Simon Logan - interview (2006)
Updated by Draconina on 08/10/2007 13:14
2006-08-02 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz and Brian Backlash | e-mail interview
Brian Backlash: You're a writer of 'industrial' and 'fetishcore' fiction. How do you feel your work expresses those terms in a literary sense?

Simon Logan: I've always felt that the best work that any artist can do comes from them when they are reflecting themselves in their work to the greatest degree - that is to say, imbuing their work with their own interests, passions and obsessions rather than just doing what they think they should do or what others are doing. I used my own interests in fetish culture and industrial music as a basis for creating stories which were more personal to me and my obsessions. In the case of industrial music it was the multi-layered approach, the sense of dark, forboding machinery and alienation whereas with fetishcore it was more an attempt to create a world within which the images of fetish photography could exist and flourish.

NINa: How long have you been writing so far?

About 12 years or so. I amn't one of those people who started writing stories for their family and binding them with staples when they were eight, I only started writing when I was about 16 so am a fairly late starter in that regard.

Brian: You garnered a good deal of initial attention when you began writing short stories and had many avenues with which to promote your work. What made you decide to walk away from more mainstream styles of writing pursue a more defined stylistic approach?

It wasn't really an attempt to write something more stylistic as such, I just realised one day that I was writing what I thought it was that people wanted to read, or what I should write, and that that made no sense. It bothered me that I could read a story written by someone in their 50s from the North of Scotland and another by someone in their 20s from Vermont and that there was often no appreciable difference between the two. Surely the whole value in creating something is to add something new to the world so if you're just copying what is already around then you're wasting your time. I made a concerted effort to write stories that were more reflective of me and my interests and I think that in itself implicitly means the stories will be different in theme and style.

Brian: What is it about industrial music that you find so influential to your creative endeavours?

I just loved the feel of it and the sensations it evoked. It was what I was listening to at the time and I guess if I had been musically inclined then I would have tried to create some music of my own but since that wasn't the case writing stories that reflected the same sort of feel as the music in literary form was the next best thing. I actually think that my most "natural" form of expression would be movies because I am more obsessed with visuals than I am words and often feel that words limit the ideas that I'm trying to express but I couldn't deal with the whole social nature of movies so I'll settle for writing.

Brian: Your first full length novel, "Pretty Little Things to Fill Up the Void" is due to be published soon. Do you look at the book as a crowning achievement of your work, or just a stepping stone to bigger things?

I guess it's the culmination of everything I've been working on since making a break from horror fiction more than a crowning achievement. It would be pretty worrying if it WAS my crowning achievement because it would mean that there would be no point in me doing anything else! So it's more of a stepping stone. I really just wanted to get a full-length story published that was really ME and truly reflected what it was I wanted to write, I guess to prove to myself that I could do it and to prove to everyone else that it was worthwhile. I've already completed another two short n*vels and am some way into my second full-length one so there's plenty more to come.

Brian: What authors have had the biggest imapct on your writing?

In terms of impact on my writing it would be authors such as Steve Erickson (author of The Sea Came In At Midnight and Amnesiascope), Jack O'Connell, Chuck Palahnuik and JG Ballard in that they have shown to me that you can write stories that use genre stylings and the power of genre fiction to enhance a strong literary story. I love authors who twist our own world rather than create a new one from scratch (which always seems like an act of ego to me) and who look at subcultures which are essentially worlds within worlds.

NINa: William Gibson, Philip K. Dick or A. & B. Strugatsky - whose works could be labelled industrial?

I'm not exactly sure what the definition of industrial is, to be honest - it was really only ever meant as a mental guide for myself rather than an overt attempt to create a genre with defined features and rules. I guess each of those writers have elements of industrial stylings in some of their works.

Brian: Do you listen to music when you write? Are there any particular albums that help fuel your creativity?

Not really, I tend to prefer isolation of all senses when I'm writing and would find music too distracting, plus I'd probably end up accidentally weaving song lyrics into the sentences! That said I CAN write when there is other stuff going on. I tend to get my inspiration beforehand and let it sit inside my head and bubble away, whether it's music, movies, books or whatever, so by the time I actually sit down to write I don't need the inspiration or motivation.

Brian: What initially turned you on to creative writing?

Tough question. I guess a simple answer would be that I gave it a go, I enjoyed it and it felt pretty easy and natural for me. You tend to try different things and some things you find really difficult, others you find easy and you tend towards the ones you find more easy. I was always an entirely average student and never really excelled at anything so to do something that I felt I had some control over and was fairly capable at was great. Writing often feels like a compulsion more than something that I want to do.

NINa: Do you rely on your dreams or visions when you make a storyboard?

No, never. My girlfriend always teases me because my dreams are always so silly - it would end up like a Monty Python sketch if I used my dreams for inspiration! HERS on the other hand .... :) I must have a clean psyche or something because I never have nightmares or dark dreams. Is it more disturbing that the images and ideas in my writing come when I am fully awake and conscious?

Brian: They say 'life imitates art.' Would you say that that is true in your case?
Definitely not! It's almost entirely the other way around.

NINa: Could you tell us please the most memorized dream you have ever had?

A few times I've had dreams where I've dreamt about the flat I stayed in having extra rooms and going into these rooms and strange things are going on in them. Then weeks or even months later I've had another dream and the same rooms are there, exactly as they were before, as if my mind has become convinced that THAT is the real flat. But as I said, I must exorcise all my demons during the day because I rarely have interesting or memorable dreams.

Brian: A large swath of literature produced these days lacks any sense of danger or taboo. Is your work a conscious attack on the norm, or simply a reaction?

It's not so much a conscious attempt to subvert or attack norms, more just a disregard for them. I think you can end up being too contrived if you deliberately set out to be subversive or different as you'll end up worrying too much about if what you're doing is subversive or not. I'll just write whatever comes to mind, whatever works, and if it's acceptable then fine but if it's a little bit edgy then so be it. That said, I don't really think that anything I've written is particularly dangerous or breaks any taboos though maybe others might disagree. There's nothing I hate more than writers (particularly in the horror genre) who boast about how twisted and fucked up their writing is but you read it and its just tame or silly.

NINa: Are you a fan of e-books or paper books more?

I've never really read e-books so I'd have to say paper books. That's not to say i have a problem with e-books but I guess I spend enough time in front of the computer that it's good to get a break from the screen and read for a bit so the idea of having to read on-screen isn't exactly appealing. In terms of publishing too it's a world of difference holding a books in your hands with your name on it compared to opening a PDF with your name on it.

Brian: What do you hope your readers will take away from your stories?

On a basic level, just to enjoy them. I've had plenty email from people who are making contact just to say that they really liked my work and that it was different to what they'd read before and connected with them somehow and that's great. If i wanted more than just that simple enjoyment then there are certain themes and ideas, particularly in my longer works, that I hope might get people thinking a little bit more. A lot of my second-generation industrial stories (those written after my first short story collection I-O was published) have a more political edge to them so I hope that sometimes those messages come across to people. Certainly PLTTFUTV has a political thread to it since it deals with suicide bombers, the one I'm currently working on deals with revolutionaries and the one I have planned next integrates ideas of animal rights.

NINa: What is your favourite movie with an industrial background?

There's not that many of them around to be honest, not that I think of anyway, but one which stands out is Brad Anderson's "The Machinist". I saw it at the Edinburgh Film Festival a couple of years ago and it was the first movie that I'd seen that visualised a lot of what I'd been writing. I'd seen Anderson's previous film, Session 9, and it had been one of those little gems that you pick up and don't expect a lot from then are taken aback by how good it is. It wasn't the same style as The Machinist but it had elements (chemical cleaners, biohazards) that popped up in my own work as well so it seems that Anderson has similar interests to my own. He was actually at that screening and if I'd known I would have brought a copy of I-O with me to give him - as it was I ended up sending it to his agent instead.

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