Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Without an invitation, Rik answers some questions

David F. Hoenigman, from the Word Riot website, appears to be conducting interviews with various worthies concerning their writing - including an interview with Ron Silliman.

While David has not invited me to answer his question - it appears that he is completely unaware of my existence, which is both sad and understandable at the same time - I'm still going to answer them. It's Crimbo's Eve, after all, and since my driving instructor has had to cancel my driving lesson the most pressing item on my ToDo list is The Making Of The Sherry Trifle, so I've got a little time available for personal aggrandisement ...


What projects are you currently working on?
The three key projects I'm currently working on are my two SF novels - one drafted and undergoing revision before being submitted to Agent/Publishers, the other a first draft work-in-progress - and my Interminable Work (Snowdrop) which seems to be inching its way towards first draft completion. Though my plans for all three took a hard knock in the last quarter of the year and I've found it difficult to concentrate on any of them since October.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in Junior School (what do they call it now? Year 4?), and I haven't really stopped since then. Why did I start writing? I suppose because my earliest memories involve books - looking at them them, chewing on them - they fascinated me, and I've always had a place (a knot, or maybe a ganglion) in my guts telling me that my key purpose in life was to be a person who wrote books. Maybe it's the destiny I chose for myself before starting this latest lifetime. It must be: if I was a rational person, if I had ever wanted to be well-off, normal, that sort of thing - I'd have become a scaffolder, yes?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My early jobs were practical (labourer, lab technician, soldier, office clerk). So the idea of being a writer - by which I mean earning money from writing - didn't become a reality for a while. My first paid work for writing was in the Civil Service, once I was promoted beyond the tyrrany of the filing cabinets. Of course the stuff I was writing wasn't published in the official sense of the word, though its pedigree as works of fiction (we're talking here about speeches, position papers, briefing notes, etc) is beyond doubt.

As for being a 'poet' or a 'novelist', I've been writing poems since puberty, and I finally finished writing my first novel earlier this year. I've never sold any poems, or short stories, or novels, so at the moment I have to consider myself to be an unwaged writer - which is more honest than being a Civil Servant.

What inspired you to write your first book?
There's this profound belief I have in my guts that I can write better stuff than most of the other people currently publishing novels and poems.

Who or what has influenced your writing?
On the SF side of things, my greatest influences are the swathe of SF writers from the 1890s through to the 1970s - the canon writers, if you like. There's just too many of them to mention. Truthfully, I should be busy reading and being influenced by contemporary published writers, but I can't help but hold a flame for my childhood heroes.

For the poetry, I really don't have a clue - though I suspect I haven't moved much further than Coleridge, Lear, Owen and Eliot.

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Books were an escape from the realities of life in rural Kent. They also offered a very real escape route from there. I no longer live on the Romney Marshes.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I have a default style - quite conversational, a little wry, not too heavy on the irony. Sometimes I mix things up for fun; the current work-in-progress is written from a first person present tense POV.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I'm very good at writing speeches, and position papers, and briefing notes. I want to be very, very good at writing genre SF and poetry. Other genres - highbrow literary fiction, for instance, or biography, or romance - have much less appeal to me.

Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp?
No. I want people to enjoy reading my work. I have no mission to change the world's zeitgeist.

What book are you reading now?
Terry Pratchett's 'Nation'.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Tim Powers. Massive in North America, but almost unheard of in the UK. Which is a great pity.

What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?
If my work is being misunderstood, then I'm doing it wrong.

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