17 Stories Of Love & Crime is finally up on Amazon. It's about three weeks since I got all buzzy about doing this, and it has been frustrating, challenging and rewarding. There are websites out there offering to do it for you for a fee, and I can see why. But it's so much more satisfying to do it yourself.
I'm happy that it's out there. But what do I want out of it? Hmm. It was reading the success stories that motivated me, but it was as much about the fact that you can do it yourself as it was about the hope of becoming one of those success stories. Naturally I would like it to take off, but ultimately I'm happy enough to finally have a collection of stories together and available to share with others. I've enjoyed putting these stories together, even if they have been written over many years. Each is individual and written without the others in mind, yet when I compiled them I recognised something in each of them in the others. And in compiling them I have kept the others in mind and there are fleeting references to each other throughout, characters or situations in one story referred to in other stories.
And for me, it's strangely autobiographical. Usually a single thing happens that sparks a story, and re-reading these stories I remember so much about that single thing and the time in my life that it happened. The passing of The Dreaded One's father was largely responsible for Remembering Argos, though of course there are many moments within that story. The passing of my grandmother made me think about the home I usually dream about when I dream about home, even if my own fleeting passing and subsequent rescuing is at the core of Blue Angeline. A troubled conversation with a beautiful former friend on a sunny day in the park was the spark for Ruben Jane, even if Ruben Jane's troubles are more personal. That one also came from my urge to write the darkest love story that I could.
In a way, all these stories are very real, or have some foundation in reality. They didn't happen, but in a way, they did. At a wedding when the wind was blowing and I couldn't hear the ceremony, my mind wandered and I thought up The Best Man. The woman who twists her ankle getting out of the car in Finding Davey, that was a real moment, as was the final scene in One Moment. The crane in The Funniest Man In The World Tells A Funny Story really did fall and crush that hotel, narrowly missing a group of us drinking out the back. The funniest man himself came about because of how sad I felt watching Spike Milligan doing something naff before a group of reporters and seeing them falling about in sucking-up laughter. Being Groover Terminator all happened, and none of it happened. I wrote that one as a series, painting the character (me) into a corner each week... a guy really did think I was DJ Groove Terminator, my hairdresser Jasmine did ask me to put her in the story and she really does like tequila. We really did get stoned and go on about the biiiirrrdeeees, and Jez and Ann are in there. And GT's manager did phone up and ask if they could post the story on GT's website, and weirdly I met GT and we bumped into each other a few times in the following years.
The bouncer in Stabulous The Clown? Real. The clown? Fucked if I know where I get some stuff from. As real as so many details and moments are in these stories, others are pure fiction, their origin baffling. Quick? His name is short for Quixotic, which is how I view the so-called war on drugs. Some of the characters in there are real. The setting was Home nighclub, the menacing bouncer there was also real. So many small moments make up these stories. The artist in Losing All Of You was a sideways glimpse of a guy on Swanston Street when I was there a couple of years ago with my friend Kat, alongside the essence of conversations real and imagined.
Turtle Bay all kind of happened... thinking about it, sometimes it's hard to remember what actually happened and what was made up. Maybe all of it happened. Maybe none of it happened. Why ask me? What do I know? I just wrote it.
And The Dreaded One, she is there throughout. If you squint, you can even see her there on the cover, which is a photo I took in Prague in 2010. I can't imagine a better cover for this book. I like its moodiness.
If people read it I hope they enjoy it. As far as hoping for any success, like I said it would be nice but mainly it was just a thing to do, a process to go through. I'm aiming to go through the same process (only more smoothly) in compiling The Book Of Grumpy, which as you'll know if you've been to this blog before, is all about the larfs.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Grumpy is hard-hitting journo and freelance writer Lee Bemrose (firstname.lastname@example.org). He takes his craft very, very seriously.
When I was asked if I was interested in doing an interview with The Dandy Warhols, I jumped at it because... well because I happen to like the Dandy Warhols' music quite a lot. I know Courtney Taylor-Taylor has a bit of a reputation for not exactly snuggling up and canoodling with the media. It's not like you see Courtney Taylor-Taylor and The Media wandering through sun-dappled parks, holding hands and whispering in hot breath into each others ears about how much they need each other. You don't see them sitting on beaches at sunset with Courtney's head nestled comfortably on The Media's shoulder as he murmurs lovingly, “Media – I just don't know what I'd do without you.” These are absurd images that only the mind of an absurd person would conjure.
In fact, as you are probably aware, Mr Taylor-Taylor has said that he fucking hates doing interviews and would prefer not to do any at all. Apparently when he finishes a project, such as the new dandy's album This Machine, he spends as much as half a day each day doing interviews. I don't think this would be a bad way to spend half a day if you enjoyed talking about your latest creative endeavour, and if you spent all that time facing genuinely interesting and original questions. Sadly, I don't think interesting and original is how the Dandy's frontman would describe most of the questions he has to face.
Thing is, before any interview like this, I read up big time. I like to find out as much as possible about the interviewee and what makes them tick, which topics get one-line answers and the kinds of things they really like to open up to. I want to know which questions keep coming up so that I can avoid those very questions.
I had to interview a local playwright recently and read an interview he had done the previous week. The piece sucked the proverbial dog's dangly bits because the interviewer based her whole line of questioning on the playwright's Wikipedia profile and (apparently in awe of being in contact with him) she barely mentioned the play he was pimping and just asked about his life and thoughts generally. You could almost hear the yawns in his printed answers. I put in some effort and was rewarded with answers sometimes longer than her whole piece. It was like we'd interviewed two different people.
Sometimes you can get away with a couple of uncreative questions. Sometimes you have to completely come at the thing from left field. I interviewed comedian Sam Simmons once and after seeing the Youtube clip of him having a staring competition with actor Seth Green, I challenged him to a staring competition. Over the phone? Yeah. He loved it. I loved it. My suggestion that the mag run an intro, the staring competition challenge, then a blank page... the magazine, they didn't love it so much.
With Courtney Taylor-Taylor, my in-depth profiling came to the conclusion that it was pretty well impossible to come up with the kinds of questions that were going to genuinely engage the man. And hell, he's busy and would rather cut down time spent interviewing so that he can make music.
So I came up with a multiple choice interview. I've written all the answers so he just has to spend a few minutes ticking the appropriate box. It could be a fun read, or it could fall flat on its arse.
Personally I think there is real potential for the multiple choice interview. Your thoughts?
A. That is an awesome idea, Grumpy. You should should take it to the big league like Letterman and Craig Ferguson. Interviewing Hollywood A-listers by multiple choice rocks! Wooh!
B. As a revolutionary concept it's as dumb as planking.
C. Stupid idea but if anyone can pull it if it would be you. When it comes to stupid ideas, you're the go-see guy.
Hmm. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Next interview is with The Dandy Warhols.
Oh and there is this interview with Stephen House , re his very excellent Appalling Behaviour, which I reviewed briefly here last September. Well worth catching. Four nights only at the quirky Butterfly Club in South Melbourne.
I am still in formatting purgatory with 17 Stories Of Love & Crime, but I am getting there. See below post if that doesn't make any sense. Soon. Soon...