|Nash at his live reading
of A,B and E
Tell us about your current book?
On one level it’s a book about fictions and story telling. Why do we tell stories, why do we need to hear stories and what does it mean by us using fiction in order to understand reality? I suppose that makes my work a reflective literary fiction but only by default. It’s not fantasy, but it is a sort of hyper-reality, in which what is ‘truth’ can’t necessarily be separated out from what is fed to us through the media, through images and symbols. As to this particular story, it’s about my people, the British. It’s about our identity, our habits and pleasures, as seen through how we behave when we are on holiday away from home, as seen through the eyes of someone forcibly exiled from Britain, as seen through the frontline of pain in an NHS Casualty ward and through the black market and illegality of gangsterism that has come so much to the fore over the last 30 years. These were all what I feel to be unique elements in fiction that hadn’t been covered before, that’s why I gauged they needed a platform.
What gives you the motivation to write in this particular field?
I don’t see it as writing in a particular field, but I am highly motivated to write fiction that engages with the world. My work likes to question some of the things we take for granted as ‘true’ about our lives, our societies, our relationships and ourselves. They are my own inquiries, what motivates me in my daily life and I want to share them through my fiction.
Its title A, B and E, is unusual. Can you tell us your reason for this?
It’s a mixture of A & E (Accident and Emergency ) which represents the nurse character in the novel and B & E (Breaking and Entering) which represents the gangster’s moll and the fact that though the two never even meet within the novel, their fates are ineffably merged. I’ve also got another novel named ‘G’ and I vaguely intend to write a series of novels whose titles cover all the letters in a musical octave! Just C, D & F to go now.
Your main character is a woman, Karen Dash, how hard (or easy) was it getting inside of a woman’s mind?
She’s a woman who’s had to exist in two very male environments, that of academia and then its polar opposite of hardened gangsters. She’s survived in both by forging a certain masculinity in herself, but her femaleness means she both remains an outsider and yet more rounded than any of the men in those worlds. Her struggle is to break down the divide between those two facts. So I slightly cheated I suppose, but I do mainly write female characters as a way of forcing me to travel out towards understanding the character who is very different from who I am.
A, B & E have received a mixture of reviews how do you feel about that?
I knew from the outset it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Like marmite, a reader will either love or hate it, but they won’t be indifferent to it. It’s trying to achieve certain things not conventionally approached in contemporary fiction and that isn’t going to work for some readers and that’s absolutely fair enough. The strange thing to me is how apologetic those reviewers were, each offering me the chance to refuse to have the review published. While that was incredibly nice of them and most unexpected, I asked them to publish the reviews. They were honest responses and that’s all a writer can ever ask for.
Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family?
Not really, they are fairly extreme! Like most writers I suspect, my characters are an amalgam of several traits, so even if I’ve unconsciously drawn from real people, it certainly isn’t any one person who could recognise themselves from the portrait. I draw a lot on my own imagination, just taking my own behaviour and thoughts to extremes and seeing where it lands the character.
What are you working on now?
One word – marketing! I gave myself 6 months of no new writing in order to promote the book. I suspect I will have to extend it to 18 months. I do have other works already completed, so it’s not really a hiatus. The WIP is definitely on the back burner for a while longer yet though. Mind you, through the marketing I’m probably writing 5000 words a week on blogs and flash fiction and the like.
What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
I have a soft spot for the police identity parade which the moll and the gangster subvert to turn it into a bizarre courtship ritual just between the two of them and eliminating everyone else gathered there. Of course, the reader has to ask themselves how much of this story is embroidered in the retelling, or whether it even happened at all.
I chanced peering up, to descry an almost imperceptible tilting downward of Damon’s irises in their sockets. What the hell was he playing at? And then it hit me. What a charge! And all the while they were attempting to press charges against him?
Assembled, nay on show here, was a beauty pageant. All tenors, hues and heights were represented. In fact, we pretty much had the entire male gene pool clustered within these specimens. And there was Damon, outstanding among all this rank parade of manhood. Observe how he shone like a polestar alongside these others. While they all blithely beam, safe in the knowledge they couldn’t possibly get picked out, yet still they are unable to quell their edginess. Mark number three there, perspiring like a sow. Since, line any man with his back to this parapet and his mind can’t help but fall prey to working overtime. His lack of conviction, so that anything, anything at all in his whole life, that makes him feel ashamed, out it comes and is displayed here. Guilty by dint of being hard up against this tidemark. First formed and then reinforced, by row upon row of unwashed, sweaty necks. A plimsoll line beneath which they all sink into the mire. But not Damon, head held unabashedly high and proud. His whole body tensed with rippling self-assurance. Now I gleaned why the 5 & 1/2 foot stripe, uniquely defined his stature. Human in scale, but his power could scarce be contained.
|Nash at another reading.
Check out that nurse’s uniform!
No, I’ve gone my own way. I published it almost by accident. I couldn’t make head nor tail of how YWO’s self-publishing offer worked, and when I went to Legend Press’ website I couldn’t fathom that any better. I phoned them up and got Tom the MD on the line and started chatting to him. I made the decision there and then to go with them directly – I’d missed the latest round of YWO deadlines and felt inspired by Tom to just go for it there and then as they had a space. What it meant was I had done very little planning and had to learn very fast. I’d always hated the idea of any self-marketing, but having jumped in, nobody else was going to do it for me. And I’ve surprised myself by actually enjoying it. The usual author’s platform stuff, blogs, websites, twitter, videos, podcasts, I’ve ended up blogging for “The Spectator” from my efforts – but as to whether any of it sells novels? I have my doubts. The one thing that you can gauge a reaction from is doing live readings and I really love doing those. I do them in character, which means being one of the two female protagonists…