Category Archives: interview

The Creative Identity

If you’re inter­ested in the cre­at­ive pro­cess at all, you’ve prob­ably come across a blog called The Creative Identity, run by Stephanella Walsh. It com­prises great essays on the issues involved in writ­ing. Stephanella also con­ducts inter­views. This morn­ing, there’s one fea­tur­ing me.

Almost a year ago exactly, in my second Creative Times, I linked to a fab­ulous, if slightly per­turb­ing, post by writer Ian Hocking. In it, he talked about giv­ing up writing.

Later on:

Q: What is the writ­ing tend­ency you most deplore in yourself?

A: I haven’t learned to fully switch off the Evil Editor on the shoulder. This is prob­ably because I spent so long switch­ing him on.

On Legerdemaine

Part two of my inter­view Aliya Whiteley is now up on her web­site. More mots bon from me.

A: When do you feel sat­is­fied that you’ve done enough research?

I: I don’t think I’ve ever felt sat­is­fied with research. There’s always some­thing that you’ve handled wrong. With spe­cific regard to a novel, where you’re deal­ing with the rep­res­ent­a­tion of lived exper­i­ence, there’s no way everything is going to ring true. A phrase might be wrong; or a train line that you thought was there in 1904 wasn’t built until 1910, or some such. I’d go as far as to say that if I ever had that feel­ing of sat­is­fac­tion, I’d be los­ing my grip on reality.

Charlie Kaufman on Reviews, Structure and Fame

On the strength of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I’d put Charlie Kaufman in the same box as Hemingway.

Reviews:

I tend to not only read reviews, but also every little stu­pid thing online. It’s a very bad idea, and there’s a lot of angry people in the world. And it’s weird to absorb all that weirdness.”

Structure:

There’s this inher­ent screen­play struc­ture that every­one seems to be stuck on, this three-act thing. It doesn’t really interest me. To me, it’s kind of like say­ing, ‘Well, when you do a paint­ing, you always need to have sky here, the per­son here and the ground here.’ Well, you don’t. In other art forms or other medi­ums, they accept that it’s just some­thing avail­able for you to work with. I actu­ally think I’m prob­ably more inter­ested in struc­ture than most people who write screen­plays, because I think about it.”

Fame:

He insists the Oscar means little: “I like hav­ing the trophy, but only on a very sur­facey level does it mean any­thing. It’s just kind of a… Kerouac has a line about fame being a news­pa­per. You know that line? When I read that when I was a teen­ager, I didn’t know what it meant, but now… Fame doesn’t really fill you up in any way.”

A few days ago, I heard that Robert McKee’s Story is avail­able as an audiobook. I read it as a teen­ager, think­ing I’d be learn­ing the ropes, and in a sense I did, but rather more because the points at which I dis­agreed with McKee forced me to think about what we mean by an act, or a scene. I’m still not sure.

Laura Barton meets film dir­ector Charlie Kaufman | Film | The Guardian

Roger Morris Speaks

Well, types. The truth is, m’colleague Roger Morris has been inter­viewed by thev­iew­from­here. Parts 1 and 2 are now available.

[…] There was a launch party for the Macmillan New Writing imprint, and I met the reader who had pulled my book out of the slush pile. That was a great moment. She took the trouble to find me and con­grat­u­late me and say how much she had enjoyed the book. Needless to say, I was extremely grate­ful to her.

Back in the day, I reviewed Roger’s excel­lent Taking Comfort.

The view from here: Interview with R N Morris — Part 1 of 2

New Strange Places: An Interview with Tom Saunders

Tom Saunders is that rare beast. He writes only short fic­tion. Rarer still, his short fic­tion is con­sist­ently excel­lent. His first antho­logy Brother, What Strange Place is This? (2004), received rave reviews upon pub­lic­a­tion, such as my own in Spike Magazine:

This fine col­lec­tion should prove thought-provoking and sad, musical and ener­vat­ing. A kal­eido­scope of lives, twis­ted but bright, and a worthy debut.

Continue read­ing

Jo Nesbø — Special Delivery

You may — or may not — have heard of Jo Nesbø. He’s a Norwegian thriller writer with a series of noir­ish con­tem­por­ary nov­els fea­tur­ing Harry Hole, an alco­holic detect­ive, under his belt. Jo’s Random House pub­li­city ninjette con­tac­ted me a few days back to ask if I’d like some free cop­ies of his latest Hole book, Nemesis, which is out in trans­la­tion this week. Free books? Sniffing an inter­view oppor­tun­ity, I replied in the affirmative.

So, I’ve got five cop­ies of Nemesis to give away. Just add a com­ment express­ing an interest below and I’ll put you in touch with Random House.

Incidentally, Jo has landed him­self a Flash-tastic web­site. Check it out.


First off, your name ends with a let­ter — ø — that does not appear in the English alpha­bet. How does one pro­nounce your name? Is there an English word that con­tains this phoneme?

Like the German ö. Or the “o” in Peter Sellers’ pro­nun­ci­ation of “bomb” in the Pink Panther-movie.

How did you get star­ted with writing?

I read. And Read. I basic­ally post­poned writ­ing as long as I could, that was until I was 37. Then I star­ted writ­ing like a madman.

‘Nemesis’ is a Norwegian book trans­lated into English. How do you find the trans­la­tion pro­cess? Does it require cre­at­ive input from the trans­lator and, if so, do these decisions ever depart from the effect you were try­ing to cre­ate from a given para­graph or sentence?

I prob­ably read as much English as I read Norwegian, but I don’t take part in the trans­la­tion. Because in the end all I can do is trust Don Bartlett. And I do.

The novel ‘Nemesis’ has the concept of memory loss at its heart. In thrillers, this is often linked to ques­tions about iden­tity, and the dif­fi­culty of accept­ing the darker side of a person’s char­ac­ter. How did this become so cent­ral to the book?

I think the ques­tion whether true evil­ness exists – whether it’s an anti­so­cial gene, a response to upbring­ing and cul­ture or some­thing we simply need to sur­vive in cer­tain situ­ations — is a cent­ral theme in all my Harry Hole-books, but maybe espe­cially in “Nemesis”.

I’ve not vis­ited Norway, but in book­shops in Iceland, as well as sev­eral in con­tin­ental Europe, I was struck by the greater shelf space given to trans­la­tions of American and British fic­tion. Do you find Norwegian book­shops sup­port­ive of nat­ive authors?

Definitely. Norwegian and – for some reason — Swedish writers dom­in­ate the best­seller lists in Norway. Sometimes accom­pan­ied by an American writer or two.

One of the aims of this blog is to doc­u­ment the cre­at­ive pro­cess. Can you describe a little of your writ­ing routine?

Not really because there isn’t such a thing as a routine. I write any­where, any­time. And when I’m sup­posed to write I often find myself doing other things …

You’re a musi­cian as well as a writer. How does writ­ing dif­fer cre­at­ively from your music? Do you find them com­pet­ing for your attention?

Music for me is more like tak­ing things out of the air, I don’t really have a method. Writing is about dream­ing things up, using your ima­gin­a­tion and instantly know­ing whether you’re onto some­thing. Writing music has taken the back seat to writ­ing fic­tion now.