Hi everyone! Kostas from Babelsbook here. My all time favourite authors are Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Hermann Hesse, Gillian Flynn and Rupert Dreyfus. I am so thrilled to have the chance to interview the latter. That’s the good thing about indie authors. They like to connect with readers.
His debut novel Spark is a work that is politically charged, thought provoking, is laced with dark humour and is a thriller all at the same time. It resonated with readers around the world, hit Amazon top 10 and has recently been translated into Spanish. He has also authored The Rebel’s Sketchbook and recently Prezident Scumbag!: A Sick Bastard Novella.
So let’s enjoy the interview…
How do you get inspiration for your writing?
Firstly thanks for the generous introduction. Really kind of you. The inspiration largely comes from observing the social, cultural and political arse boils all around us and trying to come up with interesting ways to squeeze the shit out of them.
To do this I tend to spend a lot of time painfully consuming junk on the internet, searching for worthy targets. The problem is that there’s so much junk out there that I simply don’t have enough hours in the day to cover it all. This means I have to make sure that I select those targets which readers will relate to the most. That’s often half the battle with the type of thing I write: making sure I don’t stray into bullying otherwise harmless people but instead shine a spotlight on those who deserve a literary ribbing. The day I get it all wrong is the day I hang up my boxing gloves and turn to knitting.
Is freedom of expression related to self-publishing?
Great question. As anyone who’s taken this route knows, self-publishing can be painful at times. This is largely because it still suffers from a terrible reputation and, daren’t I say it, this is sometimes for good reason. But if there’s one thing that self-publishing offers to creative people it’s the ability to invent your own template rather than pander to the play-it-safe template of yesteryear. Those days are numbered now.
So for those authors who recognize this, self-publishing provides us with a medium that’s creatively freer than those caught up in the industry. While it offers some wonderful books, we need to have an honest conversation about how the industry has primarily concerned itself with profiteering rather than safeguarding free expression. This isn’t to say that traditionally published stories can only be bad because clearly that’s not the case and we should continue to support the good stuff out there. I make this point only to recognize that we can now disown the play-it-safe-profit-driven template and go it alone should we choose to.
Is it a good time for authors to self- publish?
With the internet being so prevalent in our lives, it’s the best time to give self-publishing a crack of the whip. I can’t read the future but it figures to me that in years to come the traditional publishing world as we know it is going to die out like the pterodactyl did. We still need translators, editors and graphic designers but the relationships between these different entities needs to change. It’s happening across other creative industries right now and it’s beginning to happen with literature.
Should authors consider book translation and why?
It’s absolutely crucial that we consider book translation. Any serious author already has a love affair with languages and a great contribution towards preserving them is to translate our books for those readers whose first language isn’t our own. If we don’t then the literary world will become evermore English-centric which, and I say this as someone who loves the English language, is a crying shame. Diversity through translation is the way forward.
This interview is going to be translated in Spanish and get published here as well. Would you like to say something specific to the readers that will read Spark in Spanish?
Spain has been one of the biggest victims of austerity in Europe. Rupert Dreyfus represents all those who are worn down by austerity, corrupt politicians, greedy corporations and a stagnant culture. If you’re looking for an author who’s taking a stand against all of this then you’ll no doubt appreciate what I do. Plus I have Spanish speaking family so it’s a privilege to be able to connect with you all in this way.
Harry Whitewolf would like to know how you came to learn about gnome fetishes.
The truth is I never learned about it. I just dreamed up the most embarrassing fetish I could think of and presumed that it’s got to be out there somewhere. I’ve just Googled it for the first time and, surprise, surprise, it’s a thing. You have to dig deep but it turns out there’s an entire community in this world whose idea of fun is juicing over some pointy red hats and Father Christmas beards. It’s the world we live in…
If you met Trump out the back of a gay bar what would you say to him? That’s from Jason Denness.
“I’ve always wanted to go off on a tanned gent.”
Mike Robbins would love to know how you see the intersection between literature, cinema and politics, and what you feel the responsibilities of the writer are.
It’s difficult to answer the first question in the short space I have but I’ll try my best. While most of us are excluded from the democratic process beyond casting the occasional vote, creating art—be it literature, film, poetry etc.—remains an open door to all of us. It’s the one precious thing which our leaders can’t steal from us. Even in the most ruthless totalitarian societies there were dissidents who put their necks on the line by speaking out through art. So in comparatively free societies such as ours, the neoliberal vampires don’t stand a chance.
It’s therefore inevitable that with each generation a handful of writers and artists will continue the tradition of creative dissent, weaponising their political discontent and turning it into something positive. We can use our creativity to escape the humdrum of life and we can also use it as a means of recapturing some of that democracy they’ve stolen. And so we can see the intersection…
As for the second question: I’m conscious of imposing on people’s freedom to be creative however they choose. That’s often been a large part of the problem with art. With this in mind the only responsibility I’d place on writers is the responsibility to challenge their readers by any means they can. The good news is that this can be done in endless ways.
Rebecca Gransden would like to know what your aims are when writing about topical political issues.
Two aims come to mind. In the here and now I’m aware that politics is the most divisive subject matter of them all. One aim is to infuriate those who profoundly disagree with my worldview while I serve as an ally to all those who are, as my good friend Harry Whitewolf puts it, on side.
In the grander scheme of things I have delusions of grandeur so I aim to capture something for the future generations who I truly believe will be far more enlightened than ourselves and our ancestors. That’s always in the back of my mind. Fiction has served as a timeless and powerful way to capture the present moment. These times are so utterly bizarre I hope that one day my stories serve as an alternative snapshot of what was going on in the literary world. Like I say; delusions of grandeur…
Mary Papastavrou asks what is your utopic world? What is your utopia for a perfect world?
The sad fact is there’ll be problems wherever there are human beings so we need to create conditions which make life more bearable for all of us; starting with those at the very bottom of the shit pile. Organising ourselves in such a way that maximises freedom, peace and equality is a step in the right direction although I appreciate this sounds very woolly. We also need to place an emphasis on instilling a profound respect for Mother Earth before she finally goes up in flames.
On that note I would like to ask furthermore if you think that it is realistic.
If people stop getting sidetracked by the bullshit then it’s absolutely realistic. In the interim we have a lot to do in order to create nicer conditions for all, but the struggle for peace in our time is the only struggle worth fighting for. That and defending people’s right to enjoy naughty gnome fetishes in the comfort of their own homes…
Thanks for such a thoughtful interview, Kostas!
Sincerely thank you, Rupert, for this cool interview!
The author is looking forward to replying to any question asked in the comments below.
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