M: I'm interviewing Author Julian Gold, about his book ‘Life Is Simple‘.
Hi Julian. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day for this interview. Tell me about yourself.
J: Well I’m forty-something going on fourteen. I was born in Edinburgh but consider myself an honorary Englishman now, having lived south of the border for longer than in Scotland. I studied Astronomy at University, but through a bit of a random walk through career paths ended up writing video games and, more recently, other computer software. I’ve got a lot of diverse interests though: I play drums and write music (prog rock / metal); I also do laser shows for a Pink Floyd tribute band. I have one wife, two kids, and no gods. And I like puns, especially bad ones.
M: When did it really dawn on you that you’re an author. Was is a specific thought or experience? How did it affect you?
J: I don’t think of myself as an author per se. I write down what I think is worth preserving, and when I have a light-bulb moment I organize that writing into coherent material. More like a shepherd of words. I do have a passion for expressing difficult ideas in ways that other people can comprehend, and agree muchly with the idea that if you can’t explain something simply to someone else, you probably don’t understand it. The human endeavour is all about ideas, after all. If we can’t communicate ideas to anyone else except experts then we’re in a bit of trouble. Which we are, of course.
M: What prompted you to write this particular book? Was there a 'moment' that the plot came to you, or did you think on it for a while? Or you had a dream, perhaps?
J: A few decades back, I briefly dabbled in a culty organization that took a lot of my cash whilst making sit in a room with lots of other people and exploiting my resulting headaches. It wasn’t all bad though: the central lesson being expounded was basically the core of what psychologists refer to as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. It was a simple model of what brains did, and it struck me that it was not so different from what science does. Could it be that science and so-called “spirituality” had more in common than was commonly portrayed? Well yes, as it turned out. Religion – and I include the New Age and Post-Modernism in that bucket – has tried to own spirituality and morality, but the trouble is that by associating those with hocus-pocus, they have rather denigrated them. This makes me angry on a number of levels! ‘Life Is Simple’ is a distillation of my experiences in a number of fields which I’ve studied or worked in, fuelled by a strong desire to use my anger to right some wrongs which have stood for far too long.
M: I’d like to find out about what's happened since you began writing. Is there an experience you’ve had since publishing your books that sticks in your mind perhaps a person or place that you’ll never forget that you only got to experience because of your decision to write?
J: Not really, no! Boring answer, but a truthful one. This modern age means we can go from idea to final copy without getting up off the sofa. Which is great in a way because I have a nice sofa.
M: Who is your greatest inspiration, who’s your greatest supporter, and do you have a mentor?
J: Inspirations – the late Carl Sagan; David Beckham (I like the way he dealt with adversity); Oscar Wilde (too many great quotes to single out); Florence Nightingale (where would the world be without pie charts?);Socrates – who taught people to think rationally for themselves.
M: How do your life’s experiences carry over into your writing?
J: Lots! I had a tough childhood, and it incubated a strong sense of justice and truthfulness in me. If ‘Life Is Simple’ is about anything, it is about truthfulness, and how it empowers us. However: it would have been impossible to write without a deep understanding of science, maths and computing – as well as philosophy (which I did as a module whilst at university) and also my religious upbringing. I was born into a poor, liberal Jewish household – an interesting combination. It led to what is often referred to as “Pick’n’Mix” religion, where the palatable elements of a faith or culture are selected whilst the less appealing ones are rejected. That seemed bizarre to me, even as a child! Also the attempts by the Jewish community to indoctrinate me by teaching me to recite Hebrew without comprehending its meaning just did not wash with me. As I said, it is ideas that make Humanity special – this was hiding bad ideas, anachronisms, behind ritual. That does nothing for us in the 21st Century. So you can see how my life might have led up to writing ‘Life is Simple’.
M: Would you like to leave the readers with a message from you today?
J: Question everything. Even the stuff I write. If you find yourself with a desire not to question something, or discomfort when trying to, question it even more. When you take nothing for granted, everything in life becomes more important, more meaningful, and more honest.
Please share with me any links to your website, blog, video, twitter, or any others ways you connect with your fans, so they can find and follow you?
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M: Thank you for sharing your time with me here today, Julian. I'd love to interview you again for your next book. Are you up for it?