Favourite writers include Graham Greene, Henry Green, Evelyn Waugh, Peter Carey, Paul Auster, Muriel Spark, Chuck Palaniuk. And imagine being as prolific and as widely-read as Agatha Christie! She was my childhood hero, though I haven’t read any of her books for many years. I try not to be influenced by anyone; I try to write in a way that will strike the reader as original and inventive.
Thank you! People usually find me funny in person but it’s a sardonic kind of quick-fire humor that relies on getting laughs by commenting on situations as they happen, and often succeeds because I’m building on or responding to jokes made by other people – a kind of bantering ‘pub humor’ that wouldn’t translate to the page. I do like trying to make a story funny when I’m telling it but I can never remember jokes. My written humor is quite subtle and dry. I do a lot of paring down in the writing process.
Are any of the random news stories that Alison and Jeff discuss based on fact? If not, how did you come up with them?
Most of the news stories are true. As I was writing, I collected newspaper clippings of stories that intrigued me and seemed relevant to the plot; I wanted to seed them through the novel so that some of the events in the book – while clearly implausible, and created for dramatic effect – would nevertheless seem to have some kind of basis in truth; there would be echoes of the real world in them. I made some of them up, but I hoped it wouldn’t be clear what was real and what was not.Your novel mentions a few new genetic creations, most notably, the sheep-pig or "shig". If you could combine two animals in real life, what new species would you create?
Ooh! Have you read The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges? He comes up with all sorts of crazy animals in that; it’s worth dipping into if you haven’t already read it. But, to answer your question, I think a pig and a dog would be nice – two intelligent animals combined to make one furry, intelligent one. Delightful! But some kind of combination to replicate a mermaid would be interesting, as would a dog with wings – or any trainable domestic pet with wings: a cat with wings would be great, too. A calbertross, perhaps.As an author in the UK, is it ever difficult to market/advertise your work in the US? Any chance that a book tour in the states is in your future?
What projects are you currently working on?