INTERVIEW: PAUL A. MENDELSON


Paul A Mendelson is a writer best known for TV and radio work, including Bafta-nominated BBC series May to December, ITV film Losing It and Dreamworks/Fox animation Neighbors from Hell. You can follow him on Twitter @paulmendelson65


The Art of Listening is out now

Tell us about your new book.
It’s called The Art of Listening and other ‘inspired’ fictions and is a collection of novellas and short stories inspired by events that have happened to me or of which I’ve heard.  
They’re mostly humorous in tone – indeed some readers have called them ‘laugh out loud funny’ – but hopefully also moving, intriguing and surprising. With often unexpected denouements. 

You’ve done a lot of writing for TV and radio. How did you find the transition to novels and short fiction?
I loved it. Suddenly you’re in complete control. And once you’ve completed a novel, it exists. Like say a painting or a sculpture. Scripts are only blueprints until a talented. team is involved and a large amount of money is invested. 

But it’s also daunting because the responsibility is all on you – all 80000 plus words of it! A responsibility to engage and hold and hopefully move and entertain the reader, tapping into their own imaginations. 

What has been the highlight of your writing career?
I think creating and writing my first series for the BBC May to December was a huge turning point for me. I had been an advertising copywriter for many years and this was my big opportunity to find my voice. 

Similarly my first TV drama Losing It with Martin Clunes, an autobiographical play about an adman who gets testicular cancer was a big ITV hit and hugely important for me. 

And of course my first novel, In the Matter of Isabel (2017), inspired by a case I handled as a very young lawyer, was a massive change of direction. Especially as it was immediately bought by Hollywood and I was commissioned to write the screenplay. 

What do you think is the most difficult aspect of writing?
Once I know what I’m doing and have found my voice, I find writing a joy. Hard work but rewarding. To be honest the most difficult aspect for me has always been the selling. To producers, broadcasters, agents, publishers and of course the public. 

Is there a particular author who has inspired you?
I love Nick Hornby for his warmth and wit and Anne Tyler for her sheer genius in making a small canvas represent all the emotions in the world. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t get it right, get it written!

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