How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Barry: They’d been slowly oozing from my fetid
little brain onto the computer screen for the best part of seven years.
The oldest story dates almost to the last millenium, the most recent
was still being fiddled with about five minutes before the collection
went to print early in ’07. So all in all, it was a pretty
slow and laborious process. Frankly, it took a lot out of me. I have
been left a husk of a man. Art is a hideously painful business, you
know. Pity me! Or at least buy me a drink.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
With the later stories, maybe, yes, a bit. As
you write your stories, I suppose you start to realise that certain
themes and obsessions raise their unpretty heads again and again and
again. So a pattern emerges, and you think, okay, so maybe a coherent
collection can be designed around this.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
The thirteen stories in the collection were
chosen from maybe thirty in all that I’d written. Sometimes,
I tend to write in a bluntly satirical mode, choosing targets the size
of barn doors, and while I love these satirical stories dearly,
believing them to be touched by comic greatness, they didn’t
really fit in with another strain of story I’d been rustling
up. These other ones were darker and probably more
‘realistic’, whatever that means (I have lately
lost all interest in ‘reality’) and these stories
ultimately made up the main meat of the book. Maybe I’ll do
an out-and-out satirical collection later on. Arranging an order is
tricky. I had music in mind, actually, favourite albums. I was thinking
of how a masterpiece like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On
is structured: open with a couple of killer tracks, then let it get all
lowdown ’n’ weird ’n’ smoky.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
I am hugely insecure and desperate to be loved and I want my reader to
adore me, to a disturbing, stalkerish degree, so yes, I always have a
reader in mind when writing. It’s an ideal reader, a
massively sophisticated type with a subtle mind, a feel for poetic
resonance and a wonderful sense of humour. Me, in other words.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
Can you believe how good this stuff is? Do you think I’m
better than Saul Bellow yet? What do you mean you’re not
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
Really cool. And I’m afraid I have to make a confession.
(This is all turning out to be very therapeutic, actually.)
I’ve been haunting bookshops and hiding behind display signs
of TV chefs (Nigella is excellent to hide behind as she has a huge
arse) as I spy on the short fiction section and see if
anyone’s tempted by my sweet bait. I’ve also been
counting how many copies of the book are left in shops, and
I’ve been covering other “upcoming”
authors’ books with mine. Oh what a rancid, poisonous,
competitive fiend I’ve become! I have by now attracted the
attention of several store detectives.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
I have recently finished reinventing the novel. Expect seismic shudders
to surge through the world of letters in the very near future. The
novel is called Ways
To Disappear and is a magnificent achievement.
I’ve also taken about half the stories from the collection
and scrunched them into a gooey stinky mess and – tah-dah!
– turned them into a stage play, which will tour in Ireland
later this year.