INTERVIEW: Author Marc Nash (more of a chit-chat really!)

Hi Marc,

Thank your for joining Alternative-Read today. I have heaps of questions for you. I'd like to start with your brief synopsis of Wards A, B & E, please. Click here for my REVIEW! 

A gangster's moll has an affair with the chauffeur. In fear of their lives, the pair are bundled out of Britain by the under-boss who fakes their execution. They wash up in Corfu, but the feet of clay upon which their transgressive relationship was erected, soon dissolves and she winds up alone. Alone that is among the teeming throng of Night/ 18-30 Clubbers, who make the resort of Kavos a home from home as might be encountered any weekend night in any town in Britain. Binge drinking, fighting, f**king and then recording it on camera phone in an attempt to prolong the desultory pleasure. For the mature woman without a single thing to her alias, however is she going to scratch out a living in such company ? When in Rome, or Kavos at least ....

An NHS nurse is constantly waging a battle against the desperate outpourings of patients' anxieties and how they perceive her as a passive ministering angel. She has developed her own unique method of coping with any and every unwarranted contact. Strokes, slaps, pinches, gropes and punches, are met with a reciprocal sliding scale of chastisement upon the patient's skin. Professionally calibrated misjudgements with a syringe needle or cannula attachment, metes out her moral reproof. She is a serial wounder. A bruiser of egos and flesh. Just enough reprisal to shock and awe, while remaining under the radar of detection. Until that is, her name is randomly plucked from the ether. Transfused down the information superhighway, via an internet cafe in Corfu and a virtual ransom note extorted by another anonymous stranger waging a single-handed survival struggle ...
When you set out to write your book did you intend to deviate into the experimental genre, which I feel it is, or was it something that happened as you got into the flow of writing it? It's my style anyway.  

When I write, any novel begins from the coming together of the main character's voice and the central metaphor. Everything else spins off from these. The key thing is to get the central voice right, as this is will be what is conversing with the reader, trying to get inisde their head, be it by seduction or with a crowbar.

Since the experimental genre is so, well, experimental, do you follow a unique writing process that may be considered out of the norm by most writers?  
I don't think so. Each stylistic 'deviation' is usually thrown up from a question asked by the plot mechanics. For example, the mini stage play allowed her to express a flight of fancy about a scenario she was absent from. She had to imagine the likely conversation between two other people but can't keep her own feelings out of it so it takes off as clearly fantastical invention.  Then she starts to enjoy the fabulation.

As I understand, randomness such as unstructured free flow thoughts of consciousness and diary writing can be a great boost for creativity. Can you explain if you feel that by pushing the boundaries in your writing it helped you achieve what you wanted from your book?  
Ha I don't see it as randomness! Everything has links that feed into other things, even if it isn't until 50 pages later. Words themselves can often lead me there, but on a wider level, our minds tend to return to similar thoughts, similar feelings all the time. We are not linear thinkers, but double back on ourselves, lose the thread of thoughts, have obsessive ideas. How to represent this in prose that is linearly structured in sentences... The author David Peace is very interesting on these themes.
I'm going to check him out. Your book has actually given me a new genre to look into, so I am quite keen to learn more.  
Start with "The Damned United" by Peace - a book inside the mind of football manager Brian Clough. Superlative writing, though the family weren't amused and the film (inevitably) was rubbish. You can't do interior monologue on screen. 
Do you feel your attitude towards writing reflects on your personal (non-writing) life?  I imagine you often find yourself avoiding a pre-defined system of constraints. Would you say this to be true? ;) 
Ha, I don't accept anything at face value, but always look to get under the surface and spot the hidden relations, the reasons underlying why something is as it is. Having said that I have a day job and a family...
Ha! Ha! You rebel!  
Oh I live a very humdrum life. But I can let loose in my imagination. I'm an only child so probably spent a lot of time living in my head entertaining myself, but also observing my parents' adult friends as I was always invited into their social evenings. On the rebel side, I do have almost the least official records on me it's possible to; my name isn't on anything to do with the house beyond the mortgage, I don't drive and have no licence. My natural temperament is to hide away under a stone, but none too clever for an author who has to promote themselves in this day and age!

What are you reading now? Which genre of fiction do you prefer?  
Occasionally I read non-fiction, but it is diet of unremitting contemporary Literary Fiction. Just finished reading David Vann's "Legend of a Suicide". I am going to snuggle down over Xmas with Bolano's 950 page opus!  
Oh, Legend of a Suicide, that's one I'm going to add to my list. Thanks for that! 
 It's something I have some family history of and have written about in another of my novels (it considers both a personal suicide along with a suicide bomber to try and really get under the skin of the phenomenon). Vann's book is very thought provoking, but I did have some shortcomings with it as well. Though definitely worth the read.

What's the name and author of your all time favourite book? 
 I used to read Albert Camus' "L'Etranger" once a year because I found something new in it each time, not bad for a 102 page novel. I stopped doing that in my 30's. Hard to say which is my favourite, the funniest book I ever read is "Karoo" by Steve Tesich. Franz Kafka's "The Castle" is a masterpiece, but sadly not complete as he asked for all his books to be burned on his death and what we have is all that was saved from the flames by his friend Max Brod who later perished in the Nazi death camps.

I have Albert Camus' books on my reading list already. Also, for my 1001 Books to Read Before You Die Challenge: Amerika, , The Trial and The Castle. I can't wait now! 
"The Castle" sweeps the reader along so mesmerisingly, through both emotional ups and downs of hope and despair, that you have no sensation of being carried along at all. Masterful. I of course write in completely the opposite fashion! You know it's me holding your hand as a reader. Or should that be yanking your hand?
If you could be a book character that you love to hate, who would that be, and why?  
Good question. I don't hate the bad guy necessarily, I can often see where they're coming from and in a parallel reality I would probably take the same decisions as they would! On TV Dexter is a very appealing character, which is quite troubling if one stops to think about it. Sympathising with a serial killer, hmm what does that say about our contemporary state of mind?

I know exactly what you mean. Poor Dexter!  
Michael Hall of couse plays him with such charm and allure which adds to the subversive pull on the viewers' emotions.

What was your favourite subject at school and then at University?  
History though the University 'teaching' disillusioned me to the extent I changed my degree to Social & Political Science. I loved Chemistry but as I wasn't very good at Maths and Physics, I wasn't allowed to continue it to A-Level. Now I love reading all the physics and genetics stuff as a layman. These scientists are only writing metaphors to explain their rarified theories anyway. But they're damn good at it. "A,B&E" gives the lowdown on each University Lecturer personality type. It should be in the alternative guides given out to students!

In your book you wrote a one act play. You are obviously familiar with this. Can you tell us about your playwriting background, please? 
I started writing plays at University to stop me leaving because I hated my degree. After 1 play I wrote two plays in about 6 weeks and went up to the Edinburgh Fringe with them which was madness. When I left College I thought playwriting might be a good thing to do instead of working (!) and wrote several -yes you guessed it - experimental plays that veered more to dance than kitchen sink dramas. I loved working with actors, directors and designers. Though in the meantime I had to get a real job, I only gave up when my twin boys arrived and hanging around theatre bars was no longer an option. 

You have twins! Congratulations! I thought one child was hard enough, what's it really like with two of the same age? 
It's a nightmare at the beginning, feeding, changing and burping two at the same time with only 1 pair of hands. But the advantage kicks in when they're older, as they are at the same level of development and interest so are easier to entertain, unlike siblings of a different age. Expect plenty of one-two combinations from them!

Name three things that are in your bottom bedside cabinet right now.  
My father's stamp collection -  his heirloom, a William Burroughs first edition of "Naked Lunch" that someone very kindly bought at auction for me and my hair clippers. The cabinet is where I keep my few valuables. Other than these I only really possess books and a few vinyl records. I'm not a hoarder. All my clothes are freebies from when I used to work in a record and skateboard small chain of shops. I've never skated in my life, but I dress like one!

You are not the only one I know who dresses like that, either! Must be a Brit thing... Oh, and Naked Lunch – William Burroughs, is on my 1001 list to read, also! :) Oh, how I love my own challenge! LOL  
It's not Burroughs' best, I'd recommend "Cities Of The Red Night". I love his speaking voice as I do with Will Self from his appearances on "Shooting Stars". I can never read a Self book without hearing his sneer intoning it, but that just adds to the experience I feel. Re Clothes, the whole skater style is a US thing, although we do it with a few more layers in the Winter. Needs must and all that.

Which football team do you support and why?  
Ha, the longest relationship in my life has been with my football team Derby County, but we're seeking a separation as I have fallen out of love with the professional game and content myself with managing my boys' team. As a born & bred Londoner, not sure how I came by Derby at age 6. My Mother was from Manchester and a United family, my Dad from the East End of London and follows West Ham. Derby being somewhere geographically between the two to avoid conflict/favouritism, but I think that's a bit over-sophisticated for a 6 year old mind don't you?

OMG, I don't know a lot about Derby County, but West Ham! :) It's funny, my dad is from London, and supports SPURS! Which means, so do I. West Ham & Spurs are not exactly the best of friends. 

And I know what you mean about falling out of love with the local team...I'm from Cambridge. Need I say anymore? CUFC are practically in a league of their own!  

I've been to the Abbey Stadium - all 3 rows of its terracing in the Away End!

Oh, they have improved it since! Although, not much.

Had to add him in here again, he's so cute! 

I used to go to preserve my sanity from College which was driving me nuts, walking past the drunken revellers in Penguin suits, me in my DM's (before they became a fashion label)... I wouldn't inflict the pain and misery of a lifetime on my boys by demanding them to support my team and both have voluntarily plumped for Spurs too.

Great - Sensible kids!

So they are in all likelihood going to have to discover a slightly softer version of lifetime pain and misery for themselves. There can only be one winner of any trophy and 19 also rans... Not like literature of course!

Not at all! What is the one piece of advice you have been given that has made a difference in your life?
Don't stand around watching a fight, you will get sucked into it. The advice I like to give is you can only do what you can do, I am a great believer in the art of the possible. Children teach you to pick and choose your fights. 

Good one! Finally, back to writing, are  you working on anything else you'd like to share with our readers? 
I'm always working on things, trying to catch up with my own material. My WIP is a book about schizophrenia and the split origins of the English language between Anglo-Saxon and Norman French. Lots of voices!

Where can we keep tabs on you to follow your progress? 
twitter @21stCscribe, blog sulcicollective.blogspot and Year Zero Writers Collective and hopefully just the word on the street. Er the literary street that is...

Thank you, Marc. This has been fun! Even though your dad is a West Ham supporter! :))

And many thanks to you. Great questions! The "Inside Story" by Sassy Brit and her Gang!
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Thanks for taking the time to leave a sassy comment. It's truly appreciated. I aim to get back to you as soon as possible -- Sassy :)