It’s another Boring Author Interview!
What’s so great about your crap book?
Toots, did you just call my book ‘crap’? ‘My name is Cinnamon’ isn’t
crap. It’s almost literature. It’s the story of two boys growing up in
Istanbul. There’s a subtle sexual undercurrent for the grubbier of
readers and there’s romance for the sops. There’s a giggle or two along
the way, some Istanbul exotic for the fat and lazy armchair travelers,
and only the hardest arses of readers won’t cry somewhere between the
first and last page. Even men like to shed a little tear while reading a
book. Don’t tell anyone I told you that. What’s so great about My name
is Cinnamon? I write to the reader’s emotions.
Toots? Toots?! Hope I got you back with the y-front title.
What do you really think about erotica? Is it the low of lows for writers?
low of lows for writers is the Dan-Brown-written-for-dimwits genre.
Like McBurgers, white bread and SqueezyJet, most of the pap in the ‘Top
10 Bestsellers’ isn’t worth the money or the physical effort to consume
it. Erotica on the other hand stokes the reader’s imagination. Surely
that’s what separates literature from McBooks. (And, by the way, how
cool is an eBook device for hiding what you’re reading? No cover to give
away your grubby little secret. You can say you’re reading Peter
Hopkirk’s The Great Game which is awfully intellectual when really
you’re really reading Madam Chirac’s 69 Lacey Romps in Paris. Or Harry
Potter.) Look, I work in an awfully proper school and so I’m expected to
be awfully proper. But who is? I escape into my eBooks and, if
anything, they look at me and think, how awfully modern.
you didn’t have your book professionally edited, what makes you think
you’re so perfect that you didn’t need to pay a professional?
may not be a perfect bastard but I am a very pedantic one. No one
except my mother is pickier than me. Maybe my primary school teacher who
still writes to correct the occasional error in my blog is pickier.
I’ve read, re-read, edited, and re-edited my books. Each took over three
years from conception to birth, baby. Like sex. Slower is better. I’ve
had no complaints. By the way, it’s an art. What one person thinks is
perfection, others may not. What tickles one fancy… we’re still
talking about my books, aren’t we?
You’re still in contact with your primary school teacher? Wow. But yes, I agree, perfecting books takes time and the more time the better it will be (get it out of your head and onto a computer should be the fastest part of writing).
Those writers (usually those blinded to a publisher) who are on a contract to write several books a year can’t be turning out quality books. Anyway, back to the questions…
Why should I spend time reading YOUR book over more well received authors?
bookshelves are filled with unheard of authors. Who are those ‘more
well received’ authors? Do you mean the ones with the correct number of
syllables in their pseudo-names? They who write to a formula of 95,000
words and 20 chapters and mentioning sex in the first page? The ones who
write books for the train or plane ride? The ones who are puppets for
the publishing companies? I’m glad you asked, Toots. You should read my
book because it’ll make you think and feel. The Look Inside feature is
the eReader’s best tool now. Forget reviews. Forget Waterstones’ ‘best
seller’ list. Read the first 5% of any McBook if you can and then read
the first 5% of My name is Cinnamon. Try it Toots. Dip your fingers in
and wiggle them around. I think you’ll like it. I’m sure you’ll want
Is there an author who you inspire / perspire to be like?
(I think you mean aspire but, as you pointed out, I’m not a professional editor.)
Do you think you write better than them? Is your aim to out sell them?
no, and yes. Joanne Harris writes artfully. Chocolat, Blackberry Wine,
Gentlemen and Players… These are literary works of art. I write at
least as well as her and yes, I want to outsell her. I want to sell so
many books that, like her, I can quit my day job. I liked John Irving’s
earlier books but after a while the bears, wrestling, New England and
boyhood sexual encounters with aggressive older women began to feel
the writing world have you ever regretted anything, i.e. written your
own review or written a bad review for a competitor, argued online,
copied someone else’s idea.
I’ve regretted not being more ruthless. I’ve not done any of these
things you mention. I was busy angsting over apostrophes and split
infinitives and the feel of slicing a person’s throat with a very sharp
knife. One of my books (Survivors) begins with an Ebola pandemic. I’ve
not had the ruthlessness to exploit that by diving into chatrooms to
comment about the current African tragedy and then shamelessly promoting
‘Survivors’. The big publishers wouldn’t hesitate. They probably even
start such outbreaks to sell books they’ve had written by their drones
That’s the trouble with being a writer, we’re not natural at selling. Time to push ourselves? Those on the Amazon/Goodreads forums won’t agree though.
qualifications do you have for writing in your genre? Many authors use
their qualifications to show off their talents and the book becomes
boring. How have you avoided this?
a Teacher and a Psychologist (yes, Toots, they’re both proper nouns so
leave the capitals where they are). Er, OK, (presses the undone button) I study abnormal behaviour. I work
with sexual deviants and adventurers and criminals. I’m their father and
counsellor and parole officer. I watch their eyes and I smell them and I
see the way they scratch themselves. I know what they’re thinking and
who they’re thinking it about. I know who they want to kill and who they
want to caress and seduce and tie up with lace and who they want to
string up with rope.
Not a primary school teacher, then!
If I were to read your book would I have to scroll through lots of acknowledgements? Or recommendations?
Toots. My books and I are not American. I trust my reader to appreciate
my first few paragraphs and then I trust my writing to seduce the
reader. I do understand that the McPublishers think readers have to be
told what they like. I don’t.
Is your book set outside England? Would I understand the jargon?
from neither American nor Britain so I know to be careful with our
English language. There are no footpaths, piss or fannies in My name is
Cinnamon. It’s set in Istanbul and so there are some Turkish bits but,
fret not Toots, these are explained when necessary. I think we’re all
getting a little too precious about the trans-Atlantic divide. Perhaps
the Americans and Brits ought to understand that the English language is
now owned and operated by quite a few more people than just them. I
first really understood this back in high school when I suddenly
understood the caption: Minnie Mouse was speaking to Mickey Mouse. She
said, “Kiss me Mick.”
Nope, it’s sailed over my head.
I’d like to say that the English language is owed by Britain, only parts of it has been adopted by other countries and moulded into their family (country ideals) making it neither wrong or right but just ‘the way it is’. It’s made the language richer, stranger, frustrating at times but a lot more fun!
Why that shitty title? Did you run out of ideas?
story is told by Tarsin. That’s his name. It’s also the Turkish word
for cinnamon. “It used to be a spice more valuable than gold. Now they
sprinkle me on cappuccinos. Everyone in Istanbul knows about change.” I
thought it was a better title than, Fifty Shades of Bad Grammar or And
to think I saw it all on Mulberry Street. Oh and by the way, my
imagination won’t ever run out of ideas.
you were me (you know, perfect) and knew nothing about a person and
you were told to interview them, what’s the one question you would ask,
and answer it.
there any question you wouldn’t want me to ask you? I’d hate it if you
asked if my book is in any way autobiographical. Yes, it is. Throughout
the whole book I’m there as a little bit of this character and little
bit of that one. I did that. I said that. I saw that. I ate that. I felt
that fear. I lusted after that. And I cried just like that.
How long did it take to complete your book? If it took over a year, is it boring and laborious to read?
took about three years to complete. It took about 3 weeks to write the
first draft and then it was left to mature. After a few months it reeked
like an old cheese so I refined it and put it away again. Then it stank
so I rewrote here and there. That stench matured into an possibly
acceptable Roquefort-esque odour and after several more rewrites that
odour became the gentle sweet fragrance of a ripe baby camembert. I
wouldn’t inflict boring and laborious on anyone, least of all me.
Any bad habits or rituals you HAVE to do in order to write?
are what we eat. My writing comes from my food and drink: chocolate of
course, red wine that’s made and bottled just up the hill from where I
write, and really tasty coffee made in a French press. Pistachios too
but they have to be in a brown paper bag and eaten outdoors, near the
ocean, while talking with your childhood friend.
Sounds heavenly. Want a lodger?
are often labelled as dreamers and loners. Have you been labelled as
such? What implications does this have on your writing?
you just read my name-tag? I’ve travelled the world, mostly on my own,
thinking and dreaming all the way. This doesn’t have implications for my
writing. It is my writing. My name is Cinnamon is all about a little
boy who thinks he cures the world of loneliness and maybe he does it
with a very sharp knife. Again and again. Or maybe he was just a
dreamer and a loner.
What do you think of social media?
a lot like sex. It’s can be good. It can be bad. You shouldn’t let it
take over your life. And don’t do it with family members. Or animals.
Describe your perfect death.
it’s someone I like, the perfect death is to die while asleep. The
heart stops, the dream ends, you stay warm under the duvet.
it’s someone I hate, it has to be very slow and agonising. Funny you
ask because my next book has twenty murders and the killer hates every
one of his victims. He doesn’t just want to kill them, he needs them to
suffer. Drowning, eventually, in a dark, rat-infested storm water drain.
Eaten over several days by eagles. A good sharp knife is hard to beat.
It’s precise and tactile and simple. Guns jam up and poisoning can go
badly wrong but it’s very difficult to kill badly with a beautifully
sharp knife. Don’t you think? They have to know they’re dying. They have
to know why they’re dying. They have to fear death. It’s no good if
they’re expecting seventy virgins or eternal peace. They have to believe
in flames. They have to know its inevitable and most of all they have
to know who’s holding the beautifully sharp knife.
what about severing a limb or extracting an organ, and keeping the
victim alive to suffer for a while longer by having him eat his own
flesh and drink his own blood?
Well, you did ask.
Er, I meant your death. But I don’t think my stomach could face the answer!
Give me the first, middle and end line in your book.
This is the story of Esref, an intelligent, handsome, warm-hearted
little boy who lived in Istanbul and who changed the world.
‘And the best stories often have hidden messages that sometimes only
the story teller knows and everyone else just has to guess.’
Last: He was and still is ‘canim’, my life.
Thanks for answering my questions and scaring me witless with your answers!