About Joss Sheldon:
Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, unchained free-thinker, and post-modernist radical. Born in 1982, he was brought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London's beating heart. Then he escaped!
With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.
Then, in 2013, he stumbled upon McLeod Ganj; an Indian village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there that Sheldon wrote his debut novel, 'Involution & Evolution'.
With several positive reviews to his name, Sheldon had caught the writing bug. He visited Palestine and Kurdistan, to research his second novel, 'Occupied'; a masterpiece unlike anything you've ever read.
But it was with his third novel, 'The Little Voice', that Sheldon really hit the big time; topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and gaining widespread critical acclaim.
In 2017, he wrote 'Money Power Love'; a love story that charts the rise of the British Empire, and the way in which bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.
A year later, he released what is arguably his greatest story to date, 'INDIVIDUTOPIA: A novel set in a neoliberal dystopia'. Fans of 1984 will love this fast-paced classic, set in a world in which corporations rule supreme.
Now Sheldon has returned with his first work of non-fiction. 'DEMOCRACY: A User's Guide', combines his conversational tone with a series of entertaining anecdotes and thought-provoking ideas; asking what can be done to make our political systems, economies, schools, media, police forces and armies that bit more democratic.
What inspires you to write?
The world is pretty messed up, right? It has been for a while, and it sometimes feels as though there is very little we can do about it.
Well, writing is my way of "Doing something about it". Of speaking up and speaking out…
I jacked in the day job, back in December 2012.
I was getting really peeved with the militarisation of Britain, which was going the way of America – glorifying soldiers, calling them “Heroes” and saying we should be “Grateful” for their bombing of innocent people in far-off lands.
Even the football club for whom I was working was getting involved, putting the pro-solder red poppy on their shirts every November. I felt I had to do something, anything, to scream out against the madness.
So I went to India, where I could live frugally and write full time. And I began to write my first novel, “Involution & Evolution”, which is about a conscientious objector in World War One. It paints him as the hero, the brave one, standing for peace, not participating in war.
That book put me in a genre: Political fiction. Apart from my most recent book, which is non-fiction, it is a genre I have stuck to. Although I have added in some dystopia, with “Occupied’ and “Individutopia”, and some magical realism with “Money Power Love”.
I've written about occupations (of Palestine, Kurdistan and Tibet). I've written about the way we are cajoled to conform, and the way we are cajoled to be individualistic. I've written about imperialism, war and bankers. These things all need to be stopped, and writing is my way of stopping them.
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
David Graeber sadly passed away a few days ago. I can't believe that. It's so sad. The guy was an utter legend, and a true inspiration. His book, "Debt", inspired me to write Money Power Love. "Bullshit Jobs" inspired the third section of Occupied and all of Individutopia. I quote the guy regularly in "DEMOCRACY: A User's Guide".
George Orwell and Salman Rushdie are also big inspirations. They're like the kings of political fiction, aren't they?
Gabriel García Márquez's style, in "Love in a Time of Cholera", really helped me to write Money Power Love. I re-read some Kafka and "A Brave New World" before writing "Individutopia". And I had fun putting in Shakespearean insults into my first book, "Involution & Evolution". That guy sure did have a way with words!
I love reading stuff by Naomi Klein, Owen Jones, Paulo Coelho, Milan Kundera, Ha-Joon Chang, Dan Ariely – to name just a few of the greats.
Tell us about your writing process.
I wake, up, have a coffee, and begin to type. When I feel burnt out, I stop writing and have lunch.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Oh yeah, all the time.
Sometimes they talk back.
For me, this is a good thing. But when my wife sees me doing this, she think I am talking to myself, and then she starts to worry.
What advice would you give other writers?
Follow your heart, write want you want to write, and don't expect to sell a single copy.
Or write the sort of stuff you know sells, in the same style as other authors, and you might just sell a few copies. But even then, don't expect to sell a single copy.
The key is to promote, promote, promote.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I print my main, English editions myself. I use KDP to publish on Amazon, IngramSpark to publish on other sites, BabelCube for some foreign translations, and ACX for audiobooks.
I like that this leaves me in control. I can write what I want, how I want, when I want – all without anyone else pulling my strings. I like that freedom.
Of course, sometimes publishers do get in touch, and we often come to an agreement. Tantor Media publish the audiobook version of "The Little Voice". Heretic Press publish the Turkish version of that book. I'm in talks with an Indonesian publisher, to launch "Individutopia" over there.
Such deals give you a nice little advance, in return for a boost in a new market, so they are always welcome too.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
People will continue to write and publish their books. Other people will continue to read them. Perhaps they'll pay, which will be nice for writers. But, then again, hopefully we'll all have some sort of Universal Basic Income, and so we will not have to rely on book sales to make a living.
In an ideal world, anyone and everyone would be able to access and read our work for free. It doesn't really cost anything to produce an ebook, they can be shared across the globe with a click of a button, and information does want to be free.
This is a subject I cover in "DEMOCRACY: A User's Guide". Inspired by Jeremy Rifkin's book, "The Zero Marginal Cost Society", the idea is that we will all have free renewable energy, we will all print the objects we need on 3D printers at home, and we will all share information for free online. Everything will be free. We will live without money, without being controlled by the plutocrats who have more money than everyone else, or by the bankers who create it out of thin air.
That sounds good to me!
What genres do you write?: Political Fiction, Dystopian, Literary Fiction, Magical Realism, Epic Poem, Psychological, Historical Fiction, Politics, History, Anthropology, Economics.
What formats are your books in?: eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print, Audiobook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.