Johnny Nothing-Ian Probert

Johnny Nothing Author, Ian Probert
Johnny Nothing Author, Ian Probert

I have had the pleasure of making a new friend in the form of UK author, Ian Probert. He has recently published his latest book, Johnny Nothing, a rollicking, enthralling book for ages ten and up (mind you, my eight year old daughter absolutely loved it, and was doubled over from laughing in parts)! It is reminiscent of Roald Dahl, and about the poorest boy in the world, who has the nastiest mother in the universe. It is available on ITunes and Amazon. When did you make the decision to become a writer? “I never really decided to be a writer as such. It was a gradual process. At school I was good at Art and English. I used to fill up exercise books with stories about vampires. It must have driven my English teacher to drink. I come from a working class family and becoming a writer was never really an option. After failing most of my exams at school I went from one dead-end job to another. I was a draughtsman, a waiter, a landscape gardener. I worked in  KFC, in motorway service stations, telephone sales, in clothes shops. I was pretty aimless until I managed to get into art college to study painting.It was there that I started keeping a diary and discovered that I could write reasonably legibly. After art college, I managed to blag my way into a job at a newspaper. Somehow, they employed me as a sports writer. After that, I actually ended up editing sports magazines. My articles got longer and longer until it occurred to me that I ought to try my hand at writing books. I was very lucky. I got an agent almost instantly. A publishing deal followed soon after. I was rather blasé about it. In retrospect I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. As you know, it’s very difficult to get an agent to even look at anything you’ve written, and its even harder to get a traditional publishing deal.” Where did the inspiration for Johnny Nothing come from? “It’s a long story, the tale behind its birth. Basically, I was ill for almost 15 years without being really aware of it. I had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It’s not exactly an uncommon condition, but can have catastrophic consequences for your life. I did this article for the Guardian on the illness. The end result of this was that I lost my ability to concentrate. I didn’t have anything published for more than a decade. I tried writing things, of course, but would always give up after a chapter or two. I thought I was getting old or something! When I was diagnosed and given drugs to combat the condition, I got the proverbial burst of energy. I wrote a lot of things very quickly indeed. Johnny Nothing was written for my ten-year old daughter. I think it was to prove to her that I could actually write. For years she had been hearing me drone on about how I used to be a published writer. I wanted to give her something that would make her proud of me.” What are you planning next? “I always think it’s a little reckless to tell people what you’re writing. The problem is that one can be really excited about a new project and bore family and friends to death talking about it. Later, when you’ve decided that the idea was actually pretty crappy, you then get people asking you how its going and you look a complete fool. These days I only tell what I’m doing to people whose job it is to know such information. That would be agents and publishers. Over the years I’ve never learned to show anything I’ve written to people until it’s actually on the bookshelves, or nowadays, on Kindle. There’s nothing worse than a friend telling you that they’ve written a book and asking, ‘can you read it and tell me what you think?'” Ian has produced a masterful story, full of darkness, hilarity and light. The hero will have you cheering as Johnny Nothing ends up being everything.

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