Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Q&A with E.P. Rose

Today on the blog is E.P. Rose. These are some great answers I am looking forward to reading the book.

The Conspiracy kid by E.P. Rose

A sonnet is penned and, lo, the Conspiracy Kid Fan Club is born. Beware. To read this sonnet is to join the Club. Membership is automatic and irreversible.

This is the story of the earliest unwitting Conspiracy Kid Fan Club members: Edwin Mars (poet), Joe Claude (billionaire), Walter Cornelius (werewolf), Muriel Cohen (chef), Ewan Hoozarmi (artist), to name but a few.

Where to buy:
Waterstones and all good bookstores.


Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?
I think what I’ll do is start with the reality and then see what needs to be improved to achieve perfection. So, here I am in my “writing space”, or office as I call it, above Sonny’s Kitchen in Barnes. Writing over restaurants has a lot to recommend it: food-, alcohol-, caffeine- and people-watching-wise. And there’s a floor between me and the bar, so it’s quiet. Silence is important. There is a bit of a traffic rumble, but that’s OK. Proust wouldn’t like it. You will recall that Proust wrote in his bedroom, which he had lined with cork, so as to obliterate all incoming sounds from the Boulevard Haussmann. You can actually see a recreation of Proust’s bedroom at the Carnavelet Museum in Paris. It’s quite horrible, but maybe that was the point. If the d├ęcor is sufficiently ghastly, you have to create an alternative imaginary world. So there Proust stayed in bed and wrote his masterpiece. I like to get up and get dressed and walk to work – and that’s what I do.

I have a table and a swivel chair and a beaten up leather club chair, which is very good for snoozes, and masses of mess, which in an ideal world would be organised and removed by someone else. There’s not much of a view, but the blinds are permanently drawn anyway. When I’m writing, the only views I’m interested in are those inside my head.

Ideally, the rumble of traffic should be replaced with the ocean’s soothing roar. I suffer from tinnitus and the sound of surf is perfectly pitched to alleviate this affliction. Ideally, then, we’re moving to the sea-side, and when I want a breath of fresh air, I can step out onto the sand and trudge down to the water’s edge and paddle and plunge into the breakers and, hopefully, not be eaten by a shark.

What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about?
The first story I remember writing was something called The Ivy Mantled Tower. The title was, I think, given. It was for a writing competition at my school. I must have been thirteen or fourteen. I remember that I had been reading Chrome Yellow by Aldous Huxley, and this story of mine, The Ivy Mantled Tower, was written in that style. It was probably unspeakably awful, but I, of course, thought it was unbelievably brilliant and I distinctly remember being incredibly irked, when I didn’t win. What was it about? I have a feeling it may have been somewhat influenced by D.H.Lawrence’s The Man Who Loved Islands, a story with which at the time I was particularly taken, still am for that matter. The Man Who Loved Islands concerns a man who retreats from life, moving from island to island, and with each move the island becomes ever smaller and ever more remote. So I guess my Ivy Mantled Tower tale may well have concerned a man who retreated into architectural structures which became increasingly tall and remote. I say “may have been” because, to be perfectly honest, I can’t actually remember. I just have an inkling. I certainly don’t remember anything at all about Chrome Yellow, other than a flavour of extreme Englishness. So there you are, The Ivy Mantled Tower, inspired by Aldous Huxley and D.H.Lawrence. What an intolerable tick I must have been. It’s a wonder I wasn’t expunged.

Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable?
Peter Pan. I suppose I must have been something like six when I first encountered Peter Pan. I still have that copy – hardback, pale blue. And on the back cover, I wrote in ink what the story is about. This is one of my earliest childhood memories. I distinctly remember taking a paint brush and dipping the hard non-brush end in some ink and writing on the back cover in a spidery and splodgy hand: “This is the story of the Darling children Wendy, John, and Michael; of Peter Pan, the boy who didn’t want to grow up, and Tinker bell, the fairy.” I knew it was a naughty thing to do, but I did it anyway and damn the consequences. This, by the way, took place in the nursery of our apartment in Berkeley Court, which is where Joe Claude lives in The Conspiracy Kid. I lived there till I was eight.

Why is Peter Pan memorable? My goodness, what a question. You have to ask? He can fly. He can lose his shadow. He is tragic. He is heroic. He is a loner, looking for love. He is, well, he is the archetypal, prototypical, original superhero, preceding Superman and the Silver Surfer by years. Well, come to think of it, not that many years. Barrie wrote Peter Pan in 1902 and Superman was born in 1933. Twenty-one years. You know, I’ve never thought of this before, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Peter Pan and the Conspiracy Kid were related, probably cousins, several times removed.

If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?
I’d very much like to have a word with whoever wrote St.John’s gospel. Historically, it seems to have been written in three stages and to have passed through a number of authorial hands - but for the purposes of this question, let us imagine that there was just the one John and that he wrote that gospel from start to finish. I would like to show him Edwin Mars’s Doubting Thomas sonnet and ask him to comment thereupon. You know, it’s the one that begins: “Where would we be without Doubting Thomas, the most important person in the book, written in to take our doubting from us …….” (Here’s a link to it: http://edwinmars.com/page27.html) I think I’m right in saying that Doubting Thomas, or Didymus, Doubting Didymus, only appears in John’s gospel. Whether you take it as gospel or not, the New Testament is still, let’s face it, if not the greatest story ever told, certainly one of the principal contenders for that title. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to talk to one of its writers?

If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?
Let me think now. I tend to write about the world I inhabit. I mean, on the whole, the characters about which I write come from my world, the world I know best. So, to be perfectly frank, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the fictional and the factual E.P.Roseland – except of course for the fact that in the fictional world, you tend on the whole to be dealing with characters who are experiencing some kind of crisis, because that’s what makes an interesting story, whereas in the real world, crises are things I tend to try to avoid, if at all possible.  

What is the one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing?
Cooking. I like to cook. The current obsession is butter beans, enormous Spanish butter beans, called gigantes. If you’re keen on butter beans, you will love these. Butter beans with chicken and chorizo – that’s my dish of the moment. I bought several kilos of these beans on a recent trio to Madrid (see E.P.ROSE GOES to Madrid http://ow.ly/qW8Zf) and we’re now working our way through them. I will, if I may, pass on to you one piece of hard-earned wisdom. I plucked one of these beans from the pressure cooker in which it had been boiling and tested it for doneness by biting into it – and a vicious stream of boiling water shot out and burnt my lip, leaving me with an extremely unpleasant scab, which was open to serious misinterpretation. So bear this in mind, if you want to check a gigante, place it on a board, cut it in half and squish any water out before biting into it – better safe than sore-y.

What are you currently working on?
The book I am currently writing is about an extremely successful children’s author, who inveigles a young woman into writing his biography. It is inspired by a couple of years in my life which I spent with Lionel Bart, supposedly writing his biography. This story – working title “MEE & I” – is written in the first person by the young lady in question, so I am being a woman, which is very interesting. It ranges from the cut-throat drawing-rooms of literary London to an idyllic Mexican beach – well it would be perfect, if it weren’t for the sharks and the snakes and the scorpions and the alligators, oh, 
and the psycho Mexican drug lord who decides that our heroine is the woman of his dreams.

Author bio: 
E.P.ROSE lives in London, England, with his restaurateur wife, various daughters, a dog called Frank and a cat called Wednesday.

Where to find him:
Twitter: @tweeteprose

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