Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the interview I have been excited about for a long time. I went to University with this reprobate, and I adored his dark series Lasciate Ogne Speranza, as well as his excellent poetry (for anyone ever privileged enough to attend a poetry meeting at which this gentleman is performing, please shout ‘Do Robot Sex’ from me. He’ll know what you mean). Here my friend talks about his latest projects, the authors he enjoys and the importance of dreams. Enjoy!
Please tell me about your writing style. Why do you focus on darker themes within your novels and stories?
I wouldn’t say that I necessarily ‘Focus’ upon darker themes in my stuff. It just tends to be what ends up coming out. I often say that it’s not like I sit at my desk and think ‘Okay, what’s the most horrible thing I can think of?’ No, not at all. I’m actually greatly suspicious of these ‘Splatter-Punk’ sorts who write stuff for the sake of being as disgusting as possible.
As both a writer and a person I’m obsessed with extremity in all of its forms. Writing acts as a means for me to healthily explore this obsession. Contemporary society is far too afraid of addressing its own innate and undeniable fascination with subjects such as death, violence, and unrestrained sexuality. A society that will send a child to a therapist for drawing scary pictures. I myself would be more worried about a child that doesn’t.
As for my ‘Style’, well, that’s a tough question as I’m not totally sure that I have one. My work tends to be very character and dialogue driven. I adore writing dialogue as it’s very challenging. The task of writing a passage that simply consists of two people sat talking to each other and still have it be interesting takes a great deal of effort. I also try to avoid massive paragraphs of description. Readers don’t need to be spoon fed, they know what the inside of a pub looks like. For me it’s all about the mood of a setting rather than what it looks like.
How did you get into writing? What made you want to get into fiction?
I think I was something like ten or eleven years old when I started knocking out my first short stories. I wrote them on this monstrous electric type writer that my Grandmother gave to me. It made the most diabolical noise and caused the whole desk to shake!
This was around the time when I’d realised that books were actually produced by living, breathing people, and that anyone could do it. I enjoyed writing because it got a reaction out of people. One of the first things I ever discovered that I could do well was to make people laugh.
However I didn’t start concentrating on writing seriously until I was in my late teens and wasn’t successfully published until I was twenty two. My first efforts weren’t really that great and I wrote them mainly for my own amusement. It was more putting daydreams onto paper than actually structuring a story, but it was a start at least.
I’ve always been attracted to fiction as I see it as being the ultimate form of expression. There are hardly any limitations to writing. If you can find the words for it then it can happen. There aren’t any rules that say you can’t do this, you can’t say that, that’s not true, this isn’t possible, and so on.
William Burroughs once said ‘Write about what you know’, but I much prefer Stephen King’s version ‘Write about whatever the hell you want!’
Tell me about the status of Lasciate Ogne Speranza, I’m a big fan! Have you finally finished it?
Lasaciate Ogne Speranza is currently kind of similar to a very recently deceased body. The flesh is dead and the soul has vacated it, but there are a few electrical impulses still firing away, which I’ll get into later.
I now see that series of novels as me cutting my teeth at writing pieces that are 50,000+ words. Making sure that I can stay dedicated to a piece long enough for it to reach a substantial length.
I originally began writing the series for my Grandfather. An avid reader and huge fan of the crime/thriller genre he really enjoyed the first three books and would always pester me about when the next one would be ready, not quite grasping that the damn things took me almost a year each to write. Sadly, not long after Id started the fourth and final novel, he passed away following a long battle with cancer. I then found myself unable to finish the last book knowing that he would never get to read it. So unfortunately I have now declared that the series will never be finished. I’m thankful to everyone who downloaded a copy and enjoyed it, some of the feedback I received I was amazing and I’m so very glad that I was able to provide people with an entertaining, albeit incomplete, story.
Are there any activities you do when you’re looking for creative inspiration?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I am never uninspired. Ideas come into my head all the time and I have to try my best to keep them in order and not forget any good ones. It can be as simple as a spontaneous light-switch above the head or as boring as sitting and having a really long think.
I enjoy walking. I enjoy going out to write. There are a few select pubs where I’ve gotten a great amount of work done. I try to keep a notebook with me at all times just in case something pops up. Though I have also, on numerous occasions, had to dash to the nearest stationary shop as I’ve come out unprepared. Some of my best scenes have been written on the fly.
Dreams are also very important. Far too many people don’t pay attention to their dreams. I’m not really a big believer in dream interpretation or anything like that. You know what I mean? A dream about your teeth falling out means you’re worried about money? Very silly. Though our dreams do act as a clear window into our subconscious and they can sometimes help me to put the finger on that one idea that I can’t quite get my head around.
How do you go about researching your books? What information do you believe is essential before you settle in to writing a new piece?
Who? What? When? Where? And why? Are the questions I always hit first when I’m planning any new project. The ‘What if?’ element usually starts the whole process rolling and the aforementioned questions need filling in as I go along.
Another key thing I make sure to do is find out if anyone has done the idea before. Whenever I come up with a potentially promising project I always trawl the internet as deep as I can to make sure that no-one has beaten me to it.
I also like to be as factually correct as I can possibly be. We live in an age where research has become so easy that it’s unforgivable for an author to make factual errors. The internet makes this very easy, but I also like to do some hands on research if I can. For example, I recently wanted to know more about stained glass windows, so I actually set up a meeting with the rector of the Loughborough Parish church and went along to ask questions and take photos. He provided me with information that can’t be found on any website so it adds a proper level of realism to my story.
What books are you reading at the moment? Is there anything on your radar that is really inspiring you?
I listen to a lot of audio books while I’m at work and can usually get through one a week.
Jay Bell’s Something like… series was something I recently enjoyed and was a huge influence on one of my current projects. I’ve also, within the last year, developed an almost unhealthy love of the work of Truman Capote. People mostly know him for In cold blood, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and pretty much nothing else. But his work is so much more than those two books. His debut novel Other voices, Other rooms, which he wrote at the mere age of twenty three, is an absolute masterpiece of the Southern Gothic genre and opened my eyes to a whole new way of writing which, I’m not too proud to admit, I’ve been trying my hardest to emulate ever since.
Tell me about your music. What projects are you working for and is there anything new coming up we should look out for?
For the time being I’ve pretty much given up on music. I’ve recently moved to a new town and had to decide what few instruments I could bring with me.
Music is something I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with. I love making music but I hate performing live. I love the process of recording music but I hate trying to get people interested in actually listening it. Being in a band has always been difficult for me as I usually want to maintain a certain level of artistic control which the other members often come to resent.
So, I’ve had to make the decision to put the writing first. When I write I don’t have to run my ideas through four other guys. I don’t have to haul a car full of kit to the other end of town and pay upwards of ten pounds a time in order to write. I don’t have to drag people to a dingy venue in the middle of nowhere on a Thursday afternoon in order to get them to read a story.
Music demands a level of dedication which, at this moment in time, I simply cannot commit to. That isn’t to say that I’m turning my back on music forever. If the right situation presents itself I’ll always be willing get back into it.
Speaking of things to look out for, have you got any new writing projects, books or stories coming up? Are you researching anything exciting at the moment?
I currently have two main projects, both of which I’m very excited about.
The first being my supernatural Mega-novel Residence. I’ve not set this book a word limit as I’m releasing it bit by bit on my DeviantArt account in installments of between six and eight thousand words at a time, so it can pretty much just run and run. It’s by far my favourite thing I’ve ever written and is, in my opinion, my best work. I actually tried to get the first third of it published via an independent press in America, but it was rejected on the grounds of being, and I quote, ‘Too strange’. Admittedly it is a very weird story and doesn’t really have a point apart from to be a rip-roaring thriller. Though I’m still very proud of it.
My second project, and the one that has swiftly started to take up more and more of my time, is my totally realist novel As they come in. The premise for this book had been festering away in the back of my mind for quite a while, but it’s only recently that I’ve finally started putting the pieces together. I remember hearing a story about Ronnie Kray. He would bring his boyfriends with him into pubs and ask of people,
“Isn’t he gorgeous?” to which all those assembled, hardened East-End gangsters every one, would reply,
“Oh yeah, Ronnie, He’s lovely!”
I also watched a documentary about a guy from Liverpool. He called himself a ‘Debt collector’ but he was in-fact, if anything, an enforcer through terror. I found myself astonishingly attracted to his ruthlessness and his brutality, though there was also a kind of odd tenderness to him when he was filmed with his family, talking about his hopes and dreams or the pride that he had in his boxing club. I thought to myself, what would it be like to be in a relationship with someone like that? What would the consequences be? Could you be in a loving relationship with someone who does horrible things for a living?
This book also includes characters from Lasciate Ogne Speranza. I was writing a particular character and I started to notice a feeling of familiarity. It soon became obvious that this wasn’t a new character at all, and after I threw in the towel and admitted that it was an L.O.S character the floodgates opened and I decided to bring in a few more elements from those books.
As they come in is a very different creature to L.O.S in that it isn’t so blood-thirsty that the pages are sticking together, but is rather a story following one person’s journey through a life changing experience.
The book is also my first real attempt at addressing the subject of sexuality head on. As a twenty eight, Gay, working class man I often feel that I’m not properly represented in contemporary literature. As much as I loved the Something like… series, the books still left me thinking that Jay Bell’s characters live in an idealised world that in no way speaks to today’s Gay youth, let alone today’s Gay young adults.
As I say in the book,
“To old to be a twink, too young to be a queen.”
Within the writing community, are there any up and coming fellow authors or books you are excited about in the future?
I know a great many fantastic artists and writers who are deserving of much more praise than myself.
The brilliant illustrator and comic-book writer Ramiro Roman Jr creates stories and scenarios that are almost indescribable in their surreal beauty. Ramiro never fails to astonish me with every new thing that he puts out. His work can be found at redmuseum.net
My good friend Garath Barsby is an amazingly talented writer and cartoonist. His novella Werewolf asylum was even available on the shelves at Tesco for a while. His stuff can be viewed at myweirdwriting.wordpress.com
Trevor Gates, an awesome author and artist from Texas, is one of my favourite underground artists at the moment and creates images and pieces of writing that often make me think, ‘Damn, if this guy isn’t famous yet then I don’t stand a chance!’ Check out his Facebook here, facebook.com/Trevor-Gates-224601067564715/?fref=ts
Anything you’d like to add?
I guess all I have to say is thank you very much for offering to include me in your blog. I understand that 99-percent of everyone reading this probably has absolutely no idea who I am so I really appreciate the exposure.
I very much miss going to The Boot with you, Hannah and drinking astonishingly large quantities of their cheap bitter. You’ll have to come and visit me soon!
In closing, Let’s put it this way, trust me you’ve not seen anything yet!
I’d just like to say thanks, it was great to hear from an old friend. Check out his Facebook page HERE.