Paul wrote short stories when he was in school, but always wanted to write a longer prose piece. At university, when he had some spare time, he wrote letters to radio and TV stations, and some of the producers got back to him.
“I loved learning about the process,” he says. “It’s good working with other people, and having their input. There hasn’t been a year when I haven’t written something for TV or radio shows since then. I also write for stand up comedians.”
Meanwhile, leaving university with a law degree, Paul decided not to practice, and for the next ten years he worked in various jobs; a shipping company, a bank, and retail in IT.
“I ended up in the Civil Service. I’m now in the Department of Communities.”
Paul wrote millions of words over the years, but says they were rubbish. Three years ago, getting a good idea, that changed.
“I love conspiracy theories, and knew the story I wanted to tell. I realised the easiest way to tell it was through a kid, and that’s when I knew I was writing a children’s book.”
The debut has also sold to Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan, in America.
Who is Paul Gamble.
Date of birth: 1975 in East Belfast.
Education: Grosvenor High: Queens University. Law Degree LLB.
Home: East Belfast, Bally Hackamore.
Family: Parents and a brother.
The Day Job: In the Department of Communities, working closely with arts and cultural institutions.
Interests: Good restaurants, films, music and theatre.
Favourite Writers: PG Wodehouse; Eoin Colfer; Derek Landy; Kurt Vonnegut; John Irving; Carson McCullers.
Second Novel: The Ministry of Suits 2. The Monster’s Daughter, coming out in America soon.
Top Tip: Read, then write, then read some more; then rewrite.
The Debut: The Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things. Little Island: €11.70.
12 year old Jack has a voracious curiosity. When, after a tussle with a bear, he is recruited to the Ministry of Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things, hidden beneath the Ulster Museum in Belfast, he decides to find out why all the school’s oddbods are disappearing. Then his best friend goes missing.
The Verdict: Brilliant! Featuring dinosaurs, pirates, and ancient monsters, this is a fun and zany children’s book, but it’s wise too.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 17th September, 2016.
© Sue Leonard. 2016