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A Special Guest

Mr. Tinkles was my favorite character in jongibbs Fur-Face. The polite gorilla captured my heart (and my funnybone) from first appearance. You can imagine how happy I was when Jon asked if I would like to have the exclusive interview with dear Tink-ums right here on my LJ.

I give you...

A Quiet Word with Mr. Tinkles

Mr. Tinkles made quite an impression on readers with his small, but memorable, role in Fur-Face (the debut novel by Jon Gibbs). Through the miracle of Skype, I recently spoke with the overly polite, 500lb gorilla, at his holiday home in Florida.

Fur-Face marks your debut appearance in a novel. What made you decide to pursue a career in literature?
Gosh, I’ve dreamed of appearing in a book for as long as I can remember. When I was a youngster, my uncle, Zoram, landed a small part in The Planet of the Apes, the novel by that French fellow, Pierre Boulle. He played a guard at the research center where the apes kept that human astronaut chappie, after they capture him.
After the book spawned a series of hit movies, Uncle Z. became quite the celebrity in our home town. I was a mere 250lb-stripling at the time, but it made a big impression on me.
What was it like working with Snowy, the ironically-named black cat who stars in Fur-Face?
Oh he was an absolute joy. We became great chums, on set and off. He’s jolly good company and very down-to-earth. So often in this industry, characters get big-headed when they land a lead role in a novel. They try to hog all the good lines, or make demands for a bigger trailer, but not Snowy. Mind you, he’s full of mischief in real life. The little scamp was always getting the delivery chaps to substitute anchovies for the bananas on my pizza. Cheeky blighter.
Jon’s old gran was well-known for her less than cuddly personality. How did you get on with her?
[Laughs] Snowy used to call her ‘Old vinegar tongue’. She was very nice to me though. I remember after reading one of Jon's early drafts she told me, ‘If they ever give an Oscar for Best Supporting Role Played By a Gorilla, in a novel by someone with the initials ‘J’ and ‘G’, featuring a 13-yr-old boy who meets a talking cat that only he can hear, I do believe you stand a reasonable chance of making it on to the list of potential nominations.’
Jon Gibbs, who wrote Fur-Face, says you often ad-libbed during the writing phase. Did you ever worry he might take offense?
Good gracious, no. Jonnie was a real sweetie about taking suggestions, and not just from me. He held a cast meeting every day before work. ‘It’s not my book,’ he’d say, ‘it’s our book. If you’ve got a good idea, I want to hear it.’
Did any of your off-the-cuff lines make it to the final draft?
Oh yes. Remember the scene where that absolute rotter, Benedict Barnum, looks me in the eye and I really let him have it?
[Reproduced here for folks who haven’t read Fur-Face]
As Barnum left the viewing-room, Mr. Tinkles yelled at his retreating back. “Your hair needs a trim, human, and I certainly wouldn't wear those shoes with that color tie if I were you!”
He shuffled back to join Snowy, who stared, open-mouthed, at the window, where the mist from the gorilla's breath had begun to evaporate. “Wow.”
“I’m so sorry you had to hear that kind of talk, Snowy, but I needed to put the vulgar fellow in his place.”

In the early drafts, Jonnie had me roaring and gnashing my teeth like some wild beast, but when it came to writing the scene in full, I ignored the script and inserted some more realistic dialogue. ‘See here, old boy,’ I told him. ‘This may be a middle grade novel, but you shouldn’t be afraid to tell it like it is.’ It took a bit of persuading, but in the end he kept my version pretty much word for word.
Fur-Face took six years to get accepted for publication. That’s a long time to work with the same group of characters. Was there ever any tension between cast members?
Of course, but nothing serious. I remember during the penultimate draft, Razor stormed off the set because Jonnie wouldn’t use his idea for getting us out of the cell. Mind you, he soon came back. Razor’s a bit of a perfectionist, which is no bad thing. He just wanted the best possible story.
Have you stayed in touch with the others since the book came out?
Not as much as I’d like. I still see some of the rats, they have an open invitation to stay in my basement whenever they like, and just the other day, Professor Farofas dropped in for a cup of tea and a biscuit. I’ll be seeing old Snowy again very soon. We’re doing a flashback scene for the Fur-Face sequel, Barnum’s Revenge, which should be jolly good fun.
What’s next for Mr. Tinkles?
Well, I’ve auditioned for a few roles in other books, but no offers yet. Mind you, after that latest Planet of the Apes movie did so well at the box office, I daresay there’ll be no shortage of gorilla roles in novels for me to try out for. In the meantime, I thought I might give writing a bit of a bash. I’ve had this wonderful idea rattling around my head for a while now. It’s a story about a family of apes who find a human child, abandoned in the jungle. They raise him as one of their own. If I can get it into a more coherent form, I might just contact old Jonnie Gibbs. Maybe we can work on it together.

Mr. Tinkles is currently appearing in the novel, Fur-Face, by Jon Gibbs (aka jongibbs). When he’s not auditioning for roles in other novels, he enjoys surfing, Tai Chi and crossword puzzles. If you know of any story openings he might be suitable for, please contact his agent.


( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 18th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,
but aping is a close second...
Jan. 18th, 2012 06:40 pm (UTC)
You have to wonder what he's thinking :)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jan. 18th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jan. 18th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
I think we (who have read Fur-Face) can all agree that Mr. Tinkles is one of nature's gentlemen. It might be a cliched phrase, but in his case, it is entirely appropriate. I loved him, too.
Jan. 18th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Karen. He was a joy to work with :)
Jan. 18th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
A Quiet Word with Mr. Tinkles
User jongibbs referenced to your post from A Quiet Word with Mr. Tinkles saying: [...] who earned widespread praise* for his supporting role in my debut novel, Fur-Face.   [...]
Jan. 18th, 2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
A Quiet Word with Mr. Tinkles
User jongibbs referenced to your post from A Quiet Word with Mr. Tinkles saying: [...] motivates a sensitive (and extremely polite) gorilla to pursue a career in literature, click here [...]
Jan. 18th, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
Way to go
Mr. Tinkles is a fascinating character and I love his interview.

May he could get me his uncle's autograph. Love him in the movie.

Jon, good luck with your future work, With this kind of imagination, you're going to be in print for a long time

Kathye Quick
LSFW Founding Member
Jan. 18th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Way to go
Thank you for the kind words, Kathy, they're much appreciated :)
Jan. 18th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
Well that's me sold!
Jan. 18th, 2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
(and there was no sarcasm - I did actually just buy it on Kindle) :)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jan. 18th, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jan. 18th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
That Mr. Tinkles is one great ape. (Sorry if that was cringe inducing.) I'm looking forward to seeing him in the next book, but my favorite is Snowy. =^w^=
Jan. 19th, 2012 10:22 am (UTC)
That's good to know, Lave :)
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Jan. 19th, 2012 10:22 am (UTC)
Thanks, Jenn :)
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Jan. 19th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
Not sure, Karin. I'll have to ask him :)
Jan. 19th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
Haha. This was brilliant :-)
Jan. 19th, 2012 06:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jakob :)
Jan. 19th, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
What a great interview with the handsome and talented Mr. Tinkles! Can't wait for Barnum's Revenge :):)
Jan. 19th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it, Kammy :)
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )