Morning all!!!! Here be 15 questions with Richard Smyth, author of Wild Ink!
Richard Smyth is a novelist, nature writer, cartoonist, historian and one time Mastermind finalist. His first novel, Wild Ink, was published in 2014; his short fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Fiction Desk, The Stockholm Review, Litro, Riptide, Firewords, and a few others. He's also written three books of popular history. He posts short stories at https://richardsmyth.wordpress.com/ and tweets as @RSmythFreelance.
1. What made you write Wild Ink?
It began with a man in a hospital bed and just... kept going. I wish I knew where it came from. There was one particular moment of inspiration (but it's a bit revolting): my brother's girlfriend at the time was a student nurse, and one day she accidentally left a set of revision flashcards in my parents' spare room. Each card showed a different sort of bedsore. That, I think, had a big part to play in the birth of poor old Albert Chaliapin. So there you go. Wordsworth had his daffodils, I had a book of bedsores.
2. Any advice for budding authors?
Take it terribly seriously but at the same time don't take it seriously at all.
3. Tell us about your publisher, Dead Ink.
Dead Ink are one of those very small, very exciting publishing operations that seem to get by on nothing but big ideas, adrenaline and an unholy lust for literature. They're great. As the name suggests, they started out in the e-book market; Wild Ink, along with SJ Bradley's excellent Brick Mother, was their first venture into print.
4. What's your next book?
Something completely different. It's about an American rogue who turns up in a small English fishing village in the 1920s with the aim of building a new Coney Island. It's got sex, drama, death, shipwrecks, and a surprising amount about limpets.
5. What made you turn to novel writing?
It just came naturally, I think. I started out writing stories, which as I understood it was the only way to get into print. Then the stories kept getting longer, and eventually, to my alarm, novels started happening.
6. What was your Mastermind specialist subject?
I had three: British birds; Captain Scott's last expedition; and Russian novels 1830 - 1890. It was that last one that did for me.
7. How did it feel to get a nod from the Not The Man Booker Prize?
Well, the nomination was only a first step (you can nominate yourself, after all, if you've got the brass neck - which for the record I haven't). But it did open the doors to a load of people who went on the Guardian website and said really nice and insightful things about Wild Ink, which was just fantastic.
8. Which contemporary author do you most admire?
I hate and fear this question, because it exposes my utter, embarrassing ignorance of the present century. The writers I really love and consider 'modern' are now pushing seventy... which isn't very modern at all. So I'm going to duck this question like the snivelling coward I am.
9. What was the best book you read last year?
Including non-fiction, probably Jenny Uglow's Nature's Engraver. Of fiction, I think The Jewel In The Crown by Paul Scott. Of new fiction, probably Carys Bray's A Song For Issy Bradley (there's a good comparative article to be written about that book and A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing, which I'll write if anyone wants me to).
10. Where is your favourite writing spot?
Inside my head.
Now for something completely different..
11. Red or white?
12. Cake or death?
Is this a trick question? It would have to a pretty ropey bit of Battenburg for me to consider it a fate worse than death. (I have since shared the Eddie Izzard sketch with RS)
13. Would you rather be attacked by 100 duck sized horses or one horse sized duck?
I think one horse sized duck. But a lot depends on the temperament of the duck/horses.
14. If you could go back in time, when would you go back to?
Edinburgh in the 1750s or New York in the 1920s.
15. What's your least favourite food?
The only foods I don't very much enjoy eating are cucumber and celery. So I suppose it'd have to be some sort of cucumber-and-celery salad. With a Coca-cola dressing.
BIG Thanks to Mr RS and here is what he looks like....
Sorry it's not the one you sent me, that one wouldn't work!