Red Button Publishing

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Questions that writers dread #1: ‘So, what is your book about?’

We’re welcoming Johnny Rich, author of The Human Script to the Red Button blog today to share his thoughts on one of those questions that writers dread. Over to you, Johnny.

Maybe other writers feel differently, but of all the questions that people ask when they know you’ve written a novel, the queasiest question for me, the one that makes me feel like a five-year who’s been asked to explain quantum mechanics, is, what’s your book about?

I’m always reminded of Samuel Beckett’s answer whenever he was asked, “So, who is Godot?” He would sigh patiently and explain that the play he had written was the shortest possible answer to that question. If he could have explained it more briefly, he wouldn’t have written the play as he did.


So, of all the kind reviews The Human Script has received, the one that made me most grateful was one that described my novel as a “philosophical thriller”. Aha, I thought, so that’s what it is.

This also helps me with another of those common quake-quarrying questions, where did you get the idea? The idea for the book came from the ideas in the book.

I had some debates I wanted to argue out – about nature and nurture, about art and science, about sexuality and literature. You know, the big stuff.

There are many ways I could have done this, but, since Socratic dialogues seem to have gone out of fashion over the last couple of millennia, I needed to find a compelling narrative, a human story to show that these musings aren’t just intellectual distractions. As we play them out with characters who hope, who love, who suffer, the philosophical questions begin to come alive and the reader has something at stake in wanting to find answers.

So, when people tell me my book made them cry, it makes me very pleased. I’m not normally he kind of person that enjoys someone else’s misery, but in this case, it means that, for that person, I’ve managed to get ideas across in a way that will keep them thinking long after they’ve turned the last page.

As Maya Angelou said, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Johnny Rich

You can find links to buy The Human Script by Johnny Rich here  

The Human Script



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