A short but sweet interview with Giles Paley-Phillips – author, podcaster, musician, huge-hearted Twitterer, and all-round good gent.
Gentle reader: If you had to think of life’s truly good people, who would be on your list? It is my honour to be able to share here an interview with one person that would certainly make my list.
Giles Paley-Phillips is something of a renaissance man. I first became aware of him through his wonderful Twitter presence. I quickly learned that he is a gent of many talents.
He is the author of a host of children’s books. Alongside comedian Jim Daly, Giles is the co-host of the rather wonderful Blank Podcast. If you want a good episode of Blank with which to start, their chat with Mark Gatiss is a particular favourite). episode a particular favourite. He is also plays guitar in Burnthouse.
Giles’ next book, One Hundred and Fifty-Two Days, due to be published in March 2020, is his first for an older audience. He describes it as “a unique semi-autobiographical novella written in verse that looks at the impact on a teenager whose mother is terminally ill.” You can watch a short video of Giles reading from this book.
Whatever the medium, Giles’ output has kindness at its core. It shines through in this short interview. It shines through in his constant flow of tweets (please do consider following Giles on Twitter, if you don’t already). It shines through in each episode of the Blank Podcast.
May Giles’ words here spread a little light into your day. May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.
Giles Paley-Phillips interview
MC: The Blank Podcast focuses on life’s blank moments. What moment in your life has felt furthest from a blank moment? In other words, when have you felt most focused and engaged, most certain that you are doing what you are meant to be doing?
GP-P: Obviously, there are moments in my personal life, meeting my wife, birth of my children. But I’m not sure I’ve felt that in a work way, always looking for the next thing to work on, never want to stand still.
MC: I first became aware of you through your lovely, prolific and uplifting tweets. What is the single most wonderful thing to happen to you as a direct result of being on Twitter?
GP-P: There are so many. Just being able to connect with so many amazing people on a daily basis. It’s been nice to try and spread a little light on the platform in my own small way.
MC: The Blank Podcast is off to a great start, with a fine selection of guests and nomination for Best Arts and Culture Podcast in the 2019 British Podcast Awards.* What have been the most challenging aspects of doing a podcast? And the most enjoyable?
GP-P: I guess the most challenging aspect is getting people to listen. So many great shows out there and always hard to stand out from the crowd. But I can’t complain. It’s an amazing experience and if just a handful of people listen that is still incredible.
MC: Writing, music, podcasting. Is one of these media more effective than the others in helping you express exactly what you want to say? Which is your favourite?
GP-P: Podcasts are great to convey how we are literally feeling that day. Being able to discuss creativity with others is always inspiring and helpful. But I feel truly lucky that I am able to express myself in so many mediums, it really is a privilege.
MC: A few weeks ago, you put out an inspiring mini-autobiography in a single tweet:
“12 years ago I was made redundant, just after our first child was born, with no qualifications & no idea what to do with my life, I had two dreams, one was to write a book & the other was to make a podcast! This week saw episode 20 of @Blankpod released.”
What advice would you offer to anyone who finds themselves in the same situation as you did a dozen years back? What advice would you like to give to the you of 12 years ago?
GP-P: Keep on keeping on. It’s a total cliché, but if you believe in what you’re doing and you enjoy it, you’ve got to put some energy into it and keep dreaming.
MC: What is the most important thing that you have learnt about the art of writing books for children?
GP-P: Pacing is so key, getting the page turns at the right moments is really important in a picture book.
MC: What is your favourite Nirvana song? Did you ever get to see them live? (Just wondering if we might have been at some of the same gigs!)
GP-P: I never got to see them live, but Kurt Cobain pretty much woke me up to alternative music and the desire to start writing songs. A favourite is difficult as there are so many incredible songs. But if i had to choose one which is delicate and brutal in equal measure it would be Heart-Shaped Box.
MC: What single thought would you like to put into the minds of anyone reading this to help them through today?
GP-P: Be kind.
Nice one Michael. Good questions to elicit interesting answers.