This week I’m interviewing former broadcaster Gethyn Jones who is also now a songwriter, producer and author. I was fortunate enough to read his debut novel “Fatal Equation” & listen to the accompanying EP of original songs by Gethyn performed by the band mentioned in his book, Coolstar. This is a book of two halves – you have the romantic drama and trials of an age gap relationship; and you have the music and the DJ life. It all cleverly intertwines and has enough drama to keep you on your toes!
At the age of 16, his domineering father cruelly exiled Ali Kurmi to the south coast in order to protect the family name. Now in his thirties, he’s forced to work as an unofficial bailiff for his father’s property company, a job he detests. The only thing keeping him going is songwriting and DJ- ing. Ali invests all his cash in a plan to break into the notoriously unwelcoming music business. His off- beat passion for 70s and 80s music leads him into DJ work on the corporate events circuit, where he meets and is smitten with, a beautiful, older woman. Laura O’Brien recently inherited a fortune after the tragic death of her husband Frank, the internationally acclaimed Irish racehorse breeder. Determined to avoid returning to the bottle, she’s left Tipperary to start afresh in Hampshire – with plans to put her new-found wealth to good use. This unlikely couple’s happiness, and their plans to launch Ali’s music career, are soon imperiled when Ali finds himself being blackmailed by his own father – and innocently falling foul of a drugs cartel. Trouble’s brewing for Laura too, not least her unhinged and dangerous step-daughter, hell- bent on revenge.
Hi Gethyn and welcome….
Hi. I’m Gethyn Jones. I’m a musician, composer, author, web designer and for twenty five years I was a radio presenter with the BBC and Independent Local Radio. I laterhelped to set up a community TV station where I was News Editor/Head of Programmes and at one time I also taught senior military servicemen how to handle TV and radio interviews. Bit of a mixture isn’t it!
Who or what inspired you to write your debut novel, Fatal Equation?
It started with a song called Fatal Equation! After a very long break from writing music I took it up again and before I knew it I had 18 professionally mastered tracks. Whilst it’s easy releasing tracks on Spotify, anyone can release a record nowadays – the trouble is, they do! It’s alleged that 60,000 tracks get uploaded to that platform every single day. Consequence? Most never see the light of day. So what to do with all those songs of mine? Enter an experienced actor friend who suggested setting the songs into the context of a story – with a view to a possible TV drama series. The outcome of nearly four years work is: the Fatal Equation Book and three companion EPs of music featured in the storyline performed by the band Coolstar. There’s also the TV drama treatment waiting for when Netflix comes knocking (I wish).
I enjoyed the unravelling drama and romance of the age gap relationship between Laura and Ali ; the spitefulness of Laura’s stepchildren; the previous relationships/baggage of both Laura and Ali ; Ali’s family; and Ali’s budding music career. There were quite a few threads in the novel that seemed to gel well together. Were there any aspects of writing your book that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?
Hands up – this is my first novel and whilst I have a lot of professional experience in writing, creating a novel was an awesome prospect. The very thought of embarking on the project terrified me. What came as a total surprise to me was how I ended up completely loving the experience. I’m very familiar with songwriting and how it can take you away from reality when you’re immersed in it. To my delight, writing this book had the same magical effect. I went somewhere else and not wishing to sound corny, the book kind-of wrote itself. I still don’t know where creative inspiration comes from – it’s ethereal, magic and addictive.
My favourite character was Laura – I liked her fondness for Ali and her strengthening love for him and their relationship despite a lot of setbacks. Which character did you find easiest to write? Hardest? Any personal favourites?
There’s a substantial amount of me in Ali Kurmi – I’ve always hankered for a place in the music business – so creating Ali’s character was a job half done. It was also really interesting exploring the other side of his persona: a troubled and traumatic childhood, a domineering almost abusive father, forced into a violent job he loathed – and the rest. But these negatives are ultimately outweighed by positives – as his survival instinct and determination to see his dreams through, kick in. I also love the idea that falling for Laura completely blind-sided him and turned his life around.
You are also a songwriter and a former radio broadcaster, so it should be no surprise that you have a companion EP of 6 original songs written by yourself and performed by Coolstar, the outfit mentioned in the book. So what came first, the book or the album? Why did you decide to have a companion EP?
I see Fatal Equation as a trilogy – an album of songs, a novel and a potential TV drama. In my head, the three go together. So we’ll see how that pans out. However, the project is driven by the music – that came first. Ali Kurmi is like me – he writes songs that vary in style dramatically. Heavy Rock, Country, Classical, Dance, Brass Funk and simple Abba-esque pop. All sung by different singers. 12 tracks out of 18 are already out there on two EPs. They’re all performed by the band Coolstar and varioussingers. The EPs are called Fatal Equation Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Both are streaming and available for download in the usual places. Coolstar exists as fiction in the novel – and in reality too. Read the book – check out the tunes.
Have you always wanted to have a career in music or as an author or did you have other aspirations?
I’ve always wanted to create music – but I’m not so sure about a career as that’s probably a little late in the day for me. Back in the day when I was working in radio I also belonged to JUGG MUSIC who wrote and produced music for TV shows duringthe 70s and 80s – RUNAROUND the kids quiz show is probably the best-known. That was very satisfying. But I have to say that what I’m doing now is giving me the biggest thrill so far. I’ve managed to create a project I’m deeply proud of and I hope to make the most of it. The Fatal Equation story has more to give and a second book is not out of the question!
Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?
I always have a book on the go – be it Kindle or physical. My reading is like my music – catholic with a small ‘c’. Anything goes. I love Lee Child, Stephen King, John Grisham, Erin Kelly, Sarah Winman, TM Logan, Mathew Hall, Stephen Fry and many more I can’t remember. Most of my reading is done in bed so my progress can be slow!
Is “Fatal Equation” available to purchase worldwide?
Yes it is. It’s available as an eBook or paperback at Amazon and the companion CDs by Coolstar are available to buy or stream – at the usual places.
Hypothetically speaking, if you could visit any place in the world to base your next novel in, where would you go and why?
I’ve visited Australia once – my wife has relatives there – and it was fabulous. A few days in the Blue Mountains was an unworldly experience and one I’ll never forget. So down under, it could be.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Straight jeans (occasional chinos and, mainly for weddings and funerals, non-double-breasted/non-waistcoat/very dark blue, black or charcoal suits); layered tee shirts, shirts, pure wool sweaters, and fleeces; leather loafers; gym trainers; ‘posh’ leather trainers for socialising. For studio sessions and client meetings: always have a large leather messenger bag over my shoulder.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
For clothes: often, M&S – their menswear is (by and large) good-quality and their post-purchase customer service is no-nonsense and stress-free to navigate.
I used to use John Lewis for the same reasons; however, they seem to have fallen behind in reliability and customer service, which is a shame because my wife and I enjoy visiting their stores to see the goods first-hand, then buying online and clicking and collecting from our local Waitrose.
My wife often sources the most wonderful velvet blazers in a variety of colours from White Stuff – nearer the festive season, their website has wonderful choices.
For shoes: again, often M&S – not least because they cater for half sizes. I like some Kurt Geiger styles but they don’t seem to encompass half-size preferences. Shame. I also like Clarks nowadays. They used to be very old-fashioned but they have come on leaps and bounds. AND, they cater for half sizes. If I had one wish, it would be for them to focus more on genuine leather you can actually polish, rather than suede/nubuck finishes.
My ‘best’ trainers have proved to be Bugatti tan leather. They always receive oohs and aahs when I wear them. A sound investment.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I hunt for clothes items that have clever ‘finishes’ – small details that set them aside from the high-street norms. It can be a classy button-down shirt collar; a different shade of sewing machine cotton; a fun lining to a jacket … often, this is a clever tool used by White Stuff. The difference is in the smallest details.
For shoes, I hunt down good-quality, polish-friendly leather. I hang on to my shoes for years. I choose classic styles that don’t date, so I get longevity of wear. It makes sense ecologically. Choosing faux leather isn’t all it’s made out to be – the footwear just wears out prematurely, requiring more shoe turnover. I’d rather invest in footwear that you don’t have to bin prematurely.
Boots or Shoes?
Shoes – every time. As a teenager, it was all about boots, and I certainly followed the crowd. But the fact is, boots are generally less comfortable and can also end up being frustratingly air-circulation-deprived (!) I plump for shoes nowadays and am very happy with that choice.
EPs – Coolstar (Spotify)
Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed, Gethyn, and I love your shoe enthusiasm too! I thought your debut novel was superb, as well as your music and I look forward to seeing the book made into a film! Thank you also for you the copy of your book for reviewing – my views are 100% my own. Thanks also to Cameron Publicity.
All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Gethyn Jones; apart from the Pinterest photo, the header & the gramophone pic which were taken by me (Linda Hobden)