Publisher: Table Thirteen Books
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Book Links: Amazon / Table Thirteen Books
Synopsis: This is the story of Joe Claude and me,
And of my son and the sisters he loved,
And of their father, how he came to be
In a graveyard – naked and uni-gloved;
Of hamburgers, hurricanes, murder, string,
Of werewolves and waiters, barmen and cooks,
From Maine to Biloxi, from Mayfair to Pring,
Furniture, ketamine, golfing and books;
Marriages made and broken and mended
Under the shadow of loved ones who died.
See how the grieving billionaire ended
Up in that prison where laughter’s proscribed.
Will he be rescued? Read and find out
What The Conspiracy Kid’s all about.
Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.
The Conspiracy Kid is the inspiration for this book. The Conspiracy Kid obviously conspired to inspire me to write it. That’s the point of departure, Chapter One, which is the Edwin Mars Sonnet: “Friend, as of now the Conspiracy Kid has taken up residence in your mind. And if you say I didn’t, well I did ….” You start the book by reading this sonnet, as a result of which, like it or not, you become automatically and irreversibly enrolled in the Conspiracy Kid Fan Club – and the story follows the earliest unwitting Conspiracy Kid Fan Club members. Whether the Conspiracy Kid Fan Club is a new religion, a cult, a con, a gimmick, a MacGuffin or sheer nonsense – well, that seems to depend on who you are and where you’re coming from. Are you the kind of person who needs an organization like the Conspiracy Kid Fan Club in your life? I think that’s certainly one of the questions lurking between the lines of this story.
Q. How did writing this book affect you?
How did it affect me? That’s an interesting question. Well, I would say that on the whole, it made me extremely happy ……. when it wasn’t driving me to distraction and despair. I love the process of writing. How to tell the story in the best possible way – solving those problems. It’s very engrossing, frequently frustrating and remarkably rewarding when it works. And that’s what it is, work, hard work – but I love that. I certainly don’t see it as therapy. Mind you, when you’re dealing with extremely painful subjects – and my goodness this story certainly has its fair share of death, disaster and doom – and you’re writing with comedic ink in your pen, then you do need to be …. what? How can I put this? You need to allow yourself to be exposed, so, yes, the process can frequently be emotional and raw. Comedy, I guess, is one way of dealing with that kind of pain. You don’t have to be kiddish, but it helps. That’s the Conspiracy Kid message. Maybe there is some therapy in the process after all.
Q. Is there anything you haven’t written about that you would like to in the future?
I’m not sure that I can actually answer that question. I don’t really think like that. The book I’m writing at the moment requires almost all my attention. It obliterates the future. I know the characters in it and I have an idea of what is going to happen to them, but things have a way of changing and slipping and sliding and surprising, as you go along – like life. And I won’t know what all the ingredients will be until I’m finished, but everything has to be available for the current project. I don’t want to be thinking I can’t use that situation or that idea or that character, because whatever it might be is reserved for some future project. I don’t want to think about the future till it gets here. Does that make sense? Probably not. When the future arrives, it’s not that future any more, is it? Anyway, I’m doing my best to concentrate on jam today. Tomorrow’s jam will have to look after itself
Q. Which of your characters would you want to be and why?
I don’t think I’d want to be any of my characters. I like to inhabit my characters. I like to allow my characters to inhabit me, but at the end of the day I want to go home and be myself. Of course, I do love my characters. I enjoy their company, but on the whole they do tend to have all sorts of problems, which is what makes them interesting and fun to write about, but not all that much fun to be. There’s a great Pete and Dud routine about reincarnation in which Pete says: I’d like to come back as a sparrow so I can see down ladies’ blouses – and Dud points out that this wouldn’t work, because if you were a sparrow, you wouldn’t want to look down ladies’ blouses, you’d just want to look down sparrows’ blouses. The more I think about it, you know, I can’t think of any character in any fiction that I would like to be rather than myself. Perhaps I should discuss this question with my shrink. Only I don’t have a shrink. Maybe I should get one
Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
Yes, I do. Many. The current subsequent book, which is something of a contradiction in terms, but never mind, is (provisionally) entitled “Mee and I”, and it’s about a phenomenally successful writer of children’s stories and the young woman he plucks from obscurity to write his biography. It’s largely inspired by a period in my life which I spent with Lionel Bart (of Oliver! fame), attempting to write his biography. As far as subsequent subsequent books are concerned, I think we’ve already covered that in the question before last.
Q. What are you currently reading?
I’ve just bought some Alice Munro stories. I saw she won the Nobel Prize for literature, so I thought I better read something she’s written. I find that when I’m writing, I tend not to read very much, and as I am somewhat engrossed in the afore-mentioned current subsequent book, it may be a while before I get round to it. So, I’m not really currently reading anything, but here are the last three books I’ve read:
1. Police, the latest Jo Nesbo, Harry Hole thriller, which features some very clever misdirections – but you know what, that’s it. I’ve had it with serial killers. I don’t want to know about them. I don’t want to read about them. And this one is so preposterously prolific, working his way through practically half the Norwegian police force, torturing and mutilating and dismembering as he goes …….. it’s just not a life-enhancing reading experience.
2. Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, which is quite charming. It started life, apparently, as a movie idea and does rather read like. If you read it, you won’t need to see the film. It’s very funny.
3. Sybille Bedford’s A Visit to Don Otavio. People have been telling me for years that this is one of the best travel books ever written and I’ve only just gotten round to it – and it’s wonderful. Here’s Bruce Chatwin on the subject: “There is no point in trying to summarize the trials, sights, tastes, and delicious surprises of Mrs. Bedford's 'Wonder Voyage,' (to Mexico after WW2) nor to comment on the uncluttered lucidity of her style. It is simply a book of marvels, to be read again and again and again."
Q. All of the books you’ve read, which book has impacted you the most?
I once dropped a hardback copy of Ian Kershaw’s 880 page Hitler Hubris 1889-1936 on my foot. That was pretty impactful. I hobbled for a month. Otherwise, well, goodness me – to choose just one book, that’s very tricky. I have loved so many, from the House at Pooh Corner to 1984, from Robinson Crusoe to The Sirens of Titan, from Madame Bovary to Farewell My Lovely. Hmmm. I think the book that put in my mind the idea that I might actually write one myself was Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. It’s bonkers and beautiful and poetic and full of jokes and contains recipes and has very short chapters and is brimming with possibilities. Including the possibility that Brautigan would shoot himself in the head with .44 Magnum at the age of 49? Who knows? I don’t even know if I could read it now, but it certainly made a hell of an impression on me when I first came across it. Trout Fishing in America. There. I chose one.
Q. How do you like to spend your spare time?
My doctor has been muttering darkly about my liver of late, but I do love Martinis, Gibsons in particular, Tanqueray, straight up, very dry. I have that in common with (The Conspiracy Kid’s) Joe Claude. I like to start the evening with a Gibson or two, then punctuate the proceedings with occasional glasses of pinot noir. I walk the dog, a large labradoodle called Frank. I repair to my local swimming pool four or five times a week and dutifully do my lengths. I find I have very little patience with television these days, although I am able to waste hours watching the PGA tour. If I am watching golf on television, the members of my family disappear. They vanish. It’s a remarkable trick. It has only just recently dawned on me that watching golf is not practicing it, which is probably why my last appearance on a golf course, a fortnight ago, was so dismal that I am seriously considering putting my clubs on ebay and taking up something more useful instead, like Candy Crush. A week does not go by without listening to Jazz Samba by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd – balm for the soul.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes. A seriously heartfelt thank you, dear reader, for reading my books. A book does not exist until someone reads it. (Discuss.) A book without a reader is just paper and ink. I love to read – and that semi-anonymous place between the covers, where reader and writer meet, it never ceases to thrill and fill me with wonder and delight. Keep on turning the page.