Yo yo yo! What’s up my loyal followers? My first interview in ages, not since that massive fight I had with the Nobel judging committee in a B&Q car park, the delay was due to my limbs having to grow back, but all is good now. Today I’s got an interview with a proper good artist and writer, he has a book out called Field Notes: Walking the Territory, a wonderful blending of prose and art. Please jump up and down and scream out loud for Maxim Peter Griffin….
Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself, how long you been playing with the crayons?
First – some facts – My name is Maxim Peter Griffin – 39 – father to 4 sons – husband – 2 dogs (an English Springer named Banjo and a Deerhound cross from the Carpathian mountains called Meg – both rescues)
Half the time I work nights in adult social care – the other half I draw and write.
My first serious drawings were at the age of 5 or 6 – I liked knights and history – I’d draw battles, usually Hastings – all the Normans and all their rings.
I’ll list some things from my biography.
My grandfather was called Martin O’Flanagan and he was the postmaster of Skibbereen.
In 1987 I claimed ownership of Loweswater in Cumbria – my claim still stands.
My father worked on missiles and Vulcans before settling into stonemasonry.
I take the dogs on the same walk every morning – there are foxes.
As a kid, one of my bedroom windows looked out over a theatre and the mouth of the Humber, the other over an engineer’s yard where there were traction engines.
Van Morrison’s cats preferred me.
I’m currently trying to buy a haunted house.
Q2: I enjoyed looking closely at the art in Field Notes, you can see textures on some of them. Can you tell us the technique you use?
Pen and ink on paper for the most part – everything starts on paper – black paint and Sharpies – a vast quantity of masking tape – digital stuff – Humbrol.
I layer things up – doing a lot of collage lately too – turning the Shell Guide to Rural Britain into pictures of my chalks and flints.
Q3: How did you come up with the idea for the book? And why did you start at the end of October?
The book had genesis out of a few different strands of things I was doing around 2016,17 – images and words together – space and place, something local and something other – people thought it was alright and an ally in publishing helped open a few doors.
As for the October thing – everyone likes October – Halloween orange and chimney red.
That October we ended up at Woody’s Top to regroup.
I just read that Bob Dylan is fond of October Song by the Incredible String Band – we went to see Bob last week, front row – should have asked.
Also, October is the prime month – loads of geese – mushrooms – all the best parties I’ve ever been to were in October (best being Peter’s birthday party 30/10/90)
Q4: In the book you did a lot of exploring, what’s the craziest thing you found?
I found a silver cross in the middle of a field – in the clay, in the furrow – I buried it deeper because no good would come if I took it.
Worked flint, fossil trees – bits of Lancaster – musket ball – skull.
An old god in the tunnels.
42 belemnites in an hour.
Near Saltfleet there is a pillbox full of jazz magazines.
There was a shipwreck, we all saw it – but it turned into a thousand of jackdaws as we approached and flew off.
Olaf the snowman at the edge of everything.
Q5: How many millions of pounds have you made from this book? And can I borrow a few grand so I can run for PM in the next general election (Yes, I am starting early on the corruption)?
I got 500 quid a year ago for a version of the cover that didn’t get used.
Funnily enough I’ve just had my author statement through from Unbound – haven’t made a penny – not a sausage – mind you – Field Notes is up for an award next year – one never knows – that side of things doesn’t really matter.
Still, means I’ll not be jacking in the night shift yet.
Q6: Are you much of a reader? What is the best book you’ve read recently and which is the book you first fell in love with?
All the time I can – when I can – mostly on quiet nights, after Ghost Adventures.
I just read a few old books about caving – we’ve not got the geology for caves around here though – I used to live in the west country, knew some cavers and went a couple of times but they’re weird folk cavers – goblin men with dogs on the surface – PE teachers underground.
Can’t recall the first book I loved – we were a bookish house growing up – Mum and Dad were both deep readers – every room had books – Guardian every morning from the shop across the road.
Here’s a list of books I’ve got next to me while I type this
Observer Book of Geology.
Narrow Road to the Deep North – Basho.
The University of California Book of Modern and Post Modern Poetry.
The Letters of T.E. Lawrence.
3 books on cave paintings.
Modern Nature – D. Jarman.
A book of ship burials.
A book of Paul Nash.
A book of krautrockers.
Some art books – early British carving – David Jones – Dada
A wine stained copy of the big Chatwin biography that belonged to my mum
Assorted maps – on the wall is a picture of Elvis, a sea chart of Heligoland, a print by N. Latimer and a painting I made of a buffalo.
A brass crocodile, a couple of badgers skulls.
A picture of King Tubby from the paper.
Q7: Ever grown a beard or moustache? Photo needed if you have.
Q8: If you could have a meal with anybody who would you pick and what would you eat?
Chippy tea with my wife
Chicken shish with my brother
I miss pubs when they change – The White Hart at Ludford, The Mason’s Arms in Louth – perhaps a winter meal at the White Hart will be my Valhalla – Mick, the landlord, kept very pale beers and served whitebait and suet puddings, rabbit pie, pickled his own onions and if you wanted something sweet he’d offer a Caramac from behind the bar – deep stout, dogs in the back room, he still did basket meals
Q9: If you could go into a book or movie as one of the characters, which would you choose and how would you influence the story?
Ghost Dog – more pigeons and ice cream.
Rogue Male – I wouldn’t miss.
The Jackal – extra suave capers.
Q10: You got any advice for anybody out there with zero art skillz who wants to shock the world?
Make more drawings
Commit to the Quest
Don’t worry about failure
Make more drawings
Q11: You got plans for a new book? I’m looking forward to some kind of sequel to Field Notes.
Field Notes 2 aka Mother Sky : Devil Choirs at the Gates of Heaven will happen.
It is all written and drawn – just looking for a home for it.
Whatever happens I’ll keep on the good foot – keep moving – keep looking.
Practical task: I have a gnome gallery on my blog, every victim I interview gets to create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece.
here is your Gnome
Massive thanks to Maxim for taking part, I loved how the answers are using the same style as in the book and reading it like this gives it a real Jazz vibe, which reminds me I must get the location of that pillbox filled with Jazz mags. And if there are any publishers out there reading this then can you publish his next book for me? Who wouldn’t want to have “Field Notes 2 aka Mother Sky : Devil Choirs at the Gates of Heaven” on their list? If you wanna read more by this author then you can grab a copy from Unbound HERE: