Name: Rupert Dreyfus
Where are you from: I’m from the far north of England; I can be over the Scottish border in less than an hour.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc: I have a degree in politics and philosophy which is no indication of my intelligence. I went into university loving Chomsky and Kafka and came out of university loving Chomsky and Kafka. I presently give legal advice on contractual issues for a living. It’s all very boring.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m presently doing all I can to locate and expand on my readership. This basically equates to harassing people all over the internet to invest some time into reading my short stories. I haven’t discovered the foolproof way of achieving this objective because people are naturally suspicious and see you as a potential salesman although everything I write is available for free. Twitter seems to be the best medium for networking so I’m focusing on that mostly. In the meantime I’m also writing lots of short stories which will be uploaded in due course. The next story could cause a ruckus. So much so I’m having to take legal advice.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing fiction in my early twenties, but it was a very different style to what I’m writing now and not very good. I began writing because I had been reading for many years and I had this burning desire to give it a go. Once I started, it was like an addict wrestling with a crack pipe: I just had to keep coming back to it. But as time has gone on, the motive has developed into something else. I want to use my writing as a means of direct action; as a means of speaking out against the oppressors. I deeply care for the future of our species and writing stories is a means of expressing this.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think I’ve ever had that defining moment! I believe we’re all writers in the same way I believe we’re all politicians, scientists, philosophers etc. The man on the street is just as much a writer as I am. Similarly he’s just as much a politician as David Cameron is. Nobody’s an expert in anything. It’s all arbitrary.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is called Spark. The London riots of 2011 was a major influence. I thought the mainstream media did a great job of failing to represent the voice of the disaffected and instead focused on the mindless violence. I suppose I wanted to create that person they failed to focus on; the person who is apathetic and disengaged, but wants something new to come along and save them from this hostile system we’ve created. The hacking group Anonymous was also a major influence. They are like modern day guerrillas.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I drift between satire and transgressive fiction although it’s not the done thing to say that you write transgressive fiction. I’ve created my own subgenre which is guerrilla fiction; it’s more of an attitude than anything else. A bit like punk rock. Every story is strictly written in the first-person.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Spark is a reference to sparking a revolution, but it works on many levels: sparking an idea; sparking a conversation; sparking a movement etc. Spark is also the hacking name of the narrator, Jake Miller. Revolution and rioting are the key themes. And there’s a love story of sorts thrown in for good measure.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It will all become obvious, but a core message is that human beings fundamentally want to be free. We presently have the means of taking control of our own lives and creating a new kind of world by using technology such as the internet. We’re already starting to see this happen as people boycott traditional means of obtaining and sharing information. I am as serious as anybody when I talk about the need for a meaningful revolution where people take control of their communities and their workplace. We’re a long way from it, but people are always talking about it. Spark is a literary contribution towards this conversation.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Like all my stories; they tend to be ridiculous yet vaguely possible all at the same time. At least I like to think so. I meticulously researched themes such as hacking and computer surveillance so I hope this much is realistically portrayed.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are certainly reference points from my own life, but it’s mostly driven by imagination.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Profit Over People by Chomsky, 1984 by Orwell, Howard Zinn on War, The Trial by Franz Kafka, Spider by Patrick McGrath, Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey, A Demon Haunted World by Sagan, Tao Te Ching by Laozi. Some Charlie Brooker essay collections are also an influence.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
In terms of pure story telling Patrick McGrath has had the single biggest impact on me. He portrays the weird without even trying.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Revolution by Russell Brand (it’s better than what I thought it would be) and Stoner by John Williams (it’s very good).
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Bryce Allen linked me to his online story and I really liked his style. When I get more time I’ll certainly invest it in reading The Spartak Trigger. It’s the kind of story I need right now to get me away from my own writing. I love hardboiled stuff; Dashiell Hammett and Cornell Woolrich have been long standing favourites of mine in that genre.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m writing a number of short stories. The one I’m presently working on confronts bigotry in a way that most people in this country who are tired of UKIP’s disproportionate exposure will appreciate. The next one is going to tackle police brutality and then I may have a break from political satire and write something completely outside of my comfort zone although it’ll be identifiable as a Rupert Dreyfus ruckus.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The NHS. Where would we all be without it?
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No. I see it as a weapon against abuses of power and social injustice. I’m not in this for the money; if I was in it for the money I’d be writing stories about teenage witches or trying to construct a thriller. I haven’t even bothered with hunting down an agent. Writing is definitely a way for me to communicate ideas and give a voice to the voiceless.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
A book is never truly finished, but I’m pretty much exhausted with Spark. If I ever had to do it all over again then I’m jumping out of the window…
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
The opportunity to convey a serious message in a ridiculous setting is what interested me the most. And the possibilities are endless. That’s always exciting. I can dream up weird concepts and just roll with it.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Jake Miller has just been shot by a member of the British Counterterrorism Unit. As he lies on his bedroom floor, wondering if he’s going to bleed out, he attempts to put the last few months of his life into perspective. One minute he’s starting a high-flying job in the corporate banking sector; the next minute he’s commanding a legion of disaffected computer users known as Generation Y-bother. They know Jake only by his hacking name Spark and the videos he uploads to his Youtube account, but they’re hell-bent on helping him bring about the end of the world as we know it. The problem is not everybody’s on board his battleship…
Spark is Rupert Dreyfus’ debut novel which takes a satirical swipe at corporate culture and the Westminster pantomime. A thank you letter to hacktivist groups such as Anonymous; this is guerrilla fiction for the Digital Age.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I don’t know if I’ve understood you correctly, but I hope every story is a challenge. I often try to use idiotic protagonists to convey very serious messages about ourselves and the world. Take On the President’s Watch for example; it’s an illogical story where the president’s wristwatch takes us through the final day of a fictional US president’s life on Earth following a nuclear fallout. The reason I chose a wristwatch to tell this story is because if there ever is a nuclear fallout, there may not be any humans around to tell stories anymore. That’s when inanimate objects such as wristwatches will begin to talk. It also demonstrates the absurdity of allowing maniacs to handle nuclear weapons.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Probably George Orwell. The humanity and the effortlessness of his writing strikes me the most. He could just write beautiful, heartfelt sentences like there was no tomorrow.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
As corny as it sounds; only in my imagination.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Will at Gonzo Media designed the cover for Spark and my Twitter banner. He did a spot on job. Big up, Will! http://www.gonzodesign.co.uk
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Knowing that I had no interest in getting it professionally published once it was finished. However, I’m now on a mission to let everybody know about it. With no budget, this is proving difficult.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that Snowden and Assange are heroic figures. I always thought this was the case, but researching what they’ve been up against was eye opening to say the least. They’ve demonstrated how much our leaders despise our freedom.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t listen to me! But if you have to listen to me then I would say to other writers; just write. Write your heart out. Go against the grain. Don’t write to sell. Don’t write commercial fiction. Don’t write for the industry. We’re in a position of privilege where artists can basically do what they want for the first time and still find an audience.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Get in touch via my website and say hello. I’m always up for talking about the themes of my stories. Remember that I am relying on word of mouth. Blog about my stuff; share it with others; Tweet about it; link from all social media that Rupert Dreyfus is a new author on the side of the rebels and the free thinkers and the good people who are fighting back against bigotry and abuses of power.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
- I finished it in a night. It broke my heart.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Everything has the potential to make me laugh and cry. However, I try not to do the latter too much.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Difficult question! So many great people. Emma Goldman, Chomsky, Witold Pilecki, Carl Sagan, Orwell, Oscar Wilde to name a few. However, if I could only meet one person then I’d probably meet Kafka so I could talk in depth about his stories and find out what they’re actually about.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Rupert loved all creatures and his grammar was okay. I would have this on my headstone because it’s true.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Music is important. Reading helps.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m glad Twin Peaks is coming back. I love David Lynch. The Wire is my favourite TV show. I tend to watch a lot of crime series and film noir.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music:
My favourite food is pudding, my favourite colour is cake and as for music there are so many artists I listen to. I am presently listening to Her Name is Calla’s latest album, Cocteau Twins, Burial’s last release, Dead Kennedys are hilarious. I listen to all sorts of music. It depends on what I’m doing.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If only writing was my profession! If I wasn’t writing, I’d probably be making really bad electronic music a lot more than what I am.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Everything concerning Rupert Dreyfus can be found at: www.rupertdreyfus.co.uk
Thank you very much for the interview, Fiona! Respect!