Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you not aware the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Brutus I just wish you would be a bit more gentle with our guest. Please removed the tape, Thank you.
(indistinct mumbling) (Tape is ripped from Austrian’s mouth)
Welcome to the clubhouse Austrian. My apologies for Brutus’ treatment of you.
Ah. Agh. Wow. Thanks. Um – Paula. Can I open my eyes now? Getting entry to this place is a real experience. (clicks jaw) It’s really cool here.
Thank you. We are real lucky to have such a shaclued spot. What would you like to drink?
A drink? Thank you! Umm, you do cocktails? Great. I’ll have a Homeboy, please. (grins) Yep – you won’t have heard of it before. It’s a creation of an old work colleague I owned a bar with.
It’s a caipirinha base (crushed lime slices and brown sugar), then crushed ice to the top of the glass (0,33 Libby glass).
2cl Kahlua (a coffee-based liquor)
2cl Southern Comfort (a whiskey-based liquor)
Top up with mango/orange juice. Shaken, not stirred. Literally the best drink that exists on the planet. You’re welcome.
Now we have our drinks are you ready?
Ok. I’m ready for your questions about The Sadeiest, my Paranormal Horror novel that’s being released by Darkstroke Books on 27th November. Shoot!
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I’m brutally honest and direct, and I am really enthusiastic with experimentation. I use short, sharp sentences to dictate breathing tempo. I use format as king. If there is a pregnant pause in the text, I represent it. If wind affects someone hearing something, I miss words out. It’s a comic readers perspective brought to novels – a visual effect that resounds, I think, with my audience.
One thing I would like to be better at, is female representation. I think the Bechdel test is one of the best things that happened to modern novels. And way past time. The same is true of POC representation. I didn’t make Williams black as a political point though, it was just a very natural decision. He was a black Englishman from the first sentence.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Lol. I’m writing the next book in the series, The Masocheist. I’ve had the series in my head for the last 25 years. I know exactly what I want to happen, when, how, and the method it will be presented in, and in what order. Yep. I’m that nerd.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors, can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
Ok. Wow. So, actually, I pay homage in the Sadeiest to several authors, it’s a part of the easter egg hunt I have set up in the novel, so without giving to much away:
1: Alan Moore. I have to. His work is just the most thought out, brilliant, detailed genius. It’s not easy to read, but his work transcends art. There are massive sections of the Sadeiest set up as tribute to him. Literal lines of text I have quoted to see if anyone noticed. Halo Jones. Watchmen. V for vendetta. From Hell. Genius. Now see if you can find my little homages.
2. Stephen King. And here’s the thing, I have read maybe five of his books. That’s all. But I am a person that admires commitment, and he is a man that has committed his entire life to his art form. I hid the title of one of his books in the novel. Nobody found it yet.
3. Iain Banks. It killed me to hear he died, I love his culture series, mind bending. The player of games and Use of weapons are two of my favourite books ever, though I love Inversions for all the things it doesn’t say. If you know the culture, reading that book shows you how to write nothing yet tell your reader everything. It kills me that he’s gone.
4. Neil Gaiman. For concept. I was a young man when Sandman started its run, old enough to understand the genius. I must admit I actually don’t really like his novels, and I don’t like his new additions to the sandman run, but for conceptual world building, he was a guiding light. Every white point of light in Williams eye sockets is a tip of the hat to one phenomenal frame in the Sandman, when he knows, he KNOWS he has to die.
5. Isaac Asimov. That’s an unusual one, but I guess when I am being a dry factster when detailing gory death, that’s his factual influence. I loved the Foundation series. I obsessed about collecting his massive list of books. I tracked them all down (just the fiction stories), and was in a bookstore, buying the last missing book I didn’t own, when I heard over the radio that he had died. I raced home and devoured the book, only to regret that, afterwards, I would never read anything he had written for the first time, again. I swore not to repeat the mistake, and have, for example, an unread Iain Banks book at home, which I will always look forward to reading when I feel ready to say goodbye.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Ow. I guess. In a way. I have a character that is the least represented in the book because he’s such a massive influence in the second part, The Masocheist. But due to the detailed structure to the book, he had to be in the first part too. Tom is a Sadeiest that cannot retain memories. Without giving too much away, he can’t even remember his name or his appearance, so he is a shifting, amorpheous blob that snaps back into form when not stressed, which is not often. I guess he is an unconscious representation of my mother, who has late stage Alzheimer’s.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
Er… Are you ready for this?
I had to research ways to remove a face, the effects of drugs to relieve pain, and how to keep a person alive through trauma.
I had to practice keeping a razor blade in my mouth and practise spitting it out, if I could do it fast enough to cause injury (That was really, really scary. I kept thinking I would swallow it and it would look like I had killed myself. Not surprisingly, I didn’t tell my family I was trying it out…).
I also had to research the physical effects of freezing to death and was in contact with Austrian/Canadian/American mountain rescue for a month, learning different help signals. Surprisingly, they aren’t universal.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I am totally colourblind, my little fingers never grew (they are tiny in comparison to the rest of my hands, making playing the piano impossible) and I woke up in hospital aged 8 with no memory. I had been hit by a truck. My life starts with me being introduced to my parents.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
Very, very rarely. I write when the time is right, and it just flows out like it’s been waiting for me to decide to let it. I don’t know why it works like that, but it does. I’ve had no major revisions. Pretty much everything I have written has fallen onto the page as it remains today, with only corrections to fine tune required. The benefit of lots of time planning I guess.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I do. My real name isn’t a secret, it’s Andy. When I moved to Austria and married, my dad would be talking to his friends and if he talked about me, he would refer to the “Austrian Spencers”. My mum developed Alzheimer’s a while ago and in an attempt to help her remember who we were, we produced a photo album full of pictures of us and our family, and called it the Austrian Spencers. Then Brexit happened. And I was so frustrated with it, due to having no right to vote against it. So I decided right there, that I’d call myself Austrian from that point on. It felt like England had turned it’s back on its ex-pats, even though we were the people that were representing England in foreign countries all this time. You know when English people go drunk abroad and vandalize things? The ex pat shave to shoulder that impression. And we were all just dropped like dead weight.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I know exactly what I need to know about my characters after 25 years of them living in my head. Their names just sprang to me from the word go. I knew Williams was called that, and Henreich too – I hated the name Heinrich but wanted something similar to Henry but European and just made his name up, and it was like it was always meant to be. Sinclair is named after one of my best friends, as is Dave, the janitor. Greta was Greta long before the eco warrior. And Mortis was just a natural fit.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The “Rot” sex scene. I can write about people burning to death, drowning, hanging themselves, going mad etc. But sex is a totally different set of skills. Senses are different. You have to represent reactions and sensory input from two people at the same time, and how those responses dictate each other. I took it as a challenge and wrote it as it fell. It’s something I need to get better at, but not in the next book. The next book is a lot darker, nastier and foreboding. We really get into Death, and John learns the hard way what being hunted actually means.
Here’s the links to my books – The Sadeiest –
My short story “Krampus” is in the Burial Day Blue Book 6 – A Krampus Carol –
Thank you so much for joining us here today, Austrian. Please take your time looking around and when you’re ready to leave, just let Brutus know.
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.