person from history) who would it be? Another great question! I was thinking Shakespeare, Socrates, Isaac Newton. And then I realised that you don’t want to have very serious intellectual conversations over Christmas Dinner, so I think I’ll probably have to go for P G Wodehouse (see answer one!) because I think he’d be funny, interesting and delightful company.

Your book The Ministry of SUITs (which I loved!) has some wonderful, fantastical characters. How would you feature Santa Claus working at the Ministry of SUITs?! Funny you should ask… Book two in the series explains the business model that Santa Claus uses so that he can afford toys for everyone. Needless to say he knows the Tooth Fairy. Although I don’t want to tell you whether they get on with each other or not – I’m afraid you’ll just have to read the book!

FINAL COVER TO PRINT 27mm spine_Layout 1

You’ve created some fantastic characters in The Ministry of SUITs.  What would some of their New Year’s resolutions be and why? Well as you know, Jack’s curiosity is always getting him in trouble so he’d probably make a resolution to try and avoid investigating potentially lethal situations. Trudy would probably make a resolution to stop punching Jack in the arm. Naturally neither of them would make it past the evening of New Years Day.

winter-1027822_1920Reader’s question from children at the Inkpots Writers’ Hut: when did you start writing? Did you go to anything like the Writers’ Hut (a creative writing club for kids)? I started writing when I was at school and I’ve never really stopped. I’ve given everything a go in my time, poetry, radio shows, televisions, jokes for stand up comedians and now The Ministry of SUITs.I never went to a writing club, but I think they’re a brilliant idea. I wrote tens of thousands of words before I came up with The Ministry of SUITs. If I’d had a few people around me to give me some advice, I might have got it done a lot sooner. As it was I had to wait until I found my brilliant agent Gemma Cooper before I got that assistance!

Turkey or goose? Turkey.

Real or fake tree? Fake, I like the idea of real. But it comes with a lot of hoovering and I’m not prepared to make that commitment. Come to think of it tinsel involves a fair amount of hoovering as well.  So maybe I’ll ban tinsel as well this year.  (I do insist on real tinsel though. But I make sure that it’s real tinsel that is grown on sustainable tinsel farms.)

Mince pies or Christmas pudding? Christmas pudding. Although I think it’s unfair that you’re making me choose. How about a Mince pie that’s coated in Christmas pudding. (If any of you steal this idea and sell it to Tesco and make a fortune, I’m expecting 10% of the profits – or at the very least you could buy me one of the items from question 1 – see above.)

Stockings –  end of the bed or over the fireplace?  End of the bed, socks can smell unpleasant at the best of times, warming them up just means that the pong can spread further…

Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve? New Years Eve, although I don’t actually go out! I always reserve that day of the year to have a quiet night in by myself reading a book that I’ve specially selected and saved up all year for a treat. This year I’ve saved Books 4 and 5 of Leonard Wibberly’s “Mouse that Roared” series….really looking forward to them.

Thank you for your brilliant festive answers! Have a Merry Christmas!

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For more information about Paul visit www.littleisland.ie.  For a review of The Ministry of SUITs visit the Bookshelf.

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