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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Salo Maa Neco is as interesting as his Grandad’s old Y-fronts and just as smelly (probably)

 It's another Boring Author Interview! 

What’s so great about your crap book? 
Hey, 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.  
Amazon.UK | Amazon.com
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?
The 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.  

If 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? 
I 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? 
My 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 more.

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.)  
Smart arse.

Do you think you write better than them? Is your aim to out sell them? 
Yes, 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 done. 

In 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. 
Yes. 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 and bots.
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.

What 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? 
I’m 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?
No, 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? 
I’m 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?
The 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. 

If 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. 
Is 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? 
It 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? 
We 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? 

Authors are often labelled as dreamers and loners. Have you been labelled as such? What implications does this have on your writing? 
Did 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?
It’s 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.
If 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.

If 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.

Hmm, 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. 
First: This is the story of Esref, an intelligent, handsome, warm-hearted little boy who lived in Istanbul and who changed the world.

Middle: ‘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! 

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