This is my response to the Sunshine Blogger Award, nominated by EF Russell over at Piss, Coffee and Vinegar. There’s something nicely ironic about a vampiric blog being nominated for a Sunshine Award.
The first thing I do, (the obligatory award obligations) is thank EF Russell for
nominating me with this accolade, then once I’ve answered the questions nominate eleven others. As I don’t know eleven people who haven’t received this award I’ll have to give that a miss, but if you haven’t been nominated let me know in the comments section and I’ll single you out.
The questions then.
1) If you had to survive on one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That’s an easy question. Crisps. (Potato chips to all you foreigners.) Every meal of the day is covered. Bacon for breakfast, cheese and onion for dinner and a choice of beef or roast chicken for tea.
2) What’s more important in a story: character, plot, or voice?
I would say voice is the one thing that makes me read a book. They’re all equally important, but the voice can make mundane plots interesting and dull characters become impossible to ignore. A simple example; a story about the nephew of a man who wins the lottery. The nephew lives in a flat with his girlfriend and their baby. I wouldn’t normally touch a story like that with a bargepole, but I’m describing Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis and its his voice that draws me to his writing. No other living author has a voice like Amis.
3) What’s the first book you remember being deeply affected by?
There were a few books I devoured as a child, such as the Thomas the Tank Engine stories, and a book called Filbert Builds a Boat was read more than once. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a big deal when it was read to us at school, and I was more interested in the Chronicles of Narnia than Lord of the Rings.
But if there’s one book that affected me it must be a non-fiction book called The Supernatural. It was being thrown out by my Uncle Jimmy, wasn’t a child’s book and was very authoritative on subjects as diverse as ghosts, witchcraft, rituals and pagan belief. It has inspired my interests and writing to this day.
4) How important is good grammar in a novel to you?
On one level I think it’s essential, not as a communication tool, but as an indicator of how lazy a person is. Someone who says grammar isn’t important probably doesn’t think it’s important because they can’t be arsed learning how to use it properly.
In fiction, grammar is related to point of view which is related to the protagonist. In that respect grammar can reflect the intellectual level of the protagonist, but the author must still be aware of what they’re doing and how they’re manipulating words.
5) Would you rather get blackout drunk in front of
A) Your mother-in-law, or
B) Your boss?
My mother-in-law because I’d love to see the look on her face when she discovers I’m not married.
6) In honor of the season, tell me one good memory you have about Halloween as a child. (The first year I was diabetic for Halloween, my dad traded me my candy for a guitar. My dad is, obviously, very cool.)
I can’t think of any memories at all relating to Halloween. When you’re interested in the paranormal every night is like Halloween! I can remember the ghost stories and uncanny tales we told each other when we were out at night. The discovery of Satanic images on the inside walls of a mechanic’s workshop near our school. Our attempts to summon the Devil behind the community centre and ending up summoning the caretaker instead. (Or we assumed he was the caretaker…)
7) One word or phrase that really annoys you.
‘First world problem.’ Ask me about something that annoys me and I will descend into a rant of apocalyptic proportions. Whenever I see ‘first world problem’ left on a forum or amongst the comments of a newspaper I get a mental image of some trendy young twat gobbling the last dregs of his yoghurt, pausing for a minute to type ‘first world problem’ and going back to his yoghurt.
It’s a form of dismissal, an act of apathetic disregard and contributes nothing to a discussion. It blithely assumes that people in the affluent west are not entitled to have a problem and that the person leaving the comment is so pure and chaste they will never complain so long as there are babies starving in Africa. They want the conversation to stop and deal with something they are interested in because they are centre of the known universe. In my novel Who Among Us… a character describes this ‘Yoghurt Pot Man’ and concludes by saying they’re only capable of leaving their mark by pissing on everything they come across.
8) Give me five single words that describe your writing style.
Improving. Irreverent. Confused. Angry. Daft.
9) What’s the best part of an average day for you?
Some people read in bed before they go to sleep. That’s the time when I watch things on my laptop. Films, tv shows, concerts. With crisps, chocolate, pop and sometimes a single malt, it’s the only time of the day when I can shut out the rest of the world and disappear.
10) If you’re writing, somebody somewhere encouraged you to do it. Who?
I’ve always created things, whether it was Meccano, Lego, Sticklebricks, Airfix, drawing, painting, making things with balsa wood. . . . Writing was another form of creation. No one encouraged me that I can think of. Teachers were hopeless, family were obsessed with arguing with one another, friends were flabbergasted because one page of homework was an epic; writing a twenty-one page ‘novel’ was unheard of when you were eleven years old.
11) What makes you decide a story is bad?
Dull writing. It goes back to question 2. The author has no flare, there’s nothing different about their style, the structure is writing-by-numbers and in the end you just don’t care what happens to anyone because they’re nothing more than ink or pixels on a page.
NOTE: At this point the rules say I should nominate eleven other bloggers and provide eleven questions for them to answer in their ‘acceptance speech.’ But I’m not going to do that, instead I’m going to nominate eleven bloggers and let you readers go there and discover what their great blogs are all about. No questions asked. In no particular order..
Express Elevator to Hell
Nicholas C Rossis
That’s fifteen, I’d better stop there.