Featured Interview With Joss Sheldon
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was raised in suburbia; in a place which was neither near the beating heart of London city, nor near the tranquility of the countryside. A bit of a nonentity, really, known as Barnet. I tried living in the city. I loved London and Bristol for their gigs and theatres. But, in the end, I settled on living close to nature.
These days, I live in a forest, in a Bulgarian national park. My wife and I are trying to be self-sufficient. We’ve planted fruit trees and some veg, and we’re trying to raise chickens, ducks, bees and fish. But we’re not very good! We’re making lots of mistakes, but hopefully we’ll improve.
As for pets, we have one dog called Fatty, who isn’t that fat. He was a chubby little puppy when he first wandered into our house and demanded to be adopted, but he’s thinned out as he grown. We have a cat called Purry, who only purrs a little. He was a street cat who we adopted. And we have another cat called Mao Mao, who adopted us. She does meow a lot. She’s actually a boy, but she self-identifies as a girl. She even wears a pink collar.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I didn’t really enjoy reading that much as a youngster. It was something I was made to do, and I don’t really appreciate being made to do things. I value my freedom.
When I stopped studying English at school, a friend lent me a copy of a Clockwork Orange. That really opened my eyes. It was so different to the books that had been forced on me as a youngster, so raw, so rebellious. It even broke the rules; creating a new language, adding words an English teacher would never use. That encouraged me to read for myself.
When did I start writing?
At about aged four, I guess. That’s when a teacher forces a pen into your hand and makes you write. Ugh!
I became an author aged thirty, however, back in December 2012. I jacked in the day job, said “See ya later” to England, headed for the Indian Himalayas, and began to type. The rest, as they say, is history.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
David Graeber sadly passed away a couple of 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 a little about your latest book?
It’s blimming amazing and you should read it. You should get your mum and your gran and your gran’s weird friend to read it too. You know, the one with purple hair and the lazy eye. Hell! You should even get your dog to read. Why not?
Seriously, “DEMOCRACY: A User’s Guide” is pretty good, if I don’t say so myself.
It’s about democracy, but not as you know it. It takes a look at democracy throughout history, from the hunter-gatherers, to the Medieval Guilds and the Commons, right on through to modern developments like Liquid Democracy and Deliberative Democracy. Then it takes a look at democracy in education, the media, polices forces and armies. And then it takes a look at economic democracy.
It’s packed full with research, and also with anecdotes and stories. Yeah, it’s about a serious subject, but it’s written in a chatty, informal, accessible style. It’s super relevant; offering up practical, real world solutions to society’s problems. And readers seem to love it. The five-star reviews have been flying in from all angles.
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