marc nash [sulcicollective]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I didn't read as a child. The first proper book I read of my own volition was Albert Camus' "The Outsider" after I was recommended to listen to the song "Killing An Arab" by the Cure and then read the book that had inspired it. I never looked back, so good a read was it. I was always writing as a kid, sports reports, bad poetry, song lyrics. I wrote stage plays at college & for 10 years after. I switched to novels when my twin boys came along & I couldn't hang out in theatres night after night any more. My Mother and Aunt have always read my books and always handed it back and said "that's nice dear", before shaking their heads and asking themselves where they went wrong in my upbringing.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I don't think it terms of genre. To me genre is a diminishing way of thinking about books. It's all fiction right? (other than non-fiction). Did William Burroughs write Science Fiction? Did Jane Austen write Chicklit? There is fiction which looks to engage with the world and fiction which looks to provide escape from it. Both have to entertain first and foremost.
My writing can be found on www.sulcicollective.blogspot.com the opening chapter of my novel http://www.freado.com/book/4062/a-b-e and some of my more experimental works on http://yearzerowriters.wordpress.com/ if you click on my name
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I know I've got a project when I get the voice and the central image. Then I just let it seethe in my mind for 6 months, making the occasional notes but no more than that. When it feels ready, I'll sit down to do that first draft and then pick up momentum and write it fairly quickly. Music is important at this stage, a soundtrack chosen & played on a loop, for the rhythms and to conduct me straight back into the feel of the book each time I resume at the keyboard to write after a break. I usually don't get much sleep, being kept awake by fragments coming to me. After the first draft then it's editing, editing, editing. And no music, I have to concentrate!
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I don't believe people write what I write, so nothing really. That's not to say I don't have favourite books and writers because I do, I just don't try and ape them that's all. Sometimes a word or a juxtaposition of words in a writer's work can send me free-forming back to my own work and write maybe 1000 words inspired by their use of just one or two. That happens a lot. Or things I see in my life can have a similar effect.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
I'm really going to be out on a lim here, because I'm not all that interested in telling stories. But I am interested in storytelling. Why is my main character telling this particular story to these readers? What's their relationship? Why does the character expect/demand to be heard? And why are we trying to approach truth or reality, through fiction, which is by its very nature artifice? I'm quite keen for my readers not to suspend their belief, but always to remind them that they are reading a work of fiction and why it's important that they keep that in mind.
Voice is all important. That the voice is believable, recognisable, the language communicates. My books are more like a conversation.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
First every time. A conversation directly between my main character and the reader. the only question then becomes how much can the reader trust my main character? How reliable are they? How manipulative? Oh what fun we have...
What well known writers do you admire most?
Kafka, Burroughs, Lethem, Selby, Winterson, DeLillo, Selby Jnr, Peace
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
if you get the voice right, if it's someone the reader believes is truly talking to them in a voice consistent with the material of what they have to say, then you are most of the way there. I don't think in terms of character, because I credit character emerges through voice. How a character expresses themselves, how they think and see the world. To me character approached as character invites formulas such as psychoanalytic theories or other writing by numbers or add ons.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Given that I tell stories in an unusual way of not being motivated by story, yes I do. Words are crucial to how I write anyway, plus when I perform (I don't read so much as perform) I really put on a show and try and bring the words to life. O may have a book in hand, but I move and I inflect and I act out my material.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I write books that I would be interested in reading but that in the main don't seem to be out there in the book shops. If I can bring an audience along with me then all the better. I do think there is a readership hungry for something a bit different from the 200 year old form of the novel that has remained largely unchanged. Books need to interrogate our world and our reality if they are going to survive the assault of other entertainment and data forms. Let's make them unique, not the handmaidens of film and TV
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
It is in the sense that it lets me put my frustrations with the world into them rather than take them out on the world. I'm a political writer in that I always seek to challenge received notions of normality and reality, to undermine them and show the myths and illusions they are erected on. But writing is a very indirect form of political action. A bit cowardly even, sniping from the cultural sidelines. But there you go, I'm a passive militant!
Does reader feed-back help you?
I love conversing with readers before, during and after their interaction with my book. I don't believe literature has ever had that unique insight before and I revel in it. I am in awe of social networking!
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
No, the odds are against you. One winner and a couple of runners up. My stuff is too out there to compete in competitions that will always err towards the middle ground for the sake of popularity, or a consensus among a judging panel.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
No. But if I found such a person I would! My wife doesn't even read my published stuff!
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I'm not really interested in my authorial voice, only the voice of each significant character. Having said that, I'm told my style is fairly recognisable through my pursuit of language, so I guess like it or not, I do have a voice.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
No formal ones. I write when I can and when I've built up the momentum to really tear into it. I'm a spree writer! I've long learned not to beat myself up if I don't write for a period. I believe in the art of the possible, you do what you can do. I'm always trying to catch up with my own material and get it down on paper, so I never suffer from writer's block.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Only music really as above. I've taken to writing on my laptop lying on my bed. And they say writing is the new rock and roll? I write a lot in my sleep if that makes any sense. Or really while trying and failing to drop off to sleep. I've trained myself to remember all the stuff that comes to me in the dead of night and can usually reclaim most of it in the morning and get it down.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I make hand written notes, half of which I probably lose cos they're loose leaf. First and all drafts on a laptop. I rarely print out, unless I'm editing on a train or something, when I'll make corrections and then amend on the laptop. I don't have a fixed number of drafts and more often than not I'll be on a third of fourth draft of part of the book, while others are still only in first draft.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
YouWrite On a writer's peer review site, but I only go on the forums now to swap tips, I don't reveiw. I use Twitter a lot to get great heads up and participate in discussions on people's blogs. BubbleCow is good for writers seeking to publish. I don't go a whole lot on writing craft tips because each person's process is unique to them and I'm really not sure how my approach would fit with others. When I have time I will commit my ideas on contemporary fiction to video on YouTube.
What has been your experience with publishers?
Unfailingly business like on both sides and therefore of limited exposure! I'm never going to make anyone a bucket load of cash, so am not really going to be much of a proposition commercially. I'm cool with that & they're just cool.
What are you working on now?
Converting my paper novel into Kindle, plus an unpublished novel, plus 52 peices of flash fiction written one a week for a year. Then back to my genre anti-genre novel which is in second draft stage. And one day back to my great theoretical work which may just be unpublishable, we'll have to wait and see - I've written about 40,000 words of that one.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Pick out the really good bits and find a new home for them in your current works! Never, ever throw anything away. All it needs is some reworking.