World of Words: How a magazine submission led to a best-selling work...

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Malcolm Welshman, pictured, is a retired vet and author. He was the vet for My Weekly for 15 years, writing a series of monthly anecdotal tales based on his experiences. His first novel, Pets in a Pickle, was published in May, 2011, by John Blake Publishers, and the e-book version reached number two on Amazon’s Kindle best-seller list.

The sequel, Pets on Parade, was published in April, 2012, and the third, Pets Aplenty, is due for publication later this year.

Malcolm has contributed many features to magazines such as Cats’ World, Parrots’ Magazine, Somerset Life and Sussex Life, and has written articles for the Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

He has given more than 24 radio interviews about his life with animals, is a regular panelist on Radio Somerset and an international guest speaker on cruise ships.

In no more than 10 words, why do you write?

It helps to keep the little grey cells working.

How do your experiences as a vet inspire you to write?

Dealing with animals has meant there are many ‘tails’ begging to be told.

How did you first come to be published?

I sent in a feature to My Weekly about a goose that was to be fattened up for Christmas. It was accepted and led to me being the magazine’s vet for 15 years.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Gerald Durrell was writing books about his exploits in West Africa at a time when I was a lad living in Nigeria. I just loved his style and humour.

What do you think is the best thing about the life of a writer?

Creating a world of words to be enjoyed by readers.

What do you consider to be your single greatest achievement?

Seeing my first novel, Pets in a Pickle, reach number two on Kindle’s best-seller list.

What are you reading at the moment?

Aunt Margaret’s Lover by Mavis Cheek. She has a razor-sharp wit and is a keen observer of the ironies of modern life.

Can you name a book that changed your life?

Not exactly life-changing, but Spike Milligan’s first novel, Puckoon, had me doubled up with laughter and made me realise how wonderful it must be to make people laugh through writing. And ever since reading it, that’s been my aim.

How do you hope that your books will influence your readers?

I set out to create a series of books based on the experiences of a young vet in practice and all the pitfalls and rewards that he encounters – loosely based on my time in West Sussex.

Inevitably, comparisons have been made to James Herriot, especially as James’s son wrote the foreword for Pets in a Pickle. But my books are spiked with my own brand of humour especially in the use of wordplay, and there are running jokes throughout. Like Marmite, readers love it or hate it.

But when you get Amazon reviews stating ‘the funniest book I’ve ever read’, you realise that you’ve had some sort of influence. And that’s very rewarding.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I’ve had various approaches for possible adaptation of my books to radio and TV. Now that really would be something.

What piece of advice would you give to a writer starting out?

Perseverance. Write... Write... And rewrite.

This year, 2014, sees the launch of a new literary festival in Sussex – the Worthing World of Words. What’s your favourite word, or words?

Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.