My name is Neil Mason and I live in the beautiful city of Norwich in the idyllic county of Norfolk, England. I moved here with my wife in 1999 from Bedfordshire.
The inspiration for my first novel There There My Dear came from a newspaper article back in 2009 that both shocked and amused me. Simon Cowell, it was reported, planned to make a game-show to find the next ‘big thing’ in politics. The article made me think about the whole politics-media-reality TV-unhealthy interest in fame and immediate gratification conundrum. At first I could not believe that anybody would think of such a programme, that anybody would watch such a programme and that anybody would enter such a competition.
After a while I realised that these were ideal ingredients for a comedy, a satire or a spoof to mock the concept. I also worried that the format of the programme would attract extremists and polar-opposites. Certainly this would make for great TV, but would it further political debate? Would the contestants just be supporters of existing political parties or would they offer innovative and considered ideas? Or would it provide a soap box for the deluded, the extremist or the downright bizarre? Could holders of certain political viewpoints be excluded from having their say? Would there be a need for censorship?
Admittedly, I have a tendency to over-think things, so I started to consider the format and, initially, I settled on a TV or film script. How I revelled in the prospect of writing the next ‘Yes, Minister’, ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ or ‘The Thick Of It’. How I dreamt of the plaudits, adulation and praise. How deflated I felt when I realised that I did not stand a chance of bettering those outstanding creations.
Whilst considering the format again my mind wandered to other things that had sat uncomfortably within me for many years. Answers were not coming to me, but more questions popped up in my head: why is there still such poverty in Africa? Why don’t the various African-nation governments address their own social issues and why isn’t the money that is made available spent on infrastructure? Do all political party members agree with each other? If not, why are they in the same party? Does democracy really exist?
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“Sign up today and I’ll send you the first ten chapters of my debut novel There There My Dear, for you to enjoy at your leisure.” – Neil