A - Art - The plot for this new novel is based around art and artists. Hidden inside it are a few comments on artists and critics. It's a fairly serious book of art criticism disguised as a neo-noir. / B - Bukowski - I published some of his poems in a fanzine I did. He was a kind and gracious correspondent for a while / C - Cocteau - It's a terrible thing that the Cocteau chapel at Notre Dame in London is now behind perspex / D - Death - Is or is not the end? I dunno / E - ebooks - if you can't beat them... / F - Fisher, Billy aka Liar still my favourite film / G - Giraffe - "you never see a giraffe at a fly's funeral" - that's the punchline to the last joke somebody told me/ H - Hulk - It's Hulk or nothing for me these days, comicswise / I - I Came All The Way Here, I May As Well Go All The Way There. That's the title of a new record I'm working on right now. / J - Le Javanaise. One of my favourite Serge songs. / K - KIRK LAKE MICKEY THE MIMIC BUY IT HERE / L - Last of the Famous International Playboys - I wish / M - Meat Is Murder. It just is. / N - Never Hit The Ground, that was my first book, a lost classic of sorts / O - "older and wiser, never applies to me..." - a lyric. / P - Piercing Brightness - This is the sci-fi film I wrote for Shezad Dawood. Ufos and aliens in Preston. Kitchen sink sci-fi. Out on DVD in August / Q - Quimby, Fred - Here's something I only remembered recently. When I was about 5 or 6 I used to love Tom and Jerry cartoons so much I would sometimes kiss the screen when Quimby's name came on to thank him for producing the cartoons. / R - Rufus - So I did this book on Rufus Wainwright. It was an experiment in trying to write a regular non-fiction biography. I wouldn't do that kind of book again. / S - Selby, Hubert - In my very short lived "career" as a journalist I did an interview with Hubert Selby, he taught me more about how to get the truth into writing fiction in the few times I got to talk to him than anybody before or since / T - Thomas, Dylan - I played at the Laugharne Festival this year doing a kind of Dylan Thomas fronts the Fall improv thing. Evidence here / U - Ultravox - Somebody asked me recently who was the most boring band I had ever seen and I decided it was Ultravox, Vienna era at Birmingham Odeon. Others even more boring have probably been forgotten. / V - Velvet Underground. I was talking to somebody the other day and trying to guess how many times I might have listened to the first Velvets album. When I first bought it circa 1980 it had only been out 13 years. Now its been out 46 years. / W - Wyndham, John - Author of Day of the Triffids, Chocky etc. I bought his desk at an auction. Next two things I wrote after that ended up being sci-fi. Don't think the desk is haunted though. / X - Xanthareel, a yellow eel. Looks mean. My favourite animal beginning with X / Y - You Can't Always Get What You Want. Saw the Stones for the first time at Hyde Park this year. They were very, very, very far away. / Z -ZZZzzzzzzzzz //
Written by Hamilton High, first published on Outsideleft.
When and why did you first start writing fiction?
I wrote my first novel in 1973, although prior to that I’d done some short stories and comic book scripts. And I’d spent a rather fraught childhood hiding in various Dan Dare/Flash Gordon fantasies.
Your first novel, The Texts of Festival, was pitched as ‘a bleak forecast of the end of the line for today’s alternative society’. Was it?
I’m not a great believer in the sci-fi/fantasist as prophet. A new Dark Age following collapse of civilization (be it economic, ecological, social, or nuclear) was exceedingly on the cards — and still is — but I wouldn’t claim I was doing anything but having fun with the concept plus adding a few digs at the excessive stupidity of the current counterculture. Post-apocalyptic, barbarian fantasies were ten a penny, and I was merely creating a new one choc-full of stuff I liked — sex, drugs, steam engines, machine guns, Mongol style cavalry, western salons and bordellos.
Right from the start of your literary career, you’ve had fun with rock imagery, and used it in an original and innovative way. A case of the day job intruding, or was there a wider aim?
My life is about writing prose, plays, poetry, rants and commentary, and to save my sanity I do try and integrate it as much as I can. At one of rock & roll’s ‘literary’ peaks (say) Dylan’s ‘Gates of Eden’ Bob culled a hell of a lot of imagery from the fiction of William Burroughs and my quest was to see if it could be taken back again and recycled as a ripping stoner yarn.
The Quest of the DNA Cowboys and the other two volumes in the trilogy (Synaptic Manhunt & The Neural Atrocity), tell of Billy and Reeve, two intergalactic cowboys who go on an adventure. The technological thought-horizon is well imagined. Are you at all shocked that much of what you imagined has come to pass?
I’m not shocked, but, on one extreme, I’m saddened and disappointed. I’ve had the fantasy of downtown Mogadishu in my head for half a lifetime but I never though anyone would be dumb enough to make it reality. On the more positive side of the coin, I’m delighted that now — with String Theory — we have a school of math to support my psychedelic conceit of multiple realities.
Any particular advice the Mick Farren of today would give the Mick Farren that left St Martin’s School of Art in the mid-1960s?
Don’t sell yourself short, kid. You’re a fuck of a lot better than they say you are.