Interview with Basil Papademos

Describe your desk
I live in a dumpy hotel in Bangkok and my desk is kind of a classic writer's set up. In other words, it's a mess of notebooks, food, coffee cups, loose sheets of handwritten notes, full ashtrays, cigarette packs, motorcycle magazines, all sorts of crap.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I was about 8 or 9. It was about my mother having an affair, which was not actually true to the best of my knowledge. And I'm old enough that this was on a Brother electric typewriter. My father found it and went nuts. It was not a happy time.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans? I get the odd stalker. Okay, I'm kidding. Well, not entirely... A lot of my 'fans' are women over forty. Makes sense, I guess, since I write about relationships with my contemporaries, whether they be those burning-hot, short-lived acts of mutual madness and despair or something that lasts longer and is more involved. I get a fair number of explicit letters and sometimes fairly personal photos from other lonely lunatics in far flung corners of the world, a bit unhinged, living circumscribed lives, making big sacrifices for families, careers, god knows what. I hear about a lot of plans to finally break free of all that once the kids are old enough and the guy's been dumped after securing decent alimony, a lot of fantasies of running off to exotic locales, getting bold and pervy and reading a lot more.
I get some requests for advice as well. Seems bizarre. The characters I write about have utterly fucked up lives. But I guess they get a lot of sex and intimacy so maybe that's why I'm asked how that works. It's all rather mysterious to me, a total stranger writing and asking very personal questions, sending very personal information and images.
I wish I knew the answer to anything but I don't. I barely know how to get up and write every day.
In terms of the writing itself, one very valuable thing I get from readers is when they tell me they understood something that I hadn't intended nor even thought of. They are like a mirror and gives me new information about writing and my own motives.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I don't know if writing is about joy or redemption or trying to pursue some sort of answer. One way writing feels like validation is it gives me the opportunity to try to bring back people, times and places that are gone forever. I suppose it's also a sense of permanence, stability. My life has always been pretty unstable, going from pillar to post, so a finished and published book does make me feel I've actually accomplished something tangible.
What are you working on next?
I'm in the terminal stages of hacking together a new novel called How To F*ck Your Psychiatrist. Yes, the title is tongue in cheek - or perhaps tongue in somewhere else. It should be out in Fall of 2014.
Who are your favorite authors?
I like all kinds of writing, from ancient writers like Livy, Juvenal, moving on to Rabelais, Marquis de Sade, Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson and Burroughs, Kerouac, Bukowski, Germaine Greer, Kathy Acker, Jim Carroll and many many others.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'll quote John Banville on this: "I get up and write every day to make up for the **** I've written up till this point."
Writing is largely about disappointment. If you don't like being disappointed, don't be a writer.
I wake up each day full of dread. Once I'm vertical and doing something, it gets better.
Writing well is never easy. Language is like smoke, beautiful but difficult to grasp and manipulate.
Even the great writers I love echo the same sentiment. Writing is generally not a happy pursuit.
You spend most of your time questioning your own motives, worth, intelligence, wit and so on.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm lazy so friends send me things they've read and liked and rave about.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Fretting about writing, scribbling notes by hand so I don't forget sudden ideas about something I'm writing and I love fixing and riding old Japanese motorcycles.
What is your writing process?
I usually begin ideas writing by hand, filling up cheap notebooks then transpose that stuff to my laptop. Or I might get on a roll and rattle away on the computer directly. I often begin with one word or one sentence and build on that through re-writing. As they say, writing is re-writing.
I find one of the keys is to leave a piece of writing alone for a while, get some perspective. That's not exactly a new idea but it definitely helps give you some prespective.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Princess and the Pea when I was like 5 or something. And something about a lonely clown who couldn't find a circus that would have him.
Like most writers, I'm a lifelong depresso and questioner of everything so the lonely clown thing had a definite impact.
How do you approach cover design?
My publisher had a vague idea and I asked her to let me see if I could beg my friends who are photographers, visual artists, designers, etc to take the ball and run with it. A few agreed and the result was stunning.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Live performances. I like to do a kind of off the cuff show - rather than a traditional reading. I like to engage the audience, give them a laugh, some entertainment value. I also write and do podcasts for a few magazines, including and Sabotage Times. Beyond that, marketing isn't something I find particularly interesting.
When did you first start writing?
When I was very young, five or six years of age. I imitated fairy tales.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It's a scalding hot radio-active romance between an aging raconteur and a super hot super smart, 40 year old super MILF psychiatrist. It's about their collision of mind, body and soul. A court orders James Villon to undergo psychiatrist assessment to determine if his misdeeds are premeditated and rational or acts of sudden mad compulsion. Dr. Kate Kathare is given the job of determining if he's crazy like a fox or just plain crazy.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My publisher was great at publishing but sucked big time at marketing and promotion. Like most smaller publishers, they do great work up to the point of launching the book then totally forget about it and move on to the next batch. Makes you wonder why they bother.
Published 2014-07-05.
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