Hello there, it’s been a while but I’ve been very busy hacking the US election in the hope of making myself the President, it has not gone well….so instead here is an interview with the mighty Anti-Poet-Laureate Harry Whitewolf who has just released two new books Woooooo Book 1 is a collaboration with Daniel Clausen and is called “They’re Making It Up As They Go Along” and the second book is a collection of poetry called “The Gulag Village Green”. So please dress up as a gnome and welcome Harry to the Interview.
Q1: How have you been handling the pandemic? Releasing 2 books must have meant you’ve been pretty busy.
Before 2020, I was quite happy spending most of my time at home (as I work from home anyway). But as soon as I was forced to be in that position, and as soon as I started to see the lockdowns and new rules as heavily questionable, the more I got angry. But I used that anger to write The Gulag Village Green.
And it was good to do another book that’s the complete opposite of my new poetry book, ‘cos They’re Making It Up As They Go Along was a purely do-it-for-fun project of extreme comedic silliness. The two books kind of sum up my two different moods of 2020.
Q2: “They’re Making It Up As They Go Along” is another collaboration with Daniel Clausen, how many is that now? How does it work doing a book with somebody else? Also how did you first get together?
It’s only our second collaboration, and the first project we’ve actually written jointly, as the pieces in ReejecttIIon were solo pieces. The last chapter of the book, however, was written taking turns.
That chapter was the inspiration for the experimental book They’re Making It Up As They Go Along. The premise was simple: me and Daniel would start writing a book without knowing what it was going to be about whatsoever, taking it in turn to write segments of a few hundred words. We ended up with a crazy and highly comedic novella about robots, aliens, and penises.
Me and Daniel first got together when Daniel held me up at gun point wearing a gorilla costume, but we have a good laugh about it now.
Seriously, though, Daniel Clausen is a fantastic writer, and we have a very similar sense of humour (Daniel’s telling me it’s “humor”), so it was a joy to write with the geezer.
Q3: “The Gulag Village Green” is your new book of poetry, I know in the past your work has been a bit controversial, what can we expect this time?
Hm, I wouldn’t say my books are particularly controversial, other than my conspiracy-themed book Matrix Visions. But, in fact, The Gulag Village Green could potentially be a very controversial book indeed if people misunderstand what I’m saying, as in some ways it could feel like I’m attacking the very groups I’ve always stood up for. To give you an idea of what I mean, in the synopsis I say: “Harry vehemently believes in standing up against racism and transphobia, but he also believes in standing up against the calls for censorship and word-control coming from some in the BLM and trans communities.” That kind of outspokenness is actually becoming very risky. And that’s the point of me highlighting it. I’m not attacking BLM or the trans community. I’m attacking censorship.
And I’m having a go at “the Left” as much as I’ve always had a go at “the Right”. Trying to get the correct balance in this book was tricky. But it’s the pandemic, lockdowns, new draconian laws, and ludicrousness of 2020 that pulls the book together. And my stance on all that is certainly an alternative view point, so I guess it’s pretty controversial to mainstream audiences who only ever listen to what Piers bloody Morgan has to say.
Q4: Now for the important question….any gnomes get featured in the new books? If not why not?
No, no, no, no, no! Why not? Because your very blog name and gnome gallery evolved out of banter being had on goodreads.com after discovering our pal Rupert Dreyfus’ book The Rebel’s Sketchbook mentioned “gnome fetish”. And several years on, here we are still talking about bloody gnomes!
Q5: Do you have a particular process whilst writing? Do you listen to music at the same time?
I’ll write poetry and ideas in notebooks while I’m listening to music, but other than that, I need complete silence to be able to write. I don’t understand how people can write prose or edit when they’re listening to tunes, despite the fact I know many writers who do. What’s my process for writing? Well, you can find my list of “Harry Whitewolf’s Rules for Writing Poetry” in The Gulag Village Green. What I can tell you is, I only write when I am compelled to. Which is why I didn’t write anything for a couple of years and have now come back in full force in 2020 with three releases! (January’s Broken Albion being the other one, but no one cares about Brexit now anyway, even though we’re all about to become fucked by it.)
Q6: My favourite book from what you done wroted is “Route Number 11: Argentina, Angels & Alcohol” it is a very unique method of writing. Care to explain how it works and why you decided to write it like that.
Thank you matey! There are a few different writing methods going on in Route Number 11. Firstly, the short, sharp, snippets of often alliterative poetic writing were simply a result of my style evolving over many years. If you read my early work, like Propaganda Monkeys, you’ll see hints of my later writing style. But also, the writing style of Route Number 11 just felt like it came out of nowhere. I was basically inventing a style as I wrote, which is why it’s rough around the edges.
Secondly, the chapters of Route Number 11 aren’t in chronological order. Thirdly, the segments of each chapter aren’t in chronological order. I was playing with the cut-up prose ideas of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, but doing it in a different way, where the segments themselves aren’t cut-up, but the whole book is. But more than anything, doing the book in that way was my attempt at summing up what travel FEELS like. The book would also have been a helluva lot more boring if I’d have written it all in chronological quaint travel-book fashion. Route Number 11 isn’t supposed to be a travel book. Nor is it supposed to be a memoir. At the nearest, it’s supposed to be in the spirit of Kerouac. I don’t think everyone gets what I’m trying to do with my travel tales, and that’s fine. But one thing I’m not trying to do is fit into any goddamn genre.
Q7: You mention quite a lot of conspiracy theories and one that has messed up my life the most is the 11:11 theory. Can you give us a rundown of what it is about and then we can mess up a few more lives.
Well, the 11:11 Phenomenon sounds like nothing to those who’ve never experienced it. It begins by noticing 11:11 all the time, everywhere, where it becomes so much more than coincidental. Looking at the clock: 11:11, getting change in a shop of £11:11 and then walking out the shop and seeing a taxi go past with the numbers 111 on the side and then looking at your bank balance and finding you’ve got £111.11, for example. This scene from the film I Origin is exactly what I’ve been experiencing for about twenty years:
But then 11:11 becomes wackier. Once it starts happening to you, you look it up online and find thousands of people around the world experience it. Not only that, but 11:11 is sometimes almost-subliminally placed into films, which implies a conspiratorial angle. For example, all the clocks in the film Joker are set at 11:11. Interestingly, the GMT time of the Mayan end date in 2012 was also 11:11. And the way the world’s going at the moment, maybe the Maya were right after all…
This phenomenon is so weird, I sent these questions to Harry in the morning, a bit later I had to go see the mother-in-law, I happened to glance at the clock whilst driving and it was 11:11!
Q8: As you are a fellow Red Dwarf fan can you tell me your favourite scene, what cracks you up every time?
Ah mate, so many to choose from, as you know only too well. Just one line from Norman Lovett can crack me up. But I think it has to be the scene from the episode Polymorph where Kryten, complete with groinal-attachment-hoover, is removing Lister’s ever-shrinking boxer shorts which the shape-shifting Polymorph has turned itself into, as Rimmer enters and says, “I can’t say I’m totally shocked. You’ll bonk anything, won’t you Lister?”
I know this was a bit of a mean question as it is so tough to pick a favourite, for me it is the “everybody’s dead Dave” scene, which I expect wouldn’t be as funny without Norman Lovett.
Q9: Can you remember the first book you fell in love with?
As an adult, at around the age of 18, it was Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. As a kid, it’s a toss-up between Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat, The Shrinking of Treehorn, and The Twits.
Q10: What is your favourite meal? And if you could pick one person to share that meal with who would you pick?
A veggie Madras. With you, silly!
Woohoo! What an answer! That there is gonna be what wins me a Nobel Prize!
Q11: This question is from my daughter as I told her that you know Mr Wolf. “Is Mr Wolf going to be doing another book soon?
Aw, bless. I’ve just had a quick chat with my mate Mr. Wolf and he tells me he wrote a book about three years ago that gets an edit about once a year, that needs a change of ending and illustrations doing. It could take another three years before it’s published at this rate. But then Mr. Wolf is a lazy ****. Sorry Gnome Master’s daughter. I’ll see if I can give him a nudge to get things moving along.
Practical task: I am doing a gnome gallery on my blog, can you create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece.
Many thanks go to Harry for taking part in this interview and for keeping me entertained for a few years now with his poetry. Please go an check out his books, for a sample check out his readings on Soundcloud.