Interview with Mel Vil

Published 2014-04-25.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There's a good question! And there's no real one answer. It's perhaps easiest to say that it was due to finding my voice during the first years of the 21st century, but that hides a lot of the truth. Of course, when I started writing the Internet was still in its infancy, not to mention the vast amount of time I spent in South America. Secondly there's the issue of finding an agent, which in my view means playing the field and I've always been resolute on standing with my back to ivory towers... or at least definitely those of literature.
I was strongly influenced by the idea that you should write what you know. I stepped out into the world to know something, wrote about it and realised that's where my voice was. From that point, it was a straight line to the world that fascinated me most. I'd hate to be writing about writing. That's the same quagmire that the press got into. And if you look at the press and mass media today, they've been cut out of the interesting material and are slowly drifting towards their own isolation and permanent introspection.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read anything that takes my fancy. Of course, if you knew me, you'd know that's a pretty limited selection. I generally buy somewhere in the region of four to seven books at a time, knowing full well that I'll only really find some interest in one or two. I've got over the habit of buying one must-read, as they tend to just languish. I guess you could call this serendipitous, or eclectic. At any rate, I've found it the best way to encounter new and interesting reads in the short-term, and an even more rewarding way of building a library, as each title from a single shop becomes interrelated, you know, this was the best, this was the surprise, etc. And as a group they also say a lot about the personal themes of my life at a given period.
Describe your desk
I have a huge roll top that my wife has at times called a coffin. It's the right size and build for sitting on with your feet up and has the deepest draws. Besides that it's pretty neat and has all the essentials to hand and still leaves ample space for the task at hand. There's always a few post-it notes with the latests mantras and a couple of hand-drawn Buddhist deities. More recently I've added some photos and mascots. There's also a mini-bookshelf with the things I need to hand (or just in sight).
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The sunshine mainly. I've had periods of stationary jet-lag. Then I bought a blue light. That pretty much changed everything. And as with so many things in life, when you find sources of joy, they self-replicate. Back then I lived on the ground floor of a Parisian stone building, facing the courtyard. I had to look 'out' of the window to see the sky. Since then I've moved and the sun pours through the closed shutters every morning. There's even a pin-hole projection of our Sun which travels across the far wall of my bedroom, so I know once it's cleared the trees.
Otherwise, I account for almost everything I can. I chart the hours I dedicate to each of my pursuits. I now keep track of the hours I sleep and have a whole host of other records that are of less relevance to this context. When you're accountable, you're responsible. When you're responsible, you're either creative or not meeting your obligations.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I haven't bought a kindle yet, but it's on my list. It'll be a newer read only device. I've realised the shortfalls of the tablet computer. Each has it's place. What I look forward to most is a hybrid e-paper book, which looks and feels like a book, has a comfortable size and number of pages, but which will change its text according to my whims and fancies.
How do you approach cover design?
Having full creative control allows me to aim for two goals. First there has to be a personal link to the work, something that ties me to the person, place or situation that inspired the work. I like to think the curious reader would try to work that link out, but I don't kid myself either! Second, there has to be something eye catching. As we are all geared to recognise faces and particularly facial expressions, I can't overlook the inclusion of a character on the front cover. Of course, it doesn't necessarily have to be a character from the book. It can be purely symbolic, but it has to captivate the attention.
What's the story behind your next book?
My next book has been in the pipeline for longer than Buenos Aliens. It's a post-apocalyptic scenario about an adventurer who happens to be high in the Andes when thing go badly wrong for the planet. Of course, it's heavily influenced by Conrad's Heart of Darkness, in fact, the introductory chapters borrow much of the staging. But once things are under way, it veers widely away from the detail and follows merely the plot.
It contains themes of drugs, love and egotism, but the main drive is the passage of time. In fact, that's why it's been so long in the writing. Trying to comb the void between the periods of the main character's life that occur in the narrative is the most challenging of tasks. The current methodology is to deploy starkly differing styles, but this Joycean approach seems to have lost ground on the page, perhaps due to its popularity on the screen.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting the ideas out of my head. There's only one way to move on and that's to put stuff on paper. I've met too many people, some too close for comfort, who walk around telling the same stories. I catch myself doing it too and I hate it. The worst is when they're stories that I lifted from someone else. No, when I lifted them from someone renowned for rehashing the same old anecdotes.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favourite authors are the people living their lives and slogging through one new chapter after another. I don't mean writers and I surely don't mean the faceless masses. People who seize an idea and live by it. They don't leave words on paper, but they inspire artists. And artists inspire new ideas. Without people writing new stories, of love or of hate, there will be nothing to lead the masses our of their own stagnation.
Talking about actual books, there's very few of my favourite author's still living. But you won't find amongst them any that you haven't heard of scores of times.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Living. I've slogged out most of my adolescent experiences onto the page. Since that source has not only dried up but also become immature, I've entered a new world. This new environment stimulates me at the highest possible levels of intensity (which is something after braving some of the America's most dangerous places).
Of course, I try to strike the balance of work, rest and play. Sometimes it's had to fit in the latter two, but not always. There's a continual stream of activity and sometimes what seems like work is actually rest, and what seems like play is actually work. That's why I spend so much time accounting for what I've been doing. It's time well spent and the knowledge that it produces is as powerful as the most effective of recreational drugs.
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Books by This Author

Lies and Hypocrisy
You set the price! Words: 103,760. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2016 by Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
Having become an enraged victim, Sammy sets out to enact his vengeance, but instead entangles himself with the man he’d wanted to kill. There might be six degrees of separation in life, but there are only three in death and two in murder.
Neocon Hard-on
You set the price! Words: 10,500. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2015 by Categories: Poetry » Themes & motifs » General, Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
Mel Vil's latest volume of vitriolic poetry ups the ante and addresses the broader issues of today's rotten society. Neocon Hard-on is the acid reflux of the great depression. He targets the antagonists of peace, privacy and harmony, painting them in vividly real colours.
The Heart Worm
You set the price! Words: 55,770. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2015 by Categories: Fiction » Romance » Clean & wholesome, Fiction » Romance » New adult
Sal is an over-privileged rugby player, and he's struggling to recover from the injury that ended his career. Having assumed that his future was set, he had never bothered to learn how to treat people. Now he begins clinging at straws. The first is a Latin beauty, who soon disappears from his life. And so, alone and foolishly and daunted, he sets off into the middle of a civil war...
Inside Insight: A collection of poems
You set the price! Words: 9,140. Language: English. Published: May 28, 2014 by Categories: Poetry » Contemporary Poetry, Poetry » U.K. Poetry
There is little for the timid or weak of heart. Nor will the optimist find much grist for his or her mill. There are sparks, but not of hope. They are the kind which start disagreements ending in red-mist. Driven, too far, without reason. Scarred, too early, without resolution. Inside there may be insight, but there is nothing to envy in viewing the world from this man's point of view.
Buenos Aires and the Origins of Sausse
You set the price! Words: 15,820. Language: English. Published: April 21, 2014 by Categories: Poetry » Themes & motifs » Places, Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
Take a ride through the gritty streets of the underworld and stand alongside low-ranking drug dealers as they pedal their wares to the ever dwindling middle class porteños and the ever burgeoning European backpacking tourists. An anthology of poetry based on Mel Vil's travels in South America, the time he spent in Buenos Aires and the road to Bolivia.
Elevated: an Anthology of Short Stories
You set the price! Words: 26,540. Language: English. Published: December 9, 2013 by Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Literature » Literary
No art form prevails over the other. No trip to South America either. In life, as in art, one may wander alone down an untrodden path, but all must advance together. These stories uncover some of the darker sides of both life and art. Strap yourself in, open your mind and step into a world.
Buenos Aliens
You set the price! Words: 127,890. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: November 22, 2013 by Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
Three friends stand at the entrance to the members-only club that is the Buenos Aires underworld. They journey past the point of no return accompanied by a cicerone of dubious quality. The story takes place in the mid-naughties, a time when Buenos Aires was dealing with the fallout of a political and economic crisis that had engulfed the entire country.