Johnny Rich

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Johnny Rich

Goodreads Author

in London, The United Kingdom




Member Since
October 2012


After publishing a series of award-winning guidebooks about universities and student life, Johnny turned to fiction and became a student at the world-famous MA course in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he was taught by, among others, Sir Andrew Motion, Lorna Sage and W.G. Sebald. He also mixed with some of the great names in contemporary fiction: Sir Malcolm Bradbury, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Doris Lessing, Hanif Kureishi, Ali Smith, Louis de Bernières and many others.

While at UEA, Johnny wrote the first draft of his debut novel The Human Script. He was immediately snapped up by a top London literary agent, but it was another 12 years before the book was published by independent imprint Red Button.

Apart from his

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Johnny Rich Thanks for your great question, Greg.
As you read further, you'll see that I have sought to draw parallels between the human genome and a 'human…more
Thanks for your great question, Greg.
As you read further, you'll see that I have sought to draw parallels between the human genome and a 'human script' in many other senses. For example, there is the almost literal sense in which our genes are like the lines an actor follows while they also add their own interpretation. But the genome is a script in other ways: it is a destiny that we – or may not – we predetermined to follow.
The novel itself is, of course, a script of sorts too and the central character, Chris, acts his part in that story, never quite knowing the extent to which he is following a script or writing it for himself.
As you read on, you'll see many other parallels, I hope.
For this analogy, it felt important to me that the book – like the human genome – should have 23 chapters/chromosomes. Each stands on its own to some extent, but they make little sense without the wider context of the whole book/genome.
And like chromosomes, they come in pairs. The book has two parts and, roughly speaking, each chapter in the second part has a partner in the first.
Similarly there are pairs of epigraphs are the beginning of each chapter. These are like the inheritance of previous 'scripts': like genetic material that accretes and evolves, so too does the literary canon, constantly finding novelty in different combinations of the same limited number of letters and words to make new sentences and ideas.
These epigraphs too come in pairs, acting as a structural guide to the ideas developed in each chapter and setting up the sides of the debate that each chapter explores.
And, I hope, all this also adds to the depth and excitement of the story.

As for future books, it would depend on the needs of the subject matter. The Human Script suggested this structure very clearly. An idea I have been working on might need a far looser framework that – at the moment – I am conceiving of like a funnel: chapters that grab in ideas from multiple, seemingly unconnected sources with the links between them gradually becoming more apparent before finally resolving into a single universal point of reason.
For this I've been reading about Alexander von Humboldt, the explorer, scientist, politician, rights campaigner and much else besides whose life was so full of variety, but whose lifework was an effort to unify our understanding of the cosmos into an all-encompassing singularity.(less)
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The Human Script: finally available in paperback

It's been a long time coming, but finally The Human Script is about to be available in paperback.

The trek to publication was arduous. After initially setting several literary agents alight with excitement, it was turned down by every UK mainstream publisher, usually after the intervention of the marketing departments who didn't see it as a commercial hit.

More than 10 years later, Red Button,... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on September 28, 2015 04:24 Tags: contemporary-fiction, literary-fiction, new, new-release, paperback, release, reviews

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“To reread a book is to read a different book. The reader is different. The meaning is different.”
Johnny Rich, The Human Script

“This pain is comfort. It is the solace of physicality, like a touch.”
Johnny Rich, The Human Script

“The only simple truth is that there is nothing simple in this complex universe. Everything relates. Everything connects”
Johnny Rich, The Human Script

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”
Marcel Proust

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

“Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us.”
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time
tags: love

“We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world. The lives that you admire, the attitudes that seem noble to you, have not been shaped by a paterfamilias or a schoolmaster, they have sprung from very different beginnings, having been influenced by evil or commonplace that prevailed round them. They represent a struggle and a victory.”
Marcel Proust

“Forgetting that beauty and happiness are only ever incarnated in an individual person, we replace them in our minds by a conventional pattern, a sort of average of all the different faces we have ever admired, all the different pleasures we have ever enjoyed, and thus carry about with us abstract images, which are lifeless and uninspiring because they lack the very quality that something new, something different from what is familiar, always possesses, and which is the quality inseparable from real beauty and happiness. So we make our pessimistic pronouncements on life, which we think are valid, in the belief that we have taken account of beauty and happiness, whereas we have actually omitted them from consideration, substituting for them synthetic compounds that contain nothing of them.”

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