Rob Temple, an alumnus of Nottingham University, found his success through his So Very British Twitter page and subsequent Very British Problems publications. Born to be Mild is his most recent work: a slightly different piece in the form of a humorous, relatable memoir taking the reader through his journey of gentle adventures. Melina Williams interviewed Rob about his new book and his experience of working with such a heavy reliance on social media.
Born to be Mild as a memoir is a highly personal, autobiographical work. What inspired you to put into words so many personal experiences? Would you say there was a sense of catharsis in writing the book?
I wrote it to get my thoughts organised, the process was very cathartic and it helped me a lot, but ironically the thought of it coming out and people reading it has filled me with dread. Ups and downs, I guess. Though I’m very grateful for the chance to again publish a work I’m proud of.
Has the journey of writing this book helped you in any way to confront/deal with the anxieties you have experienced in life? Or to put it plainly, are you on the way to creating your perfect sausage sandwich?
Haha, I don’t think the sandwich exists. But I’m happy to keep searching. They’re lovely, sausage sandwiches, aren’t they? Even the vegan ones. I think the best vegan product I’ve had is the sausages, now I’ve found the right ones.
Is the book intended to be received purely as a comedy, or do you aim to offer comfort to others who have had similar experiences to yourself?
It’s purely to entertain, I think. And if anyone gets some insight or help through reading it it would make my day.
Humour is often a coping mechanism, is that what you have attempted to portray in this book?
Humour is a coping mechanism, but sometimes one that hides real feelings, and can stop you discussing them. For me the coping mechanism in the book is the importance of family, friends, pets… whoever helps you through and whoever is there.
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I found Born to be Mild an honest, heart-warming and humorous memoir, where do you think this style fits into the current market? Do you think there exists a gap in the market for such truthful, relatable works?
Thank you very much. There are definitely spaces for these kinds of memoirs. Amber Tozer and Terri White are favourites of mine. I encourage anyone to buy their books.
In Born to be Mild, you come across very much an introvert, what advice do you have to other introverts who may have an interest in journalism and writing?
Just be honest, write what you know, that’s all I can advise. And don’t be put off by being shy, it really doesn’t matter, as long as you believe what you write. Shyness and anxiety shouldn’t be an obstacle. My favourite writers are not confident people. And these days people are much more aware of mental health issues.
I understand that you started your Very British Problems physical publications as a result of being inspired by your success on your Twitter page – how did you find the transition from writing posts on Twitter to writing books?
Exciting, and nerve wracking, but great. And my agent Juliet makes things so easy, she’s brill.
What were the major differences and (if any) difficulties you found between writing the Very British Problems books and Born to be Mild?
Simply one laid me bare and the other I hid behind jokes.
As an alumni of Nottingham University, how would you say your university experience contributed to shaping you into the writer/personality that you have become? Is there anything in particular you have taken away from being a student in Nottingham?
Nothing I’d say particularly other than at Nottingham I met friends for life (Dan mentioned in the book) and it was just a great uni. I had lots of fun, met lots of interesting people, received support from the medical centre and it was just a great time. Anyone who gets into the uni is in for a treat.
In an age which finds itself very reliant upon social media, how integral do you feel your Twitter platform has been to your success? And have there been any downfalls to having a job so reliant on social media and having a job that allows you to “run a social media empire from the comfort of your sofa?”
Running a social media account, you encounter a lot of people who consider themselves excellent people but are simply bullies without realising it. They feel free from saying whatever they like about people they’ve never met. Most people are lovely though.
And finally, now that you have had a few years to consider it, might I ask again what your favourite book is? (Is it still Wuthering Heights or have you changed your mind?)
At the minute it’s Less. But it changes all the time.
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