Right, here's a mini-interview I've conducted with Quentin S Crisp, author of The Nightmare Exhibition, Rule Dementia! and Shrike. Quentin's going to be loitering around the blog for the next week so if anyone has any questions they want to ask him about his writing or being short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Awards or his new book Remember You're a One-Ball! please do so via the comments function. This is to make the interview fun and exciting in a hi-tech interactive kind of way and not just an attempt to cover up the fact that I couldn't be bothered to ask Quentin any decent questions.
Let's start with the important stuff. Your name is Crisp. But if you actually were a crisp what flavour would you be?
There can be no question but that I would be Worcester sauce flavour.
Your new book is called Remember You're A One-Ball! Does this have anything to do with the legend surrounding Hitler's lunchbox? Or with WWI flying ace Albert Ball who, due to his tendency to spend his free time by himself, found himself nicknamed by his fellow pilots as Solitary Testicle?
Now you’ve gone and spoilt the plot.
Hitler makes a kind of cameo appearance in the book. Kind of. Albert Ball would probably find much resonance in the novel. I suppose I’ve become more sensitive in recent years to the whole notion of spoilers. I’m not sure I cared that much about them when I was younger. I feel like I want everything about the book to be a surprise to readers, if possible, but I suppose if one is going to publicise the damned thing then something must be said other than simply, “Read this book!” So, I can at least reveal that this book does involve testicular surgical intervention of a kind. And I’m sure that, knowing that, you’ll all rush to buy it.
Go on, tell us some more about the book. Spare no detail. What type of paper is it printed on? What font was used, Times New Roman or Dutch Courier?
I think the typeface might be Palatino, but I wouldn’t swear to it. The design for the book was undertaken by Bigeyebrow, in consultation with Chômu Press. I think it looks very striking and unusual.
Someone told me recently that the book is a bildungsroman, and I decided this was a great way to describe it. Just add the epithet ‘macabre’ or perhaps ‘grotesque’, and you have a reasonable sound-bitey description: macabre bildungsroman/grotesque bildungsroman.
I really feel that this novel is a kind of definitive statement for me about certain aspects of my experience of existence, and it seems unlikely that I’ll need to cover the same area again. Having said that, they do say that most writers basically have one story that they write over and over again. I think I have at least two, but I may be wrong. “Remember You’re a One-Ball!” seems to go pretty much as far as I can go in following certain preoccupations of mine, but I suppose psychoanalysts might decide I was still writing the same story even after I’ve moved away from traumatised schoolboys with intimate injuries and passed on to depicting Utopian futures of holographic animism and the parasexuality of invertebrate aliens.
You write in a genre you call demented fiction. But doesn't that name apply to everything that Terry Pratchett has written since developing Alzheimer's? (This joke courtesy of Jonathan Ross's and Russell Brand's book How To Disguise The Fact That You're Not Actually Funny By Insulting A National Treasure.)
I realise that I’m using the word ‘demented’ in an inaccurate way from a medical point of view. People have asked me about this, taking it rather seriously, and I can see that you’re taking it a little too seriously yourself, but the term ‘demented fiction’ is really just something I made up. If dementia ‘goes viral’ at some point, that would be gratifying, but my invention of the term was really just my way of saying, “Girl Power!”
Finally, as an old school Dr Who fan what would you say if the BBC asked you to not only write the next series but also to star as The Doctor? But the entire series has to be done as a musical. Co-starring John Barrowman. And Bonnie Langford.
I’d say, “When do I start?”!
… Can you put a word in for me?