is the pen name of English artist Dan Rickwood. Donwood is known for
his close association with the British rock group Radiohead, having
created all their album and poster art. Aside from his work for
Radiohead, Donwood also maintains his own website, Slowly Downward,
where short stories and various other writings are published. His first
short story collection, Slowly Downward, was published in 2005.
(Tangent Books, 2011)
by Sara Crowley
(Tangent Books, 2005)
with Stanley Donwood
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
I think that they were written between 2001 and 2007. I
haven’t written anything for about five years and I did a book before
Household Worms (called Slowly Downward)
that first came out just before
The War Against Terror started, so I think I wrote these stories within
those six years. I’m not saying that they took six years to write
though. I’d have to be a really slow speller to have taken that long to
write so little.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
Not as far as I can remember. I’m not sure why I wrote them
at all. Except one; I wrote Wage Packet when I found a bundle of little
square wage packets in the stationery shop in town, and I wrote that
one so I could print it out as a little square book, put it in the
envelopes and send it to people I knew. The rest of them I have no
clear memory about.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
included everything I had, and left the order up to Ambrose Blimfield,
who also designed and typeset the book. He invented the term "invisible
publishing", the idea of which is to make books so inconsequential that
people don’t even notice that they’re reading them.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
Everything from religious texts to tabloid exposés to a sufficient
number to jump off in order to be certain of dying on impact.
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
SD: No way. It’s kind of a spooky idea, no? Like a malevolent spectre at your shoulder.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
What do you reckon?
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
SD: It definitely makes me feel better than I would if they weren’t
buying them. Are they buying them? I can easily imagine my books in a
dusty unregarded box in a warehouse somewhere outside Swindon where they
would sojourn briefly before being pulped. I heard that much of the
M25’s road surface is composed partly of shredded books and crushed
What are you working on now?
SD: I’ve made a ridiculously long linocut of Los Angeles being
destroyed by fire, flood and meteor storm (in a quasi-mediaeval style)
and I’m exhibiting that among many other linoleum-based artworks in the
city of Los Angeles itself. That’s at the end of April so I’m working
really hard and really should be doing that instead of doing this. But
I’m quite enjoying this, typing answers to questions whilst drinking
many cups of tea.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
SD: I read Snowfall by Elizabeth Walter and a collection of
supernatural tales by Algernon Blackwood and Last Evenings on Earth by
Roberto Bolaño. I started an anthology called Best American Nonrequired
Reading but I left it on a train, I think.