Welcome to Winkdale by journalist and comedian Ralph Jones was released September 1st with Vulpine Press.
Described as ‘a surreal compendium of comic tales…a postcard from the strangest place on Earth’, it has been highly praised by Paul Chuckle, Danny Wallace and Richard Bacon. It an absolute pleasure to welcome Ralph today with a guest post, so I do hope you enjoy.
[ About the Book ]
Immerse yourself for a while in the unique village of Winkdale, the setting for Ralph Jones’ debut collection of hilarious short stories.
Winkdale is a magnet for some of the weirdest and most fascinating people around. Here you will meet lost souls, frustrated dreamers, and total berks. Two rival fromagiers compete to make the best cheese for the Queen. A man hopes that buying a falcon will give him a new lease of life. A Stephen King obsessive kidnaps the author to give him a few writing tips. An elderly ice cream woman is forced to find a new jingle.
A surreal compendium of comic tales, Welcome to Winkdale is a postcard from the strangest place on Earth.
[ Guest Post by Ralph Jones ]
Hello. Ralph Jones here. Lovely to meet you. Let me tell you a little bit about my new book, if I may. I began writing Welcome to Winkdale three years ago, with our newborn daughter lying across my legs as I sat at my laptop. Now she is three (obviously), and the world has changed enormously. It’s impossible for her to lie across my legs, for a start, and we have another daughter.
What can I say about Welcome to Winkdale? It’s a short story collection made up of tales designed to make you laugh. I love trying to make people laugh. Failing to make people laugh – not so keen on. But TRYING? Yes please. There is no greater feeling on Earth. The book contains sentences like ‘Lick my ice cream up and down, you won’t find ham or fish’; ‘How old is that kestrel, Sir?’; and ‘There was caramel all over Colin’s face, hair and groin.’ Hopefully that gives you a good indication of what it’s going to be like.
The collection, which is 15 stories in total, features characters like Ron Brimble, a man who makes his living growing moustaches for other people; Ken Dence, a Stephen King obsessive who finally gets to meet the author; Jason, a man who decides that his life would be better if he carried a falcon everywhere; and Mr Cramborium, the miserable owner of a disgraced caramel emporium. I noticed at various points while reading the book that many of the stories end with characters killing one another. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on there but, in case someone raises it, I am already aware of the issue. My next collection is unlikely to feature quite so much death – unless that’s exactly what the public want, in which case I’m obliged to do a lot more of it.
Often sparked by a chance thought or a passing comment, each of the stories is my attempt to explore and populate an amusing idea. For example: what would happen if an ice cream woman was forced to come up with her own jingle for copyright reasons? How would you try to sell a cursed violin? How long could you get away with joining a choir because you fancied someone but miming for the entire time because you can’t actually sing?
Really, this book wouldn’t exist – at least not in this format – if it weren’t for my discovery of Simon Rich, a man I greatly admire as the funniest prose writer on the planet. Until I read Rich’s work – and immediately bought his books – I didn’t gravitate to the short story; I stayed in other comic formats like sketch or sitcom. But Rich’s stories made it obvious that short stories – especially outlandish funny ones – are a form with scope for limitless invention; your characters can immediately do anything, live anywhere, and sound however the reader wants them to sound; the stories can take place whenever and wherever you want them to. And, let’s be honest, they’re great for people too lazy to write a novel.
Whether or not any of these stories are optioned and become Hollywood films featuring Timothee Chalamet, they have been an absolute joy to write. I think that, as a form, the short story has the potential to spread so much fun and laughter. Small, strange, funny – but enough about me! No, but seriously now, come on, settle down. What I hope comes across in the pages of the book is a love of language, a love of eccentricity, and a love of fun. If that doesn’t come across, you won’t get your money back but I will come to your house and personally apologise. How does that sound?
[ Bio ]
Ralph Jones is a journalist and comedian. He has written for publications like The New Yorker, The Guardian, and Wired. He also runs an improv murder mystery night, Criminal, and is 50% of award-winning sketch group The Awkward Silence. Welcome to Winkdale was released 1 September by Vulpine Press.
Website ~ www.mrralphjones.co.uk
Twitter ~ @OhHiRalphJones