Category: anti-hero


It’s been quite a ride. From my New Year’s Post until today.

Today marks the first eight years in Ibiza. It’s been quite a tough ride, sometimes it wasn’t all skipping through the daisies, but I made it so far.

Now, when I look back on the past twelve months I can only say. It was a whole lot of work, but in the end it was damn well worth it.

So, at the end of November I received my first copies of my newly published book, La nit estesa (Night extended) which is a crime (type film noir in book form with pulp elements) novel which draws on various literary genres. It’s basically a hard-boiled detective story but also some kind of underground novel. It shows you Ibiza from its seedy drug ridden underbelly. Protagonist is one hapless anti-hero fighting his drug addiction.

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I’ve been pretty busy in the past few weeks, starting the translation of my book into two languages. So, that’s something that kind of keeps me busy. As well as promoting my book in the Catalan language region, the Balearic Isles, as well as mainland Catalonia.

I also have a very thousands of new ideas for new writings. I finished two different poetry books this year, I compiled a short story selection and began the draft of a new novel. So there are things that can be expected for 2016 or 2017 depending on how fast things go and I get them to move forward.

Before you do your first real publication, you’re completely concerned if people will like your book. Now, if I’m honest, that’s not really a concern for me anymore, it might sound a bit mean or tough, but the truth is, once your book is out, you immediately start to think of new things to write about, about the next step. Well, that’s how it is with me, anyway. The tears, the pain, the sweat and the effort are all in the book. Now I need something new to get my teeth in. Lol 😉

Apart from being busy, I start getting noted which is nice, it’s weird, but it’s nice too. So, I’ve got an interview request and I hope that both interview and the two book launches can be carried out without fail.

At the minute, the whole thing around “La nit estesa” is a whole lot of juggling times, and juggling your other projects, and juggling family and friends. It can be a drag, but let’s face it. There are by far worse things to complain about. So I will shut up now.

I’ve had an extraordinary and truly exciting year 2015. A year of growth. And somehow, I hope this is just the first bit of a rollercoaster ride that please does not stop mid-air or with my head in a spin or some upside down position.

Looking forward to it.

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CK: Yeah, ok, it’s on.

SM: So now, everything is on the record now?

CK: Yes, everything… (laughs) Stop saying these silly jokes I don’t want to listen anymore.

SM: So, everything I say will go on the record now.

CK: No no, I will let you see the copy before it goes online and viral.

SM: Oh yeah? (laughs) So what I quite like is to change when I’m writing. I mean that’s a problem I guess. For trying to build a career, in literature. The thing is that … when I write for instance for science, which is what I enjoy the most, but then, when I’m done, I want to do something completely different. So I’m never gonna have a career … you know…

CK: …linear.

SM: Yeah, no, that’s not gonna work for me. I’m never gonna be a science writer. I’m going to write about science, then, I’m going to write children’s books, then… but I’m never gonna be a writer that writes for children. Cos next I’m gonna write a book about sex and violence. I’m always gonna write something different, then I change completely and that’s something that drives my agent mad. It’s very difficult to find an audience, to follow you through all of this, because it is so different.
But this is what I like, this is what I like most about writing. It is the freedom to do whatever I want.

CK: yeah, so you like to zigzag?

SM: Yes, I completely go from left to right. Then start over again.

CK: I think it’s the best you can do cause it shows that you have a very big variety of interests.

SM: Yes.

CK: Yes, I find that quite unique. Because there is a lot of people, you know, you speak with them and it turns out they are kind of one-sided.

SM: Usually, in most writers, you find something they like and they are good at and then they do it for life. That’s what works for most of the writers. If you write crime novels, you would write crime novels for all your life.

CK: Yes I know, and they do it in a kind of industrialized form.

SM: It’s true.

CK: They have one kind of recipe.

SM: and they repeat it over and over.

CK: plus it’s a bit like one size fits all. And then boom.

SM: It works across most genres. … It works for crime novels. It works and it works for them. Let’s take for instance Paul Auster who is an author I quite like a lot. But all his books, they’re all the same. Or take any writer who is successful, anybody that writes. Any writer that is successfull. Eventually, they all write the same things, over and over.

CK: So do you mean it’s a trap that most people fall into?

SM: Or willingly… I mean they enjoy it. Well I guess they enjoy the success in one area and they just stay there.

CK: I think it’s a sign that money corrupts. Isn’t it?

SM: Well, I don’t know if it’s money, fame or whatever it is really… I don’t know.

CK: Maybe it’s just that they found the one way to be successful, and they keep going that way.

SM: Maybe they think they are not better doing anything else? Or maybe, I mean, I think, most people have one view, one way… of doing things, and that’s they stick to. I would think that people would like to test and try out different things. Not only for literature but everything in life. You focus on what you’re good at. Whatever you’re good at. And stay that way. Maybe people would like to try out something… but most of them don’t. The fun thing – I mean for me – is exactly the opposite. What is good for me, though, is I can do that, I can say that cause I don’t have to pay my bills from my books.

CK: That’s nice. Yeah!

SM: That gives me complete freedom. If I had to put food on the table with my books, I would probably write whatever sells. But I am lucky that way that I pay my bills with my other job. So I can write whatever I feel like. So that’s my career plan when I write. Do whatever I want, whenever I want it. (laughs)

CK: So what about your past novel? What I found most intriguing was … I mean you started out doing – correct me if I’m wrong here – I think “Mugrons de Titani”… (rough translation: steely nipples or titanium nipples) was your first book that came out. And so that was kind of a tour de force really.

SM: It was a crazy thing, that was definitely something completely crazy. We never thought it was never going to be published. So, we really did that for fun. We thought nobody would ever see that. We were keeping it in line with what we thought was fun. We were enjoying it. So we thought let’s put all the references we like in it, let’s put it all into a book. And mix things like James Bond, Derek Jones and Star Wars, and everything.

CK: You had this fanzine going!?

SM: Yes, at the time, when I was writing, I met Sebastian. We met through a fanzine about science fiction basically.

CK: …which I found truly amazing. Cos I think fanzines, you know. The only fanzines I just knew about were punk or new wave fanzines, like for music and stuff. I didn’t even know that there were any science fiction fanzines.

SM: Oh yeah, here in Barcelona, there was actually a quite vibrant scene here, you know, in the early nineties. INTERNET KILLED THE FANZINES. It is quite obvious. It was much easier and cheaper to just post it, do it online. Back at the time, we were publishing it with our own money, trying to sell as many issues as posible, and then with the money we made from one issue, we would finance the next one.

CK: so it was a pure fun thing?

SM: Oh yeah, pure fun. We never thought we would make money from that. The first issue of the fanzine was very cheap. The second issue we put color in it, the next one we had better paper and so on… And eventually we got a nice looking fanzine. There were not that many that were doing science fiction in catalan at the time. And we managed to get a good group of people, actually they were quite interesting people with writers and illustrators.
We eventually had a good team, they were all doing very good jobs.

CK: What did you put it in there?

SM: It was a mix. It was a bit of everything. Articles, you know, opinions, illustrations, you know comics, we would have fiction. Anything. It was crazy. It included everything. A lot of humor! Basically humor and science fiction.

CK: So why did you stop?

SM: (Laughing) There was no money to go around. Eventually we went bankrupt. (laughing hard) It took a lot of effort to get it going. Eventually I went to the U.S.. And some people stayed here and they kept doing, it changed into something else. It was nice, bigger and better. But eventually they couldn’t manage it. It was too much money and time.

CK: Right. Let me ask you one question. Going away from Barcelona: Was it a decision that made your heart bleed that you had to leave the country?

SM: First of all, I was going to New York so it was good thing…

CK: So it was not bleeding too much. (laughing)

SM: It was a good thing for me. (laughs) No, it was good for me. I knew I had to eventually go. I thought it was a brief time, I thought it was a brief stay, a couple of years and it would be a great experience. That couple of years turned out to be for nine years eventually.

CK: So it was like a career move? You wanted to make. And it turned out to be a longer stay.

SM: Actually it was not something that I had wanted to do, but something I had to do. I had to do. Which is I was very happy here. So if I didn’t have to I probably would not have moved which would have been bad for me cause I loved being abroad… Being forced to move, to go away was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I managed to get all these experience in NYC. Which were great. And now in England.

CK: What does it feel like, being in New York? I mean the big Apple. Place of seduction. I mean there are so many different cultures around. IT is a bit like a melting pot.

SM: Yeah it is. Everything you read about NEW YORK is true. You feel quite literally like you are in the center of the world. Everything that happens, seems to happen around New York. When you read a newspaper here in Spain, you know exactly what’s happening in NY cause it. (…) People in NY, really, they ARE a bit arrogant. They definitely feel that it is the most important place in the world. So I had this feeling a couple of years, it was a very intense city. It is a very intense place to live. Very nice, definitely fun. But also fun, yeah, it was fun. For my job, it was really good. I learnt a lot. All along the east coast, from Boston to New York, there is this huge number of important research labs. I saw for example Nobel Laureates doing lectures every month. So I saw like ten or twelve Nobel Laureates. That’s an experience you DON’T usually get. So, the best people, you get to see them. So that for me was very interesting.

CK: And meanwhile you worked on the novel together with Sebastian. You sent the version back and forth.

SM: Back and forth. Through the internet. That was actually the beginnings of the email. That was 98. The internet really exploded in 95 or something. Since I was at university, I was using the internet earlier than everybody else, and that must have been 95 or something. Later on, the internet became so much bigger that everybody could use it. (…) So we started writing the novel the year before I was leaving. And then I had to leave, so I thought what’s going to happen now?

CK: Please let me know one thing… What makes you want to write a novel about a lesbian woman? I always wanted to know.

SM: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, that was Sebastian’s idea. For some reason, he read an advertisement somewhere in the internet or somewhere about a contest for the best short story – in English – about lesbians… a lesbian theme. It had to have a lesbian theme.

CK: Ok.

SM: For some reason he thought that we could go there and win!

CK: (cracking up laughing)

SM: which I think in retrospect was completely silly cos we did not know English and we had no idea about writing lesbian literature, obviously. So he said. Yeah, let’s write it! Yeah, it was completely misguided from the beginning I think. (laughs)

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CK: (laughing) It is really crazy!

SM: So he said let’s write this short story, and see what happens. So we wrote it, had a lot of fun. So then we said yeah let’s write another short story. And then we made the mistake by saying oh, yeah, let’s turn it into a novel.

CK: I don’t know where I read this… but I think I read somewhere on the internet that you said something about going to a lesbian sex shop and doing some quality research.

SM: Yeah, I sent my wife to do that!

CK: She must have appreciated that one.

SM: Yeah, definitely. She went there with a friend. Had a lot of laughs. Obviously we could not go. Obviously we were not … you know. So yeah, no, we did not know anything about the theme.

CK: So now, Valentina appeared… I think she is actually quite a vital character. She is really kind of three dimensional. She is funny, she is sexually very much, umm, she is a twenty first century woman. I would think.

SM: Yeah, yeah, we tried to make a strong character, definitely, a good lead character.

CK: She actually gave an interview just recently…

SM: yeah, that was fun. You did a great job with that one.

CK: Thank you.

SM: That’s the kind of thing we wanted to do. A very good strong character. We wanted to put her in the middle of some craziest adventures and see what happens. The thing is we were writing it without worrying about it too much. And it was difficult. We were not planning anything. We were just writing. And that’s a bad idea. Especially when you write together with somebody else. You should always plan ahead. We learnt that the hard way. But eventually we managed to get something. We thought ok. Now we have this novel nobody would ever publish. It is impossible. Nobody would ever like it. It is too crazy. It does not follow any sort of rules. So it was clear we could not use it for the short story contest anymore. So we said, you know… there is this prize for erotic novels. Why don’t we, why don’t we try to submit it? Sebastian had this idea. And I told him, it is IMPOSSIBLE! For starters, it is not even erotic at all. I mean there are some erotic scenes, but there is nothing erotic about it at all. That was Sebastian’s idea. He said: Why not? So we tried it. It is a complete miracle. It happened. We were nobodies at the time. We didn’t know anybody. And we still won. It was a complete miracle. And it happened. You know. The doors opened. For both of us, it was the beginning.

CK: I think it is a very well conceived novel. To be honest I would wish for it to have a second part to find out.

SM: We joked about it. When we were doing it, actually, we planned to do a trilogy. So we actually had a second and a third part. But we never really… I guess That’s going back to the fact… that i always want to do something different. And not repeat myself you know.

CK: She could have matured, make a time leap.

SM: yeah, … We already had a story ready for the second volume which was fun too. It was something with humor and sex. Was like… you know… then we thought… “ah, maybe in the future”… Anyway, it was fun to do it at the time. We moved on. And I still write with Sebastian. We still do books. We just finished one. And we are writing another. Actually we are on two projects right now.

CK: So you are doing two projects with Sebastian right now? Can you talk about any of it?

SM: It is basically for teenagers. It is a story about a teenage girl. Actually pre-teen. Age: Ten, twelve, something like that. There is something different. It is almost like these books the one we read when we were young, the one that’s connected with Alfred Hitchcock, it’s called the Three Investigators which is very popular in Germany.

CK: Yeah, yeah.

SM: Or the seven secrets or the five ,… whatever. I think there is a group of children, I don’t think no-one doing these things anymore. So I think… It is a fun thing to do. Put some kids in the middle of some mystery or something. So that’s the first one, we just finished that one. And the second one which we wrote almost parallel is a similar concept. But it is more a science fiction environment. It’s about young kids doing research, mystery research… But with a ghost, things like that. Researchers. Paranormal mysteries.

CK: Ok, that’s your new project. Another novel which I quite liked was Ullals. It’s a very psychological and also, well it’s almost like a parallel universe. Cause you open up a door to a kind of dark universe. And you kind of explore what happens if … uh… if you are being subjected to things you don’t really want to experience.

    ATTENTION BIG SPOILER ALERT FOR ULLALS – IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK SCROLL DOWN TILL THE NEXT BOLD TEXT IN ORDER NOT TO RUIN THE THRILL

SM: Yeah. It was from the beginning the idea we wanted to make a thriller. So it’s not gonna have big explosions or big crimes and things like that… so it all happens in a small environment with only three or four characters in it. And everything that will happen, you don’t really know if it’s TRUE or not. The whole idea or the principle or the idea from the book was from the beginning was to … to not know, to NOT be sure if the more fantastic side of things were true or not. You can explain everything with logic and normal things, or you can explain it with the supernatural. You can explain it that these monsters in the forest that have powers. Or you can explain it with the boars in the wood and that’s it. We wanted to just play with them.
We wanted to play around with these characters, they are being subjected to strong stress, they are being locked up, they believed everything they tell them. We wanted to do it that way. We were never actually thinking we were writing a novel for teenagers. But we eventually won a prize for teenage fiction. We were thinking of a more general audience, obviously the characters were teenagers, but the idea was the same thing. We put characters in extreme situations, and see how they deal with that.

CK: So it was more like – how do I say this? – it sounds almost like a scientific experiment!?

SM: Oh yeah… It was really something like that. Just lock some people in a place and make them experience, put them to some extremes and see what happens to them.

CK: That sounds nice. (laughs)

SM: …and see what happens then. (laughs) It was based on a true story. It was again Sebastian who read something in the newspapers. There was a story about these kids locked up in a special place, a very similar situation. Obviously there were no killings or anything. But they were subjected to some… well I don’t want to call it torture, but it was some severe stress. Sebastian asked me do you want to do a story? He said this is great this is even better than fiction. It is real. I said, yes, let’s do it. But let’s add another dimension. Let’s have the guys locked up in a place. They can’t get out cos there’s some monsters outside. Yes, so that they cannot get out. Let’s compare the real monsters, the people who lock them, with those guys outside, with the fiction, the boar monsters. See how they deal with that. There could be whatever it is in the book. Let’s see how to deal with that. For us it was how to limit ourselves. Three kids, three adults, in only one scenario, only one place. See if that would work. I think it worked pretty well. It got eventually targeted as a teenage as a crossover fiction. I think it is definitely not the typical book that teenagers read, and I think that they shocked a lot of people. There was a lot of reviews, from blogs, you know teenagers write a lot of blogs. Most people said, it was fun, but it is not the kind of book that we normally read, which to me was a plus. But for them, it was shocking. There was no romance. There was no … The ending was too open for them.

CK: I think it was closed. I mean the guy is dead.

SM: That’s what I think too. Yes, it is an ending that allows you to … Well it is clear what happens to whom. I mean some things are not answered. But I think they are not important things. You wanna believe that there are monsters in the book. Well that’s fine. It Works if you believe the opposite.

CK: It also works if you… you know: How did he get the ticket…?

SM: So you have to assume he killed the other guy. It could also be … you could also assume that he is not dead, he is just badly beaten. The important point is: The guy that escapes … (there is a lot of spoilers here) cannot escape really. He eventually has to go back to the same prison, with his family, that’s the main story. That was a story how to escape, how to get out, more than anything else. For me in that sense it was a success. It was interesting. How it worked to write a story with a limited number of elements.

CK: Now I have a serious question: why did you kill your main character? (SM laughs) He was so likeable.

SM: Yeah, I know. We were trying to make a character that was not likeable at all, from the beginning. We tried to build an arrogant asshole basically. A spoiled brat.

CK: I don’t think so.

SM: As soon as you put him in the middle of that situation, he becomes likeable, because he is fighting for survival. He does not come across as being not likeable. It was not in our intention. Our intention was we wanted to make him even less of a classic hero.

CK: I understand you wanted to present an anti-hero… He comes across as arrogant, snotty. But that’s normal, that’s normal, he is just a normal teenager.

SM: Yeah, it is true. He eventually helps everybody to escape, and everything.

CK: He is a scared boy.

SM: Yes, That was the idea. Take someone who looks like an asshole… but eventually in a stress situation his true color show up. He is not at all as bad as he seemed he was. We did not know how to end it. The first ending was that he would escape and that’s it… Actually, it was my fault. I came up with a new, with a twisted ending. I got a twist here. This twist here makes it even more interesting.

CK: It was a very good, the ending… But to be honest, I felt so sorry for this guy. I thought, oh my God.

SM: Damn it, the poor guy. (showing mock empathy)

CK: I mean he had been through so much, he’s been beaten up, he’s been locked up, he’s been through so much shit … You know so why kill him?

SM: Yeah, I know. (laughs)

CK: That was going over the top. I would have liked him to help the girl escape. And then… she is also dead.

SM: I don’t like happy endings. Ever. So I think none of my novels have happy endings ever.

CK: You are perfect children’s books writer! (both laugh)

SM: I don’t know. I never come out with a happy ending. It is not always a sad ending. In the case of Ullals it is quite sad.
It is not what you would expect. I like it that way, I guess. When you write for children, on the other hand, we try to do more happy endings, come up with a more classical ending. But I guess it is more fun.

    END OF SPOILER ALERT ULLALS – SAFE TO READ FROM HERE ON

CK: I can totally understand that. From a writer’s point of view.

SM: You know, these endings… They are more powerful…

CK: As a writer, I mean sad endings they are more interesting, they give you more options to play with… You can torture your… that sounds really nasty… This is Kurt Vonnegut (and his views on story writing), I posted this once in a blog… you have to subject your main characters to so many things… don’t be nice to them, be really nasty.

SM: Yeah… Exactly… Make them suffer (laughs)

CK: For one thing… I think it was really, well, to be honest it felt really sad for him, and you know why?, cause this is a strange thing to say, I identified with him so much.

SM: Yes, sure. That’s the idea. You identify with him as much as you can. And then you feel the slap on your face when you know this guy’s not gonna survive. It makes it even (more) stronger. No I mean I agree. It depends. Not everybody would like the ending. But I think everybody would appreciate the shocking ending. That was sort of unexpected. It would be more expected, you know, the idea that he survived. I didn’t … We didn’t do it only for that. This is the exception from my other novels. Usually… the endings… are very… For me there is only one way to end a story. When I write something, that’s the end, I felt from the very beginning. That’s the way the story ends. In my head, it always ended like that. I cannot think of a different, of any better ending. This is the ending for that one. Period.

CK: This works for you.

SM: Yeah. Sometimes it is a bad ending. It truly depends on where the story is taking you.

CK: I read some of your short stories and I really liked them… And I think you are really a good short story writer and I wanted to know why you always slag off short stories? (SM laughs) Cos it’s really silly.

SM: I know it is. And everybody tells me that. Anyway. But I don’t know. I don’t enjoy reading or writing short stories that much as a novel. For me, short stories focus…. on the story so when you write a short story you are most focussed on what happens in the story. Whereas when you write a novel, it is what happens, and HOW it happens and How you develop the characters. There is more about the base, the rhytm and how you build the characters. It is a skill too, for sure. (…) But with a novel, you need some room to show your abilities, to use your tools. With a short story, you basically show how good you are at coming up with a story. You don’t have that much room… but with a novel you show your skills… With a novel it is about the how you develop all the things you can do… With a short story, You don’t have the room. There are some great short story writers. But you can be a mediocre writer, and still come up with a good short story.

CK: You are doing it again? Do you notice?

SM: Yes, I will always knock down the short story. And I will always do that. It masks the true… Well… The true ability … It simply does not show up in a short story.

CK: I don’t agree with you here.

SM: Nobody ever agress with me. Whenever I say it on the internet, everybody… attacks me.

CK: I do want to understand it. And I do understand it inasmuch you think that a way to show your“brilliance” – in quotation marks – you can go all the way.

SM: It is like that you need the space to do that, in that sense … The only way is with some room. In that sense I don’t like long novels either. Good novels are short. I think the ideal… length is I think something like 150 pages. That’s what … you really need to shine.

CK: Hey, … my novel is 150 pages. Thank you so much! (laughing)

SM: I mean yeah… 150 till 200 pages. That’s as much as… You can have a good story. You can show your abilities and everything… If you are going over 200 pages, you are probably adding things that are not necessary for the main story. (…) if you tell a story with different storylines, then of course, you can make it as long as you want … up to 1000 pages if you want. If you want to tell one story…

CK: I have to tell you one thing, I mean I studied letters… No, I am going to cut this… this is not going onto the official version… obviously… But I with books, I was a bad student, this is not going into the official version) I mean with any book that was beyond 350 pages, I would only read the contents, the beginning, the middle and the end of the chapters. And I was like an excellent student. (SM Laughs) Nobody ever found out.

SM: (laughs) … yes, cos in the middle there is the important stuff.

CK: I had this scheme going on. I didn’t like it to go through some 500 pages.

SM: I think what happens … You lose its rhythm. With long novels, you get distracted. I mean it is a personal thing. But there is so many people who love long novels… Still for me, the best way to show things… the best books … 150 – 250. Maximum.

CK: Before I forget it. What was the first reaction when you first read my novel as whole?

SM: I thought it was a nice, a good story. It is an interesting take. Interesting point of view. Interesting
group of characters. Whatever defects it had. I still think… what came through… it is not a very usual story (…) At least the first ending I read was not a very happy one either.

CK: I am prone to unhappy endings as well.

SM: It was unusual I would say, I would say. An original story. It is also short. Goes straight to the point. Definitely thought there was a value in that story.

CK: Thank you. Well, I try to get it published. Hopefully the book will eventually see the light of day. (…) But I’m also working on a different story right now. I have like a thousand projects going on. I have to focus… This is project a, project b, project c etc. I always tend to try to do things simultaneous. And it never works.

SM: It is very unusual. I have a little bit of an attention deficit … self diagnosed. So for me it is very difficult to work just on one project. I get up to four very easily. I almost need it…

CK: I can so totally understand.

SM: It is the way I work. The good thing is I have a lot of discipline. I can work on three or four different projects. Without wanting to throw one project out of the window. There is no rule to writing I guess.

CK: Does your family go mad with you?

SM: (Laughs) They are used to me I guess by now… It is quite difficult to keep me focussed on one project only. It is also good for my other job in the lab… You always have three or four different things going on (…) You don’t get bored with just doing one… You keep adding things and so on.

CK: What do you do? You have your peojects? Do you have a time schedule? How do you plan things? Now it is time for research… The next couple of things is writing.

SM: Yeah, I try to be very organised about it… You know normally.. When I start writing a story… It takes me years and years. Before I start writing the stories tend to be around for a long long time. Because you know I think a lot, a lot before I write. Until I find a way expressing it… That also goes for the books I do with Sebastian. The teenage book is in the making for ten years now. It is quite unusual I guess. I need to understand the characters.
I never write straight away. All of my books have been incubating for some ten to fifteen years. In the moment I start to write, I know exactly what I want to write. I know where the story goes.

CK: That is fascinating. I totally understand… I told you I had this fragment… There was one scene… I was truly flipping… It was almost an epiphany. Cos I knew I had this one scene and I thought I had totally forgotten all about it… It had been wiped off my screen. And it came back popping up again.

SM: Yes. It is a little bit like that. That’s how it happens. You think of a story, you forget about it. Then you start thinking about it again, you forget it again, it builds up again, you know you want to work on it. (…) There are some stories where I think I need to know more. This is gonna to be more complicated to explain. You know the thought, “I need to learn more. I need better skills. So I will leave that now, work on different stories now, and worry about that one later.”

CK: Ok, lets talk about skills. What do you think is worse… A good story badly written or a bad story well written?

SM: That’s a good question… Having a good story well written, it’s very difficult. I think that both have virtues I guess … You can have a poorly written book that is amazingly interesting, the story is so good that you don’t care even if they are poorly written. Or, you can have books that are so well written that you really don’t care about what’s going on. There are some very good writers. That you read the books and every page is like really good. It does not really matter what’s going on in the story. I enjoy both kinds of books. Obviously, the best you can find is the combination of both. They can both be good in the sense that you can have fun with both kinds of books… I don’t think necessarily… I mean I don’t think it ever gets in the way if you have a strong story. Not always you have great writers and great stories.

CK: Ok, I formulated it kind of provocatively.

SM: (…) Yes, there might be an average writer and the story is good, so it can still be very enjoyable. Not always you have the authors that matches both… For instance something very nicely written. And still: The book does not say anything. The skills are amazing. The book does not say anything. I find this phenomenon sometimes with the books by Don De Lillo. He is an amazing, a very good writer. But sometimes his books are just aweful. I mean they are nothing… in the sense that it is just him writing… that’s it.

CK: I haven’t read anything by him. You mean it is just fluff.

SM: There is sometimes, well, it is nothing. The story does not take you anywhere. Well it is sometimes just him writing, and that’s it. Well, there are on the other hand. Well, recently I also read something by John Banville which I enjoyed very much.

CK: Which one did you read?

SM: The sea.

CK: Oh, haven’t read that one.

SM: The story is not much happening in the book. There is not much in terms of a story, you could tell it in a few pages. But the way he writes it, the way he develops it, is great, is very enjoyable. There is almost nothing. Almost no story at all. But yet, it’s still a great book to read. It depends I mean. I don’t think it’s a rule. (…) It also depends on the reader. Some readers would enjoy one thing more than another. It has to be a Little bit of everything. It is very difficult to know what makes the perfect book. I mean you can recognize if a book is well written or not, and you can recognize if the story is good or not. But whether or not you enjoy the book, really depends on you. So, it is very difficult to say really this is a great book. You can like it or not. I guess there are some objective things and some VERY subjective things when you evaluate a book.

CK: What do you value when you read a book from a new writer? When you go like Wow, this is good!

SM: Oh yeah…I don’t know. That’s true. What is this IT thing?

CK: Is it dialogue? Crazy characters? A twist?

SM: I think it has to be unexpected. Well it does not necessarily have to be crazy.

CK: No, I meant crazy in a good sense, in terms of being unexpected. Unusual.

SM: Yes. Something that is unexpected. Something that you haven’t read in that style before. It takes you to a place that you were not expecting. I think that depends a lot on the shape of your mind at that time in your life. There are books that you read when you were young that made a difference, that marked you… They really influenced you. And still, and then you re-read them after some twenty years, today you might pick them up and you would wonder what it was.

CK: Sorry, I remember you were saying … something on the net about a juvenile book…something with “estany”… and so I read it because it was a nice size book, a small book. And the vocabulary was not too hard. So I read it, and it was really nice.

SM: At the present time, I haven’t really re-read that one. At the time when I read it was really good for me. I was in my early teens and it made a good impression on me. I don’t think that guy is an especially good or an excellent writer… He managed to get a story that touched me. It was a very good book in that sense. When I read it, it meant a lot me. It was a very appealing book in my age. At least to some of us. I think it is very difficult… There are some books where you think you would never like them and then when you read it you go like wow and you like them… So, it is very difficult what would make a book interesting for you, so that you would like it… It depends on a lot of factors. There are some astral conjunctions that makes it work.
(PAUSE)

SM: So the problem with books, is – and that’s why some people say it is impossible to say if a book is good or bad – is that there is a very subjective element whether you like it or not… But when you are criticizing a book, when you write a book review, you have to try to be objective. You have to value the good and bad things of the writting, point out its strong and its weak points, and then apart from that, you can say I liked it, I enjoyed it very much, or I did not like it. For example: It is poorly written, but it really touched me, so yeah I like it. That’s it. I think that’s fair. It does not have to be an excellently written book and a very clever story that’s the best book, not necessarily. Sometimes you enjoy other kinds of books. (PAUSE… typing)

CK: Has being a father changed your perspective… as an author?

SM: (laughs) Yeah, definitely. It forced me to read a lot of childrens’ books which made me realize what works and what not and it made me want to write more children’s books, which is what I am doing right now. Actually, when I wrote my first children’s book Tururut, that was before I even had a child. That was a challenge. Let’s try it. I did not know at all what kids were looking for. And it worked pretty well. Now I know more.

CK: I think it is amazing that you say this … because you know I love my kids to death, and I know I promised them to write a book one day… but to be honest, I am not much of a childrens’ writer.

SM: I don’t know. This is something. It just came up. There was a point when I felt I had to write for children or for teenagers… I grew up reading a lot of these books, that made a difference to me… And I read these books and they meant a lot to me. We wrote Ullals. And then Hipnòfobia. And they all landed in the crossover section without ever been written for kids. We never thought it was a teenager book. So then, I thought: Let’s tried to do a proper teenager book. Maybe, I was almost like pushed into the teenage fiction. And I am happy, it’s fun. When you think about it, writing children’s book. It is the appeal of doing things differently. You do things a little bit differently, to discover. Also… I think it adds some abilities to your arsenal of tools.

CK: Sounds quite martial.

SM: Yeah! (laughs) Learning to write I think. I mean. You have to have a plan or not, whatever. Is something that you have to make an effort. You write the best novel you can for instance. And then, you say, ok, this is as good as I can do right now. So if I want to do better than this, I have to do some exercises, I need to learn. I have to do some exercises. Let’s try different things.

CK: is there something you feel you need to learn, that you need to work on now, something ?

SM: Uh, yeah. For my next novel for adults, I have in my head…. I need to have three strong female characters. So far, all my female characters in my novels have been femme fatals. That’s the sort of a model I like. So, all my girls have been bad girls. Who always eventually betray the main character. The characters are well worked in my stories too but I want to write something different. I never wrote a female character in the long run that does anything else beyond the femme fatale. I need to train that.

CK: That is quite mono-dimensional.

SM: I never wrote a female character … I need to do some training. I try to get to a female side of my writing… try to get in touch with my feminine part of my character. Maybe make them somewhat stronger. Well, actually. They are actually strong. Maybe a different type of strong female character.

CK: In what way is Valentina a femme fatale?

SM: Maybe Valentina is the least femme fatale of those.

CK: I think she is a buddy.

SM: Valentina is very masculine in that sense, she is a classic hero. It could easily be a guy and it would work in the same sense.

CK: She reminded me very much of TANK GIRL. A comic I used to love.

SM: Tank girl is also… yes, actually. Tank girl is like a male character in a female shape.

CK: Actually, she is a bit.. a prototype… I don’t want to say lesbian… (SM laughs) but she goes into that direction.

SM: Yeah, in a way, Valentina goes into that direction… She has that sort of masculine template to start with. The few that show up in HIPNOFOBIA: there are very few girls in Hipno, but the few ones are all femme fatales and definitely in… in EL REI DEL MON… The girls in there are all femme fatales…

CK: In REI DEL MON it was really obvious… But that’s another one, I also think it was totally underrated. That’s another novel: I really liked it. I really liked it a lot.

SM: Thank you. Not really a lot of people even read it. So, yeah. I liked to do things a little bit different. I liked the idea of a main carácter, the female carácter, being so, well, so… femme fatale.

CK: Well maybe, it is a pattern you want to continue. If it is something you like. Why not? You don’t have to force yourself to have the good girl. Maybe that’s just boring. I like my characters to be a little bit bad …

SM: I agree with you. But I already had the femme fatale and I’m not going to repeat it one more time. The next character is going to be a bad character, but a little bit different. I was trying to develop more of that in that sense. Hipnofobia for instance for me was a playground to try out different approaches… I liked to write in the present tense. First or third person. So in Hipnofobia… I was trying to write all from the different perspectives: past, present, first, third person, explore different perspectives, … It was like a patchwork of different stories… It was defined to be a testing ground of things I want to do in the future… See how this works or not. Eventually, I managed to put it together in a novel. It started with “let me try out different things”. The bottom line of it is that …

CK: you always want to try out new things.

SM: … the bottom line is when i write I want to put myself in a situation that is not comfortable for me, so let’s try to do something that I’ve never done before, so that I have to force myself… For me, that’s the only way to learn. So I want to write as good as I can, I want to keep learning. I would not put myself in a situation where I repeat myself. That would not allow me to grow. I know that I still have a lot to learn as a writer. Let’s put me in a corner and see how I work there. That’s why I always force myself to do something I never done before. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But from all these experiences you learn. You come up a better writer.

CK: What would be the situation, say if we had a time machine? We put you in there, and you come out twenty years later. What would Salvador Macip say then, looking back on the past twenty years?

SM: Well, I hope that I can be proud of what I wrote and published and that I stayed true to my principles of trying to write books that are a little bit different. (…) There are going to be some good books, obviously some bad books. But hopefully they are going to be all different, interesting. You may like them or not, but still they’d all still have a value… He tried to do something different there. I hope in the next 20 years, I can keep on doing that. I am not really worried about making a lot of money, or anything. I am more interested in

CK: … developing your skills.

SM: yeah exactly… Being true to my target of becoming a better writer. Eventually write as good as I can, tell the best stories I can. If I am appreciated by ten people, fine, if there are one hundred people, it’s better, if it’s ten thousand, even better, but that’s not really what I am worried about now. I try to be the best writer I can and try to write the books that I consider to be good books, or well books that I would personally enjoy reading. But it does not necessarily mean that everybody else would. But at least people that would like the books I like would appreciate them. Hopefully they would enjoy that too…

CK: Alright. I have one question which always intrigues me. Which books are currently stacked up on your bedside table right now?

SM: I have a lot of books. I have due to my attention deficit I can’t just read one book… Well, there is Nicholson Baker for starters…

CK: Oh yeah, I know him. He wrote VOX.

SM: Yeah, vox is what he became famous for. Then there is “The fermata”. Very interesting. Very weird sex story. Very quirky, that’s why I like him. So that one. And then Bioko from Marc Pastor. Quite an interesting story.

CK: The same day you posted that picture of yourself on the beach, that very same day I was at Gilgamesh and I
actually bought myself a signed copy from Bioko. Wow! That was kind of spooky.

SM: Good. Very good. Slow beginning but then…

CK: What else?

SM: A book on death… The writer is someone who first wrote for the New Yorker. He wrote a few articles on death. He was dying from cancer… about death… I am just beginning it but it is quite powerful. Obviously, cos the guy is going through some extreme experiences. Then there is this book, I forgot the name, it is a guy from Jugoslavia that’s got the Nobel Prize. It’s been translated recently. It’s called “…” Don’t know. About some guy locked up in prison. In Turkey actually.

CK: Is it a political book?

SM: NO, basically it is about being locked up. It is this very strange prison. Basically it is about being locked up. Then I have some comic books next to it. It’s very complicated. I really like to read very different things. Here again, the same that applies. What goes for writing, goes for reading. I really want to read so many different things. It just bores me to read the same things over and over again.

We should really wrap up in five minutes.

CK: OK.

SM: Do you have any more pressing questions?

CK: No.

The interview was held on July 11th, 2013. The day it rained cats and dogs in Barcelona.
—–
CK: Thank you so much Salvador Macip! It has been so much fun doing the interview with you, and definitely so worthwhile. Pleasure!

20130712_134035

Badass girls rule!

Badass girls rule!

The title might sound a bit juvenile to some but I need to come clean. I have a question. Why are not more people badass? Why can’t I be bothered with non-badass style?

Ok, science and fact books are exempted. I am talking fiction and fiction only here.

I came to notice that the authors I do tend to read and like to re-read are essential badass guys.

– E.A. Poe – William Shakespeare – Charles Baudelaire – Arthur Rimbaud

There are heaps more and also quite a number of more recent ones and this whole post would be pretty tiring if I started enumerating them but it really struck me why I get such a kick from desasters, chaos, mayhem, destruction and real bad story endings. Why instead don’t I feel the same intensity and need to reach for serene books, for happy endings, for nice, politically correct people, for something light, for something that does not end in death or in chaos, or in both, for that matter.

Triggered by a friend’s post (http://networkedblogs.com/Htmkc), I thought about which books we get to read in our lives, and which ones we happily skip reading and why we choose them. I guess, after all, when you take off the mask of being more or less academic and the natural question of whether or not you like a certain style of writing,… you end up with what?

Yes, that’s right. It’s a purely biological question. You end up with the same choice as on the playground, at school or at uni or at work: Are you going to be enchanted and swayed by the cultivated and silent guy with the sweet smile or are you deep down a little bitch, yourself a little badass (guy or girl) who wishes for something darker, something a little menacing, with a little bit animal inside?

The kind of guy who is not such good marriage material and who you’d rather seeing and enjoying for a short while, have the time of your life, and cry when he’s gone. Ok, ok, I got you. The one who is cultivated and clean, that’s the guy you date, you present your parents with, the one you keep at home. The other one that’s the one who have the dirty dreams about. I totally get it.

In fact, it is not so uncommon at all. You don’t have to be ashamed to have made this decision. And that is so understandable. Cos when you have kids, you need someone reliable, plus in the current climate and the world pretty much being a pretty fucked up place, you’d rather just muse about than head for the badass guy in real life. That could be pretty tiresome.

So, what are we after all? Cowards? Dreamers? Sentimental beings who always want what they can’t have? Are we simply acting according to a great master plan, being the cornerstone of the mere biological necessity of reproduction, that lets us women believe that the badass guy will be a good breeder (sorry guys), and that the good guy would physically not come close to the animal?

Hmm, tricky question that one. I guess that is something I cannot entirely answer myself. Of course, we are governed by biology, but there is also the intellect and some other factors which make this whole match-making thing all the more exciting. Plus there is always the chance of development.

I guess you c-a-n eat the cookie and keep it, but that’s another story. Let’s stick to topic.

I don’t know. To be perfectly honest, I do believe that we – both men and women – are really way more biologically governed, and way more badass than some of us care to believe. Deep down inside, there is this want for something raw, something essential and archaic. Something you lose your breath for, something that keeps you panting. That lets you smile because you hardly have the power to turn over after having had the sex of your life, because you just gave it all and feel totally wasted and empty.

So what’s the story?

The recent heyday of books like “50 shades of grey” is a nightmare, no, sorry, it is just one of these polished books that I refuse to read. Even held at gunpoint, I would not read it. Well, ok that one might do it, but still. Nothing I believe in will make me read it voluntarily. Not because it is “too dirty”, not because I would be “shocked”. No, I can safely rule that one out, as far as I am concerned. I just can’t be bothered. I just don’t like books which have been hyped too strong. And 50 shades of grey seems to belong into the category “one size fits all”. Well, let me tell you what. It ain’t.

I read a lot. A lot. And a lot of different books. What I do like is when sex is a minor character, when sex comes in as a kind of bonus, something unaccounted for, something casual. Something that happens and where you are utterly led astray. When I read a sex scene, which I would love to do more often, I end up mostly being bitterly disappointed. Some scenes may be too decorated, too rehearsed, to fancy, too overly clean or too kinky-hip… When I read about sex I want things to be worth my while. I want to read about the real thing. I want to be get the feeling, that there are two people (man/woman, man/man, woman/woman, I don’t really care) who are really engaged with one another. The ultimate climax (sorry for the pun…) for me as a reader, but also as an author is that the reader is led to a moment where he/she can imagine something which turns on.

Things can get too visual. Therefore, the treatment of sex in books is something which is difficult to achieve plus a tension which makes the scene believable.

I want to be able to find the words prick, pussy and fuck in a mature and modern way, grown up sex without the excuse of being kinky, and without having to hide like a six-year-old having used a four letter word. I don’t want to be afraid that someone puts a piece of soap in my mouth to have it washed.

Sex is a beautiful thing. So why waste it with the authors who act like mental wankers?

Sex is one of the never-out-of-date and never-out-of-style topics. Why is it so damn hard to get it right in the picture and in the book? We show so much flesh, so much skin in every goddamn commercial, but we get so prudish and Victorian about something that is surely more human than other things that get spread each and every day.

So. Basically, sorry I got carried away for a moment. The main topic: Is badass style something we need and if so, why?

To me, it is a necessity since it is part of human nature. There have always been the good heroes without a flaw, the badass guy, the antihero, the essential lost boy and the lost girl as a topic. If you look at literature, even the most classic ones, you will find it. No doubt. And it does tend to be the badass character, who is more interesting and more three-dimensional.

So, whenever you get to choose, think of my words: The badass character is the more interesting one. The one that lets you dream. The one you lose your tightened grip on reality for a small moment and paints a smile upon your face, thinking what if…

Long live the badass characters. And the authors who are brave enough to create them.

Long live the badass guys and girls out there.

I guess, none of us really thought that this world might come to an end, well, at least not now, not today, and not because some Mayan calendar ends with today’s date.

Well, if truth be told, the weird thing is… I will always remember this date in the future cos it’s been a very special day for me.

In at least two ways: I received truly good news regarding two very important things in my life. And secondly, I finally managed to see that I am overloading myself, pushing myself way too much, and have the urgent wish to downshift quickly so I don’t break down one day. And I made a decision as to which things I am going to deal with first.

Ok, here is the treat I promised 😉

As promised, here is some Hugh Jackman in his first acting role (1995, Australia, Rat’s Tamer, pilot of Correlli mini series). He plays Kevin Jones, a jail inmate who has been beaten up so severely that he suffers from memory loss, amnesia and some mental disorders. He plays the role uncannily well.

Little bit of tittle tattle. The jail psychologist by his side in this clip is his soon to be his (future) wife in real life. Deborah Furness who is 13 years his senior and who was the star of this series. To be honest, they are both very good and very convincing in their respective roles. I just got my Rat’s Tamer dvd and I love him in that series.

The more Hugh Jackman I see, the more addicted I become. He should take on more difficult, conflictive roles again. The Wolverine role is surely well cast but he is such a fine actor and it would be a shame if this talent would come to a standstill by being wasted with one-dimensional characters.

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