Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview with Myself

Yesterday Amazon informed me that my first novel, Malone, had been accepted for publication as a Kindle book. The book has also been published (by me) on Lulu.com. These days it's practically impossible to get a book published if you are new author, but thanks to the Interwebz it's amazingly easy to self-publish. In any event, it's early days yet, so the press isn't exactly beating a path to my door, but I thought it would be fun to publish an interview with myself about the book. Besides this blog has been way too movie heavy lately, so it's about due for some literary action for a change...

This is what the book cover looks like (and no, I don't have another picture):

The cover was designed by my brother Sean. Yes, it is very useful having a relative who is a graphic designer. Anyway, let's get started...

Q: So your book is published and available on Amazon.com. Are you excited?

A: Yes, it's tremendously exciting. I wish I'd done it a lot sooner. It's a weird feeling seeing your own name on Amazon.com, a site I have visited probably thousands of times. And spent thousands of rands on...

Q: The book is called Malone. Why this title?

A:  Titles are very hard to be honest. I wanted a single word title and I thought it sounded cool. Obviously it's the name of the main character. Also Malone is kind of two words combined: Man Alone, which is very much the central theme of the book. One man alone, trying to make his way in the world. Later, I realised that Malone was very similar to Marlowe. That wasn't intentional. I owe Raymond Chandler a huge debt of gratitude, he was a major influence on me, but I wasn't trying to steal his most famous character's name.

Q: Why did you write a detective story? Isn't this genre really over-worked now, to the point of cliche?

A: Yes, it is. But the books that influenced me most profoundly when I was younger were detective stories. I love the genre and wanted to write a homage to it, but one that reflected more modern attitudes. I felt that despite the brilliance of Chandler's writing, his character Philip Marlowe was a bit too straight laced, too certain in his views and actions. I wanted to create a character who is a lot more human, filled with weakness and doubts, a more ambiguous character.

Q: Apart from Raymond Chandler, who else influenced you? 

A: Well, Ellroy obviously. Sam Peckinpah. Cormac McCarthy. Jim Thompson. Charles Bukowksi. A bunch of people. The book is basically a huge amalgam of all my influences. I wanted to put them all in the first book so hopefully the second one would be more original.

Q: Was it difficult writing about places you've never been to? 

A: Yes, very... I did some research but mostly I just winged it. I don't have Ellroy's resources. I wanted the book to capture the mood of a time and a place, not be a travelogue. It's an impressionist painting, not a documentary photograph.

Q: Why did you set it after World War II? Why not something more contemporary? 

A: As I said, I love that time in history from a literary point of view. Post World War II, the world was an exciting place to be, like awakening from a 5 year nightmare to a fresh new dawn. I also wanted it to be about this man who has fought in the war, experienced many terrible things, and now has to re-integrate himself back into society but he can't escape the violence, and finds himself fighting another war. I am very interested in the second world war. It was an incredible period in human history. The men and women who fought in it are often referred to as 'the greatest generation' because of the sacrifices they made to rid the world of the greatest evil it has ever known. It never ceases to fascinate me...

Q: But the book seems quite flippant and even disrespectful towards these men. Your characters are not that likeable even.

A: I wanted them to be real people, not cariciatures. Most of those soldiers were barely out of their teens. They were young and immature. They hardly knew what they wanted out of life. And yet they had to perform acts that required enormous courage and fortitude. But they were human, warts and all. I wanted to show them that way...

Q: What about the women in the book? Was Gloria van Doren a whore?

A: She was a woman forced by circumstances to make some tough decisions. I think in those days it was very tough for women who didn't take the easy route and become housewives. Especially if they wanted to forge a career in the movies or whatever. They could easily become victims. I wanted to show that Gloria wasn't a push-over. She was strong. She held out, but eventually she gave in. She was so beautiful and desirable that every man wanted her, even men who should have protected her. She was born with a gift of beauty that should have given her a gilded life, but instead it became her downfall. The relationship with Gomez wasn't submissive though. She had as much power in it as he did, if not more. She's a strong woman. I hope that comes through clearly enough.

Q: The book is quite short.... did you run out of ideas?

A: Haha.... it felt long to me! I wanted it to be a pacy read. I feel people today dont really have time to read long books, and most books are over-long anyway. I wanted it to be punchy. Get in, get out. The books from those days were never long. People read two a week! But I still wanted it to have substance.

Q: Well, thanks for talking to us, and good luck!

A: Thank you.

And there it is. Malone is available to order from the following places: