Paul Burston was born in York, made in South Wales and now divides his time between London and Hastings.
His books include the critically-acclaimed novels ‘Shameless’ (shortlisted for the State of Britain Award 2001), ‘Star People’ (2005), ‘Lovers and Losers’ (shortlisted for the Stonewall Award 2007), The Gay Divorcee’ (2009) and the psychological thriller ‘The Black Path’ (2016, long listed for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize)
His new novel is the social media psychological thriller ‘The Closer I Get’, to be published on July 11, 2019 (May 11, ebook).
Paul Burston is also host of London’s award-winning LGBT literary salon, Polari, at the Southbank Centre, and founder of The Polari Book Prize for LGBT-themed work. For more info go to www.polarisalon.com
In March 2016 he was featured in the British Council’s FiveFilms4Freedom Global List, celebrating “visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world.”
Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?
It’s called The Closer I Get and it’s a psychological thriller about an online relationship between a male author and a female fan which spirals out of control – with disastrous consequences. I think anyone who’s familiar with social media will understand how intense some online relationships can be – and how quickly they can turn toxic. It’s also about the perils of the publishing world and the relationship between authors, bloggers and readers. It’s not a book I could have written ten or even five years ago. It’s very now.
If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?
All He Ever Wanted Was Everything.
I have what my mother calls “champagne tastes on a beer income.”
What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?
I have one fan who turns everything I post on Facebook into a sexual innuendo. She’s very fond of aubergine emojis. Of course I’m far too innocent to know what these things mean.
If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?
David Bowie. He never wrote his autobiography. I’d have loved to have co-written it. I’ve read every book ever written about him and I even met him once, but I never got to interview him. I really wish I had.
Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).
I have the original soundtrack album to Disney’s Jungle Book and can recite all the lyrics and much of the dialogue. If I was ever forced to do karaoke, my King Of The Swingers would knock them dead.
Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.
Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly.
She’s a brilliant writer who has the power to move, entertain and shock the reader – often on the same page. I think it’s her best book yet.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.
A dazzling crime debut with one of the most surprising twists I’ve read in a long time. When I tweeted about it he replied saying he once sent me a fan letter. But there was nothing strange about it! (See earlier question!)
Oh You Pretty Thing by VG Lee.
Lee’s second collection of short stories covers a wide range of topics and is full of her trademark wit and wisdom.
Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.
Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.
When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.
But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.
A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…