Thursday, 2 May 2013

Q & A with Dan Carver

Tomorrow sees the publication of Dan Carver's hilarious new book RUIN NATION. Where did you grow up and where are you based now? Dan: "I grew up in a small village called Foxton in the days of rural isolation. Nowadays, it's a nest of Audi drivers rooting up each-other's gardens to extend their carports but, back then, it was an agricultural community with three farms, a boss-eyed vicar and a mad lady called Mrs Holland who buried her favourite horse at the bottom of her garden. Now I live in Leicester, where the streets are buttered with chewing gum and fried chicken bones, and our definition of a cultural scene is an a pug-ugly theatre and a converted bus depot full of website developers." Are there any school hymns or songs about England that often move you? "You've got to have a hard heart not to like a little bit of Elgar now and again, even if the lyrics to Jerusalem are complete and utter toss. My middlebrow sensibilities are also all a quiver for the I Vow To Thee My Country cover by Beck Goldsmith. And occasionally I get the odd pang of jingoism when I hear a bit of Michael Nymen going baroque." How long were you thinking about the ideas in RUIN NATION before you put pen to paper - were there any key events that inspired it? "I try to capture things as soon as I think of them. I'm no Doomsday Prepper but I'm pretty certain society, our methods of living and definitions of fulfillment are all pretty bat-shit crazy. So ideas for a dystopian novel are never hard to find. Flick on the news and you'll instantly see some idiot announcing a new way to complicate all our existences. Next week the same idiot will get caught bumming a goat. His replacement will, no doubt, do the same. So no specific events, just general occurrences thought through and taken to their ultimate logical conclusion. I have a fairly dim view of humanity so that conclusion's often quite debased." Do you have an audience in mind for the book? "I thought I did. I thought it was going to be mad-eyed men with qualifications in odd subjects and very unusual hobbies. I'm not judging. I count myself amongst you. However, some of the most enthusiastic feedback I've received has been from women, which is brilliant." Who are your literary heroes? "Jaroslav Hasek. He's the man. A crazy Czechoslovakian drunk who fought in the first World War on numerous sides, married far too many women at once and, in between baiting the Austro Hungarian secret police and capturing, repainting and re-selling mongrel dogs as pedigrees, found time to write The Good Soldier Svejk and His Fortunes in the World War. A great author needs either extensive knowledge and research skills or tremendous life experience. He certainly had the experience. And the book showed me that the ridiculous, the philosophical and the horrific can all co-exist between the same covers." What are your future plans - are you working on a follow up book? "More writing! I always knew Jupiter's story would need three parts. In the second novel we'll see his character rebuild England as a steampunk-version of the 1930's, seduce America's first female president, attack mainland Europe in spitfires, and make his atheist stance clear with the building of a huge national monument emblazoned with the words “Fuck Off, God!'. The third novel will be strongly guerilla warfare-flavoured and feature lots of strong-thighed women in tree-houses. And then there's the children's books..." Which living politician do you most admire and why? "I like Tony Benn. The man has humanity, dignity and generosity of spirit – all the things I lack. I admire people who stick to their principles and, though I don't agree with some of his politics, it's easy to see he has the best of intentions." What kind of encouragement, support or advice did you get from Not So Noble books? "The greatest encouragement an author can receive is an offer of publication. It validates all those long months and years spent tapping the computer keys in isolation. I always knew it was an unconventional book and required a readership with an open mind and a strong stomach. I'd sent it to various literature development folk who met me to discuss it with terror in their eyes. A literary agent said he loved it but couldn't think who the hell would buy it! At times I felt like a man raising an albino child he loved dearly but knew would never see daylight. I feel like Not So Noble have handed me some Factor 50 and a jaunty sun hat." How do you define success? "Success, for me, isn't about power and it certainly isn't about twatty diamond earrings and an Audi R8. It's about freedom: freedom to create and freedom from financial worry. The average UK artist earns £10,500 a year and spends more time chasing opportunities than painting. I'll often waste a week writing a funding application to secure two days work. This is normal for me and thousands of other artists, writers and musicians and it's fucking depressing. So success is the time and space to write and make art, knowing it has an audience, and knowing that the kids have shoes and the bills are covered. And if I can do all that from the turret of my converted 14th century chateau then so much the better." What is the most unspoiled country in Europe - which country would you like to escape to for a month? "If I could find an unspoiled Eastern European coastal town with a warm, blue ocean where the locals aren't all frothing racists then I'd be there in a shot. My family is dual heritage so the Not Racist thing is quite important to us. A hot summer in Croatia would be great or a snowy winter in Tallin, Estonia". "Even a stopped clock gives the right time twice a day" - do you believe everyone has some good in them and has a part to play? "I'm not sure there's good in everyone. There's certainly meat. I imagine you could've made a few choice steaks out of Hitler. I reckon Himmler would've been a bit gristly so you're probably looking at grinding him up for sausages. When I think of Goering, I think Gammon. Yes, I can definitely imagine eating a few thick slices of Goering, grilled, with a slice of pineapple and a fried egg." Dan's new book is available to purchase exclusively on Amazon: Find out more about Not so Noble Books by visiting their website:

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