My next interview is with Marc, the man who can't quite match his wall paint with his lounge wear, but since he subverts genres he insists in his world the colours do match.
How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
I think if you start out trying to tailor your work for what you imagine readers are after, you're likely to get it wrong. I just write the book that the material demands of me and have it take its chances out there. Readers are diamond sharp, they get what the writer is trying to do. It's only a question of whether they like the story and style or that they don't.
What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.
Subverting them! I don't like the notion of genre and labelling, though I understand why they exist in this online search algorithm world. But to me labels and genres are really restricting. Has a Steampunk fan no chance of enjoying a work by Franz Kafka or Philip Roth? That's what genres seem to be saying, channeling readers down narrow paths. I've never really regarded myself as a writer in any genre, but this book and my next one definitely take genre categories and look to warp and distort them beyond where they still mean anything. "Time After Time" is an urban, sci-fi, dark romantic comedy. With literary experimentalism in terms of its form. It's all of those genres and none of them. Just a work of fiction really!
Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?
Yes, but as I write a lot of flash fiction, many of these ideas quickly get used in a flash story. Then I later regret it when I realise that maybe it could have become the centre of a novel. I've got ideas on the back of bus tickets (from about 20 years ago), scrawled across newspapers, on the back of utility bills, because these are the only paper I've had to hand at the time. A friendly indie bookshop owner gave me a Moleskin notebook, so now that's where ideas get jotted down.
How do you manage plot bunnies (ideas that invade your mind that aren’t usually helpful to the story you’re writing but breed like...er...bunnies)?
I just note them down as above and trust to them finding the right story of mine to inhabit. never throw anything away!
How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?
I really believe that all characters are autobiographical in some way. Even if you use something in a story that somebody told you as an anecdote, or you read in a newspaper, it becomes part of your experience and psyche simply because it resonated with you enough to want to store it away in your memory. It's not the same as you experiencing it personally, but it still comes from within you if you roll it out to use in a story. So to me, all characters exist inside you, even if it's the parts that rarely get seen in you. I like to pitch characters diametrically removed from me; it forces me to move towards them to discover them and in doing so I learn stuff about myself and hopefully the discovery process for me helps keep the writing itself fresh. The character Karen Dash in my debut novel "A,B&E" is my favourite character, but god she scares the living daylights out of me so I'm not sure I'd be around her, she'd eat me for lunch and wash me down with a cocktail - me I don't drink! I also have a sneaking regard for DJ SlipMatt in "Time After Time" as he gets to play lots of great music in the novel and run a criminal enterprise in doing so.
Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?
I write in sprees, so when I'm in one, she knows to steer well clear of me! My 14 year old twins however are not so forgiving and they're probably right.
What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?
I find that really hard to answer as I'm not sure how I come by the books I read, even though I know what I like and dislike. I do read mainly fiction, but beyond that it's hard to pin down. Something about the theme or the title clues me into an author I haven't heard of before. There aren't many books I fail to get through because I've chosen badly.
What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?
I would just trust to the words themselves. But I hope readers find that my books contain more thought provoking ideas than most and also that the language itself adds something extra to the experience. Words are slippery and elusive things. Due care has to be given to them by the writer. Some are more precise than others. Sometimes the writer wants to exploit that ambiguity in a word, where it has two (or more) different meanings. I love trying to shape a sentence so that both meanings of a word are implied simultaneously, even when they seemingly work against one another.
How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
I welcome it because it means I haven't done my job to the ultimate degree it demands.
What is on your near horizon?
I've signed a contract with a small US independent publisher for a collection of 7 of my short stories, but I'm not sure of the publishing date. My second 'genre-crunching' novel will be published next year, that one is a "police procedural" where procedure has collapsed in a dystopia. But what I really want to do is raise a modest amount of money through something like Kickstarter and get a video made of one of my flash fiction pieces by an animator and have a scratch DJ to do the soundtrack of it and then perform it live against the video backdrop.
Where can we find you for more information?
My blog is http://www.sulcicollective.blogspot.com The website on the novel is http://marcnashtaft.yolasite.com/introduction.php and I keep both my Goodreads and Amazon author profiles up to date. I also have a YouTube channel with 20 videos on all things reading.