logoThrough the white noise of twitter popped a submission request. A Fanzine! The scrolling brakes took hold. A week later, a brown package is slipped under my door. Paper and Ink, bright white and dangerous with it’s threat of stained fingers and paper cuts. Now, in its third issue, I’m pleased I took a chance to see just what kind of writers, a nerdy punk boxing fan from England had fused.

paper 2So Martin you really love zines?

I do, it’s actually bordering on obsession. I end up buying so many that it’s difficult to find the time to read them all, not to mention a place to store them all. I keep telling my girlfriend that we need to get a bigger place so that I can have my own dedicated zine library, but she’s not so keen on the idea.

Can you remember which fanzine first gave you the paperlust?

I can, and oddly it wasn’t a fanzine but a novel – Tales of a Punk Rock Nothing by Abram Shalom Himelstein and Jamie Schweser. It is about a kid from Tennessee who moves to DC in the early 90’s and hangs out with punks and feminists etc. The story is told through letters, journal entries and fanzines. It’s a brilliant read and inspired me to see if there were any punk zines being produced in the city I lived in at the time. It all escalated from there really.

As a lover of the fanzine as well, I understand the addiction. It was early punk zines that got me hooked. Wish I still had my old boyfriends 48 Thrills and Sniffin Glue, loved them. We had a real zine scene here in Australia. Some are a little too professional looking these days, though, is it my imagination, or does there seem to be a resurgence of them?

(… or maybe they have never gone away and I’m just suddenly noticing the world around me again, ha!)

It’s hard to say really, I tend to lean towards lit zines myself and there seem to be new ones popping up all the time, which is really great. But like you say, I don’t know if that is due to a resurgence or if I just wasn’t paying attention before.

Having dabbled in fanzine culture myself, I understand the thrill of it. The content control, the images and where to distribute. First fanzine, I was involved in was to do with music. We couldn’t afford a computer, we bashed old typewriters and cut out words and images like serial killers from newspapers and made them fit. The layout of fanzines and the finished product felt like a work of art. Something so tactile, when you picked them up they had the most amazing energy. Editorial, music reviews, sweaty frontline descriptions of live gigs, just stupid irreverence. We didn’t care about copyright, or if anyone would like it. Fuck was a punctuation mark and we’d tell it like it is, share the obscure. We also gave them out for free, left them on park benches, buses, libraries, after gigs. It’s a great feeling when punters started to look out for you to make sure they got the next edition. Fanzines have a rich history and rebellious backbone don’t you think?

Oh, absolutely. That’s what I love about them – the complete creative control, you can say what you want, about whatever subject you want. Zines are not sales driven, it’s not about numbers or profit margins, they’re all about the love- about exposing people to new or different ideas and to artists or writers they may otherwise never come across. They are the antithesis of government controlled media and publishing houses that will only ever play it safe.

You’ll find more truth, wisdom and originality in an A5 stapled hand job than anything mainstream media are dishing us, that’s been a constant. We need to be reminded cause they’ll seduce, brainwash and guide your life in a blink.

paper 1

So pleased I discovered your little literary empire. Your Paper and Ink fanzines have been living in my bag this past week, pulled out at all hours and devoured. They have that do-it-yourself edge, hand drawn original cover art and great fonts to differentiate the stories and brighten the eyes.

It is really important to me that each piece has a unique look to it. I think that is what separates us from most other lit zines that I have encountered. They tend to all follow a uniform format, which is fine, but I like to give each piece a different feel. The only downside to doing that is that it takes quite a while to put the whole thing together- lots of time spent trawling through fonts, trying to find one that fits. It’s all worth it in the end though.

How do you distribute your zine? Are you finding more interest out in specialist shops willing to stock your passion?

Currently I mainly distribute it only through websites such as Etsy and Big Cartel. However I am in the process of building my own website so I can sell it completely independently through that. As for specialist shops, I have never really contacted any shops about selling it. I wanted to build up a bit of a back catalogue before I do that. Although I know from speaking to other lit zine editors that getting shops to stock zines is easier said than done, but I’ll give it a go.

You say you also started your zine because of your dislike of e readers. Us page turners and lovers of the physical may very well be a dying breed. Like vinyl, the printed word is a niche market, full of childhood memories, leafing through watching words on a page. Is it purely romanticising, the notion of paper and ink and the aesthetic qualities of it? Why are words on physical paper so important to you?

I think in most cases of digital formats replacing physical formats there is an obvious improvement of quality or accessibility – Sound quality on a digital music file (can be) better than that of vinyl, streaming a film in HD is essentially the exact same experience as watching a blu-ray but without the need for a physical item – however with e-readers, where is the improvement? Okay, you can carry 100s of books around with you at any time, but who actually needs that many books with them at all times?! I think it just leads to people starting multiple books and never finishing any of them. 

Yes, totally agree. At least with a physical book you know exactly how much devotion you need to complete it. Digital approximations are frustrating and too much temptation to give up when your attention is waning.20141021_194116

For me personally, so much of my time is spent staring at screens, I don’t feel that my life would benefit from another one. There is a fantastic photograph circling the internet that shows somebody using a kindle as a bookmark, and in my opinion, that is all those grey slabs of plastic are good for. And just as an aside, the smell of brand new books is my favourite smell in the world. All the different types of paper and inks, I love it- sometimes I go into book shops just to have a sniff. Ha!

Equally snortable the dust of years and the freshly pressed. My copies of Paper and Ink are already dog-eared and beaten.

Paper and Ink will NEVER go digital.

Your first issue was over a year ago and centered on Heartbreak – Broken Hearts and Broken Bottles, how did you rally your first batch of writers?

A couple of the writers featured in that first issue are friends of mine (Anthony Macina and Paul Martin) and the rest were just writers that I knew of and liked. I e-mailed them and asked if I could use some of their work and they kindly agreed. With the most recent issues there has been a little bit of reaching out to writers, but it is more a case of putting out the call for submissions on social media and waiting for responses. I am really excited about the next couple of issues actually, I’m getting some really great stuff landing in my inbox.

What triggered your first topic choice?

I have always been a sucker for stories of lost love and crushing heartbreak and the strongest emotions I have experienced in my life have come as a direct result of my heart being crushed. Also, at the time that I decided to create the zine I had just been broken up with so it seemed fitting.

Chris Eng’s Questioningly is a perfect start, completely real, I loved its awkwardness and gestures. Asking when do you start believing that love is real, but even better was where this short story ended, it perfectly answered it’s own title.

Man, I love that story. Chris is such a great writer. That ending hits me like a sledge hammer every single time I read it. I’m not usually one to well up or get teary but that story brings me close.

Akua Mercy is exceptional and beautifully bitter. You’ve chosen writers that have doses of romantic cynicism they seem to have been battered, tormented and burnt by love. I think all of these pieces hurt. William James’ Kids Like Us Will Be Alone Forever and Anthony Macina’s The Breeze was the closest I came to tearing up. These are wonderful writers to get to know.

I am really proud of that first issue, all the writers are fantastic. I always think back on issue #1 as testing the water, so to speak, and that issues #2 and 3 are much better, but then when I actually re-read issue #1 I realise that it was pretty damn good. Kids Like Us Will Be Alone Forever is one of my favourite poems of all time. 

You also use different cover designers, do you look for submissions in cover illustrations as well as words?

I am always on the lookout for submissions of all kinds, the next issue (#4) will even feature some photography which is a first for Paper and Ink. I am lucky enough that I happen to know a lot of very talented artists and illustrators and so far, all but one of the cover illustrations have come from people I know that I have reached out to.

As a fan of the fanzine, what are some of the best literary ones out there, (besides your own of course). That you regularly follow?

There are some really fantastic lit zines out there. Just in the UK alone you have PUSH which actually launched in the same month as Paper and Ink, however they just put out their 13th issue. The work ethic of editor Joe England is incredible. He sells the zines outside football matches, and shifts a bucket load of them! Then there is Hand Job which launched last year as well. It is a real old school cut and paste zine which features some fantastic writers. There is a lot of crossover in the contributors between our three zines and a real community spirit between us. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we all appeared at around the same time- we’re all fighting the same fight.

The second and third issues Home and Destination Unknown are exponentially gaining thickness.

Like I said earlier, I always saw issue #1 as just ‘testing the water’. I knew that if it went well and people responded to it I would go bigger and better, and that philosophy will continue with future issues. Issue #4 is going to be a bumper one! The theme of which is ‘identity’ and I have had some fantastic submissions so far. 

So you’re getting some good feedback and interest in your zine?

The feedback has been incredible. When I released the first issue I was worried that no one would be interested and I’d be stuck with piles of zines that I couldn’t shift but that wasn’t a problem at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly about to give up my day job, but the response has been great. I’m just happy that I can give unknown and up and coming writers a platform to showcase their work, that’s the best feeling in the world.

What is the next submission topic and how does one get involved?

The theme of the next issue is ‘identity’ and the deadline for submissions is 1st December so there is still plenty of time for people to get involved. I’m looking for short stories, flash fiction and poetry of no longer than 1500 words and illustrations in black and white only.

Just send them along to

New Website!

you can connect with martin via Twitter and visit his blog

In The Middle Of Somewhere

Poetry Collection

by J. Matthew Waters

Sundays and poetry go so well together. Traditionally, the mornings are spent in some sort of recline. Music, coffee and words to rise to is my standard pattern. Poets personal points of view are intriguing to decipher. Trapped inside cryptic puzzles to piece and unravel. You find out a lot about the poet not only through their work but through their websites and interaction on social media. You can tell J Matthew Waters is passionate about his creations. You’ll always find him sharing his and others via Twitter and I always look forward to see what he has discovered.

I often know nothing about the author till after I read their work. I find this process is fun, their life maps inside chapters help me discover where the poet comes from. I prefer clues to what has shaped them to write what they write, decipher fact from fiction that I find in lines. I discovered he is American, he gardens, has a family and seems very happy and comfortable. You read some of J’s pieces over and over, as only the Poet themselves know the truth and motivation of a poem. In between is where I make my conclusions. Reading In The Middle Of Somewhere definitely got me thinking.

This is the third time I have dipped in and out of this collection. Each time my opinions change, new feelings surface and so does my enjoyment. A perfect beginning. Shadow starts his reminiscence of our instincts and innocence. He then leads into more historical pieces, transporting us back and inside tragedies, celebrating courage and helplessness. These pieces induce a melancholia but his respect soothes with composure and sentiment “like a sequestered historian I recounted events once lost to yellowed and misplaced manuscripts

I enjoy his pieces on the poetic process. Once In San Antoine and Unrealistic Haiku Expectations, when beauty and meaning is found in the method, here is where we get a breath of his humour. His holiday poetry is delightful, exotic destinations experienced and imagined. You scan his view, walk in his insightful shoes. Nothing But A Vestigial Drawing reveals another passion “A thousand miles from here viewing gardens I had been meaning to plant, I sit and sketch” His love of nature blooms, Watching A Petal a wondrous reflection, “a soft, geranium petal strained to reach the four o’clock sun” Reading J Matthew Waters is a peaceful experience. Reunion and old age, time and memory, life becomes an echo, reminding us that one’s existence is a blink in a moment. Some subjects show age, spooning corks from bottle caps a little clue to era. Poems about leprechauns, ancestry, drinking, love and narcolepsy. Close to my heart is Irresistible Force as “The fox in the sky wanders by day, the universe his playing field” I stretch and relax into a dappled sun having enjoyed yet another poetic devotee.

J. Matthew Waters collection, In The Middle Of Somewhere and other poetic works can be found via

You can connect with him via Twitter



My Writing Process Blog Tour

Many thanks to author Craig McGray for plucking me out of the ether and inviting me onto the My Writing Process grand tour of the universe! I’ve found myself alongside three damn exciting writers of the dark stuff including the deadly beauty of Magenta Nero and the yet to be devoured Dylan J Morgan . My host, horror writer Craig McGray certainly has a gift for gore. His short black tales that I have read, are served with a sinister spoon of smirk. Images projecting themselves into my head forever. One in particular, I just can’t seem to erase it – that’s a sign of good writing in my book.

the blogCraig is also a member of the eclectic horror writer collective

Pen Of The Damned. I’ve discovered so many mischievous minds over at Damned HQ. One of the best crew of misfits I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Psyches bleed endless plots of sordid mayhem, their imaginations a shiver on the page. Joseph S Pinto and Nina D’Arcangela, like strong brass gothic bookends hold the group together, coaxing mischief from it’s members and reveling in the craft of storytelling.

You should have a stroll yourself through his shadow land via and

The baton is passed and I am ready to run.

What Am I working on

I am many hands clasping, a hundred arms pulling. Absorbing too many projects at once – it will surely be my downfall but I am The Hungry Fox. So here are a few I have in the pipeline. There is such a backlog of pieces I’m itching to review. I tend to concentrate on Indie writers especially those I find via Twitter. My blog is a magazine of sorts. Collaborating, sharing and promoting. It is my engine room, a replication of myself and a record of what I am enjoying, the new creatives I am meeting and a place to dabble in my own creative pieces. Soon I will be launching my book narration project with two erotica pieces in the works. The next couple of months will see me in lock down collaborating on a horror release with an American horror author.

How does my work differ from others of its genre

Well I think my eclecticism makes me different especially for a one mind operation. Very soon my blog will be getting a fresh lick of paint, and I feel like I finally know exactly how I want it to work. It will link out to seven or eight seperate blogs, each covering different genres from erotica to music, art to horror. Then there is my own writing and collaborations. The Mistress & Evangeline is one of my favourites , erotica set in Montmartre Paris during the 1930’s.M& V Promo

Theirs is a surreal world linked to the Dadaists. Mistress is an importer of fine materials, her lover Evangeline is prone to fever dreams that become real and a cat who is the reincarnation of the writer Voltaire. They are quite unique and I will channel volumes from their magical minds and unleash them into their own novel next year.

Why do I write what I do

My background is in music journalism and publishing. I was a reviewer, sub editor and proof reader for over ten years. Unfortunately a lot of print media was brought to it’s knees in the 90’s, a very sad tale for a printer’s daughter. My whole life was spent around ink and paper, books and printing an obsession. I remember asking my father if he printed money. He said he could if he wanted to, but he’d rather print books. I played on a factory floor watching led drip composition, reams of exotic paper to draw on. My dad’s fingers so sensitive to the weight and textures he could differentiate with his eye’s closed and a fingertip. Our family was absorbed in what many now would consider ancient processes. It was my grandfathers artistry and his father before him. It is definitely in my blood.

Life and art for me is a constant process of replicating yourself, so what I write about, photograph, reveal is as linked and unique as a string of dna. My heart and mind laid out for all to see, the challenge for me is to reveal far more than I would ever expect myself to do, a personal evolution, mutation whatever. My writing style is quite ornate, I love to delve into the dark with lust and humour. I believe I am an acquired taste. I never take myself too seriously, I’m not searching for meaning, just experience.

How does my writing process work?

It’s amazing what playing with knives all day does to ones imagination. This is where my writing process starts, in my day dreams. My little gang of inner writers take over – though, sometimes they would rather sit in a deck chair on the Riviera – they usually keep my mind on the ball and creative juices flowing. When they are switched on, I literally have no control. I love researching, so when I review, interview or write a story that’s usually where I start. Reviews become word puzzles for me, a plethora of flowery arranged thoughts.

When it comes to choosing a new writer or artist to highlight it usually is a case of good timing, what just happens to fall in my lap. Sometimes I abandoned certain works because of time factors, afraid I cannot give it the full attention it needs. Though eventually everything I have purchased and read tends to get some feedback, support or the full Foxton treatment. I enjoy being asked to review and I am always on the hunt.

I follow and support many bloggers, but it is such a pleasure to introduce you to three of my favourites. I thank James, David and Trevor for taking part and look forward to reading all about their own Writing Process.



Pic: James Knight

Pic: James Knight

The first book I ever loved was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, a picture book that distils story-telling to its essence. Dreams and monsters have preoccupied me ever since.

Much of my writing appears first as tweets, which are then made into miniature poems or prose poems, or assembled into longer pieces. In March 2012 I was fortunate to be invited by acclaimed novelist Jeff Noon to join his Twitter writing group, @echovirus12, a project that has led to many interesting collaborations, for example with the artist Diana Probst, who provided illustrations for two of my books, The Madness of the Bird King and 13.

More recently I set up Chimera, an internet group of intuitive writers and artists including George Szirtes and Mauricio Montiel Figueiras.

Pictures are very important to me. As children we are encouraged to make connections between stories and illustrations, to enjoy the way they illuminate each other. But then we reach adulthood and, in most books of fiction and poetry, that pleasure is denied us. All of my books contain pictures, by me or my collaborators; there is a lot of fun to be had by the reader in exploring the connections and disjunctions between word and image.

The Site





My name is David Shakes. I am an educator by profession. When I started out I’d pour my creative energies in art and writing projects with the kids. As I climbed the senior management ladder, those opportunities became harder to come by.

I turned 40 and decided that I needed to give my younger self’s creative desires a chance. To see if I could cut it.

Pic: David Shakes

Pic: David Shakes

I began with photos and art work but soon moved to writing. I discovered Flash Fiction and that was it. Hooked.

I’ve always been a fan of horror and Sci Fi, so my work often reflects the darker sides of story telling. It probably echoes all my influences too.

People seem to like what I do, so for the time being I am going to keep doing it!

I’ve some exciting projects coming up and some collaborations in the near future.

Who knows? I may even do that novel before I’m 50.

The Site





Pic: Trevor CroweI do a lot of things. One of those things is play with words and language. Words are my main medium apart from myself and in the same category as basic human needs as food, water, shelter. Words are my ikigai and my motivation. At the same time though, I don’t know what I’d do without work. Plenty of material. I work part time as an accountant and study IT at TAFE and have worked a fair bit in retail and hospitality, but at the end of the day it’s the words that keep me going.

The Site


James Knight

book review – In the Dark Room

pic: James Knight

pic: James Knight

“We all need stories”


It’s been a while since I’ve rummaged through the mind of author James Knight. His previous Head Traumas and Bird King scenarios had me in reflective therapy. This new release I have been itching to read, tempted by visuals and tease on social media.

James has a unique perspective. His latest character, a bedridden only twin, laments in his own juices. It is once again trademark surreal though filled with his own Oneirographs –  personal digital-scapes of dreams that he traps, observes and interprets – are extra detailed in that they expose his own psyche, or that of someone else. Powerful images that drive the stories.

James hides nothing. The pictures appear and take my breath away. At first I was so impressed, I thought the art surpassed the words. Then it starts and second thoughts erase all that. The creation of your own world, recurring themes, are again confronting, like an old song on the radio filled with reminiscence can also reveal new thoughts. Something lower in the mix is suddenly apparent and you become unsure of its impact.

James is obsessed by mannequins. They are a constant threat lurking with their statuesque menace. Often the brow creases at such strange thought processes but you can’t help but smile at the absurdity and familiarity of predicaments that are revealed. I felt some confusion but that is life. Is he in a level of hell, is he dying? As he gets into your mind, simulacras appear. If you dream like James does, you will see your own reflection.

This character seems ageless, ancient and childlike at the same time. Memories knocking filled with what shapes us, but told with an uneasy gaze, poetic and artistic. Almost steam punk surreal with all its mind cogs and lace, false memories lurk and come to life, challenging his sanity once the dream invades.

The madness really hits home in this book. The confusion of his mind is paramount, there is a terror and loneliness that makes your heart ache. An imaginarium of shapes and experiences in words, thoughts and actions. His younger self  fueled by bites of aural and visual past experiences that is all encompassing – he is the dream. Rorschach flick your own butterflies and mirrors, share your nightmares. Calling Dr Freud…

It gets creepy, filled with guilt and confusion, an Ecclestonesque heart beats a homage to time masters, it’s as confusing and smile inducing as your first wet dream, filled with absurd truths and the comfort of the ordinary. Holding feelings in specimen cases, once categorized ready to reveal. The mannequins keep the tension dark and as terrifying as crying angels. The empathy of madness proving ones existence with momentos, polaroids we really want to forget but also confront. In The Dark Room is therapy, a tale, a chimera, a memory.


In The Dark Room is available as a black and white paperback through look out for the full colour kindle and paperback edition in August.

you can find James on twitter @badbadpoet and his @ChimeragroupO




Ordinary Things

Ephemeral Poetry by Phil Boiarski

Ordinary Things

an afternoon leafing through… Ordinary Things.

It starts perfectly and in tune to my evening, light fading, birds twilight nesting calls. Though only a digital copy, words hide in strange places. You have to look all over the page to make sure you don’t miss a line, like a squirrel running on a high branch, blink and you may miss his darting tail.

But that’s what Phil does when he is out searching the word woods, his eyes scan, his mind interprets the view. Boiarski greets the day with descriptive ease, like an oracle sitting telling us a story of how to be still. Pear trees that look like “half nude ballerinas” raises smiles, “Lovers picnic on kisses” and we all understand. Those moments are short lived. He will quickly point your mind to re focus on the splendor of the day, giving leaves their voices, we stroll through timeless imagery, the ebb and flow of life. Only “the quiet hum of air conditioners” reveals that this is a modern ephemera.

Phil Boiarski speaks for the trees, to hear his voice recite his own work is a meditative experience, deep as a monks chant, sure of his feelings, at one with his surroundings he’s watched forever. Blossoms conjure Haiku, and the cycle starts again… snow covers earth, sun rivals moon, words stream.



twitter transcript from inside The Vanishing Room

you can see more of Phil Boiarski’s work on his blog Twitter @Boiarski

you can purchase Ordinary Things via

Phil’s memoir and poetry release Coal & Ice is available in paperback via

coal and ice


Living Life Backwards

Interview with author Peter Wells

There is a writer whose posts always catch my attention. A writer that makes you sit and take time out to get to know yourself through his own observations on life. Author Peter Wells started his blog Counting Ducks back in 2011, a friendly space, full of comfort, warmth, humour, empathy and heart.

PW : I always say, by the way, that writers are people who have run out of other people to bore, so they are reduced to chatting with a blank page.

AF: Very true Peter…I promise I won’t suddenly pop the telly on. So inspiration for the blog, how did it start?


Pic: Selfie by Peter Wells

Pic: Selfie by Peter Wells

PW: I started the Blog with no strategy at all. I just woke up thinking one night, and thought it would be a waste not to jot those thoughts down somewhere. How I even managed to start a Blog, or choose WordPress is a mystery to me. But, I found I like formalising my odd imagination in that way, and just carried on, and gradually people started commenting and so on.

AF: Yeah, it’s a bit like you enter in a search – free blog and suddenly you are inside a whole new world of possibilities and problems. I’ve read plenty of your posts, the head scratching moments you experience in life, food tales, you’re special humour, It’s a great place to get things off your chest.  So, your first ideas, were they storyline based short stories, do you go back to original ones and fatten them out?

PW: When I started I really had no idea what I was doing. I might talk about life and that kind of thing. If you look up a post called “We live in a house of Many Rooms” you will find me lightly philosophising with a bit of imagery, and that is really how I started. Gradually the fictional aspects became more prominent, but most of them have some point of view or nudging aspect to them. I am always looking for the insight within experience and that informs my fictional and non-fictional output.

AF: One of the first things I noticed about your posts, besides your wit and charm, was the interaction from so many followers, you have a real fan base. I often see blogs that have lots of followers but they are reluctant to give thoughts and opinions. Your followers are a noisy bunch, I often think it’s this great big party that I want to be a part of. That was the appeal when I first read your work, that relaxed, openness is very seductive, oh and I got the best carrot cake recipe ever (a big call, but true) from one of your followers. Why, or do you have an inclination of why, people are drawn to your sentiment, your gentleness?

PW: Firstly, if you look at the comments on my post, which is another story rich in common sense, you will see commentators making up puns, and even commenting on each other’s puns, which I think is a real laugh. I really do believe that understanding is much more interesting than judging, and I am much more inclined to listen than to lecture, and that possibly makes people feel safer in my company. I hate any kind of strutting, self-importance, or anything of that nature, but otherwise I am pretty inclusive. I very seldom get annoyed, and I am much more drawn to understanding than judgement. It follows that the Blog is not a threatening or opinionated place, unless you stray onto the subject of Crème Brulee or Sausages, when a different aspect of my character may surface. I may laugh at life, but I am never flippant about Crème Brulees.

AF: Your passion and priorities are all in order, good to hear. So now you have your debut novel Living Life Backwards which is an elegant read. This book is all about the characters. Their thoughts set emotional scenes in a story that celebrates the ordinary and their deeper part of their psyches, decisions and steps they take to change their lives.

PW: I have always been fascinated by character and by the blend of self-determination and outside circumstances which affect it. It is the private thoughts and dreams of others which move me, rather than the size of their house, or how they compare with their peers, although that is also interesting.

AF: Any seeds planted or aspects of your novel appear in any past posts from Counting Ducks?

PW: I do have a fairly fertile imagination, for some reason, and these stories just pop up as I’m walking along. In some of them I can see a chance of expansion, and that is where a book might come from. Just to tell you, my next book is already being edited at the Publishers, and I am now on my third, so the words keep spilling out of me, as real life friends rush for the door, leaving me alone with the blank page. As a rule, the origin of a novel is often found in a post. This is true of Living Life Backwards, and the book I am now writing, but not of my second novel which is currently wilting under the editors knife at my publishers PDMI Living Life Backwards or LLB came from a post about a girl whose name was so long, owing to her Dad being a hippy, that she could not get it in the passport form, ( the kind of boring but insurmountable problem which amuses me on account of a somewhat infantile sense of humour. For the book, I made the tome more serious and reflective because I can see from the ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ and reading figures which posts resonate most.

AF: I suppose checking stats that way can be a useful tool, helpful with the decision of what to focus on. You want your book to have a decent readership, but you also have to enjoy writing it. I hope the next one has more of your trademark infantile humour, it’s quite endearing. It’s wonderful to see you making good ground with those blank pages. You sound like a disciplined writer, treat it like working a machine at a factory, some days the metal wheels just go round and round and other days, whirring and chugs can reveal poetry – bottom line is intention, to fight distraction. Let’s get back to your ‘gentleness’, or dare I say ‘The ordinary. It is a subject you celebrate. Characters in your book seem to have a lineage, reasons as to why they are who they are. Traits of personality discussed like eye colour, excuses for being trapped in their own…ordinariness.

PW: If you work for a company, or are in the army or any situation where the leaders set the agenda of events, it follows that most of the people there are not leaders. They are just like you and me, given that you are not the secret prime minister of your state of course. I think the ‘extraordinary’ within the ordinary fascinates us all. If you can look into the heart of the most ordinary of man, with the right degree of patience and understanding, you will hear the sweetest and most enchanting music, and see paintings of similar standing. Once we start parading ourselves before each other, or showing off to gain attention, most of this music becomes inaudible, but it is there in almost any life and waiting to be heard under the right circumstances. This is the inner life in which I am interested, and it is only loosely connected, in that way with the outer life, which is often about defence/offence or conquests of one form or another. I think our personalities evolve over our lives, from external and internal reasons, and that always interests me. I am fascinated by the gap between what we think and dream and what we feel able to say. I’ve always said, and felt that within any great man are aspects of incompetence struggling to be heard, and for the more ordinary of us the percentages of bungling may be slightly higher.

AF: It is more meditative, reflection, you know I read your book and felt that calm I get when I read your blog. It is like when I read an author, though not comparing, like JB Priestley – The Good Companions – It is character driven, you empathise with the vicissitudes that affect us all every day. As simple as feeling the sadness of someone drop their soup thermos at the football on a cold winter’s day. How much excitement do we need in our lives, more to life than tea and the settee.

peter wells llbPW: Excitement is great. I love adventure and dancing and drinking too much but, out of necessity and economic limitations, most of us must live our life corralled within routines and expectations, apart from our brief holidays, and it’s the thoughts and dreams we have while in that place which intrigue me, and the way the passing of time colours them. How an event which was celebrated, for instance, may later be regarded as disastrous, or vice versa. The importance that perspective has in understanding ourselves and our world.

AF: I want to talk about the ‘father’ in the your book. He is a very fascinating character. “ My father was a man of definitions, not intimacies” “Remember if you have a problem, no one else is interested, solve it yourself”, this “aping of” lack of emotion and detachment – do you find this an endearing quality or a stifling one in which you are breaking out of or just your characters?

PW: The father is, to me, an interesting figure, and you may have met men like him, who are, in many ways, frightened of feelings and intimacy and prefer agendas and strategies, which can be organised without exposing yourself. Women can marry men like them and find themselves in a gilded cage, locked by diamonds but largely free from emotional warmth. Why his father was as he was could be answered, but we can all guess at it. He certainly “Didn’t go there when it came to emotions. He was only interested in what was acceptable, practical and could be replicated if you get the picture. Far inside him, for all we know, was a naked pinky thing, hanging onto the controls of his exterior abilities, as if he was driving a tank, but he would give no clues: he is far too canny and curiously timid to do that. We must remember that the father made every effort not to reveal his past and so we do not have much to go on. We can always speculate but nothing more. We have all met these buttoned down types in one degree or another. Privacy and impersonal methods of measurement and interaction are his greatest weapons, and he is unlikely to lower his barrier for our benefit.

AF: Yes I suppose the lineage stopped there as he is not one to talk of unnecessary emotion.

PW: No, interrupting. He would give you as little a clue as he could about why he is as he is, and would hate, for instance, for you to meet anyone who knew him as a boy who might spill some careless innocent gem about his childhood. He hates questions on that level very deeply.

AF: What is he afraid of or is it just unsubstantiated guilt?

PW: It can be as simple as not being comfortable with things he cannot control which, as we all know, often includes ourselves once we escape from the box. He keeps the lid down very firmly on all that. Instinctively he regards the world as hostile, and a place in which you should never lower your guard.

AF: “We create our own chaos” why is that so tempting?

PW: Well most ‘Gardens of Eden’ have an Apple tree. We often think, if I had one more possession I might acquire total happiness, even for a few seconds, and wouldn’t that be lovely. We can normally control these impulses towards instability, but if the Apple winks at you, life can get harder to manage.

AF: the seduction of meeting people on the internet, the chaos that can possibly arise from that, the fantasy is so tempting.

PW: OK, Firstly, there is a concept of being able to be totally true and open but within defined parameters. Disregarding the lies, both Bernard and Misty are Acolytes of stronger personalities whose thoughts and dreams are not as important as those of the people who control them in daily life. Suddenly with each other, they are the most important people in each others lives, without influence from outside. They can share the sweetest, gentlest connections, but always, if we look very closely, in a sort of third person. If you and I talked about a poem, and we both loved a poem deeply and in detail, we could share that, and be thinking, this is so special, to share this delicate intimacy with another, but actually it is just the poem. They love a certain kind of music, and a certain attitude to life, but the rough and tumble of daily interaction, is not known to them. For both of them, it is the first chance they have ever had to construct a love affair without being bossed around and judged by someone else, and that fact is so intoxicating, that they forget everything else. They do both discover a truth, and freedom and beauty which is breathtaking and genuine, but only partial, and only capable of being sustained under very limited circumstances. The book, in part, is about what happens when people who normally allow other more dominant or selfish characters to arrange the agenda of their lives, suddenly find themselves in a space where they can express their most inner thoughts and be heard instead of being told to “Shut up and put the kettle on “ by their more forceful companions. A whole new world, for better or worse, as we all know.

Our thoughts pertained here are mere asides, as you will find out when you read Peter Wells book. Living Life Backwards studies characteristics we all know and which we all know to be ourselves –  a yearning to be more then themselves. It is a most thoughtful, reassuring read about the plight of being human.
Living Life backwards is available to purchase via amazon http:/ .

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