Many months ago, I learned of a book (and film) called Paramedico written by Mr. Benjamin Gilmour. My thoughts were, “Cool – sounds like a book I’d like to read” and then immediately filed the thought under ‘maybe someday, if I’m lucky’… Forward several months…. I’m at my local library looking at a variety of Public Safety related books and to what do my eyes appear? It took me all of a nano-second to grab that puppy…err… book up. Ok, it’s not the same as actually owning my own copy — but hey, I’ll take what I can get; And there’s still that “some day” 😉
While the way in which Mr. Gilmour (no, not that Gilmour – Mr. Benjamin Gilmour (“Benja” if your Dr. Aquarius – you’ll have to read the book) is in itself entertaining it is also a glimpse into the differences in ambulance services around the world.
Mr. Gilmour was kind of enough to agree to answer a few questions about his writing journey…. So let’s get started, shall we?
Tell the readers when it was that you first know you wanted to be a writer and why? What, or what events, decided this journey for you?
Hard to know the precise origins of an urge for sure, but I had various school teachers who inspired me and got me into the habit of writing. My parents and their religious nightly reading sessions with us had plenty to do with my interest in story-telling. I actually started off on the slam-poetry circuit in Sydney and Newcastle (just north of Sydney) in the late nineties. I think this helped me improve the craft of language and set-up my future in prose, allowing me to write musically, if you know what I mean. Readers might not realize why they like reading what they read, but I think music in the writing, a certain imperceptible rhythm, works its magic on a reader and makes the difference between a book you can put down and a book you can’t.
What Inspires your writing?
Human stories. Truth is stranger than fiction. I really believe that, especially after nearly 20 years as a full time paramedic.
What do you like to do while you are writing to help you write (other than writing)?
Take time out in the sun, beach, surf, swim. While writers are so often depicted as pasty white loners sitting at type-writers indoors, that is not me. The effect of the sun on my brain is essential to my writing. It makes my mind buzz.
Do you have a favorite beverage to drink while writing?
I would love to be that writer who takes a whisky or gin while at it. I love both. But after one glass of either, my writing becomes complete nonsense and sometimes utter gibberish. So I stick with Earl Grey Tea. Yeah, boring. But at least Earl Grey has the same hint of bergamot that gin has…..
What advice would you give to those who think they might want to be a writer? And also to those who already know and have just started out on the journey of writing?
It is extremely rare to be able to make a living off writing, unless you’e making your money off writing for newspapers, online content or magazines and so on. I have a few journalist mates who write books, but it’s their journalism that allows them to do it because only that really pays. Times are pretty bad for writers when it comes to money as book advances are worth so little nowadays. So, as your Daddy might have said, ‘get a real job!’ and that will take the pressure off you to feed a family from your next novel sales. Moreover, if you can use your ‘real job’ as a means of collecting inspiration, all the better. Hence my chosen career as a paramedic. I see life at its most intense and have plenty of material. My advice to aspiring writers is to keep a little note book in which to record all manner of snippets of life, things you’ve heard, read, experienced, conversations, observations and so on. It all adds up and will help you later when you’re stuck for material.
Tell us a little bit about the very first book you wrote (or remember writing). Briefly, what was it about and why/what made you decide to write it?
My first book was a collection of poetry. But my first prose book was a memoir about making a film while living among the tribes of Pakistan’s frontier region. I hung out with these scary looking bearded turban-wearing guys who were actually the nicest, most generous and kindest people you could ever come across and I realized then I would always have to be wary of how people are depicted in the news, on TV and so on. My crazy experiences living in this region along the Afghan border, taking tea with Taliban and so on, was very book-worthy and eventuated in ‘Warrior Poets’ which has sold out. Although you can still find copies available on eBay and second-hand on Amazon if you’re lucky.
Tell us about the latest book you wrote. Briefly, what was it about and why/what made you decide to write it. Also what makes this book different, in your mind, than your first book.
Paramedico: Around the World by Ambulance pretty much speaks for itself. Its my adventures riding ambulances in ten different nations, from Venice to Mexico via Iceland and Macedonia. There are wild times in here. My wife and I were nearly bowled over by the 2004 Tsunami in asia, and I narrowly missed being blown up by a suicide bomber in Pakistan. There are chapters that read like an Ian Flemming James Bond novel. But that is my life at times, honestly. Although Paramedico is different than Warrior Poets because it concentrates on ambulances paramedics in crazy places, it is not so different in that it is still about inviting the reader to join my on my madcap adventures and share these wild times with me, the writer.
Any new or upcoming books in the works? Briefly, what is it about and why/what made you decide to write it. Also what makes this book different, in your mind.
I am hoping my next book, about being a paramedic in Sydney, will be coming out soon.
Anything else you want to add that I didn’t ask about?
Where can people connect with you?
Author’s blog www.benjamingilmour.com