Shane Norwood

Author Pic, -c- Ximena Sorondo Norwood

Painting (c) Ximena Sorondo Norwood.

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Zharmae Bibliography:

The Big Bamboo Series:

Machine Gun Jelly (S&E): Published May 2014

The Chameleon Fallacy (S&E): Available in April 2015

The Big Bamboo (S&E): Available in April 2016

Standalones:

Looking for Mowgli (Max Avalon Short): Published January 2014

The Fishermen of the River Styx (PP): Available in October 2015

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A line in Ulysses reads, “Only the sacred pint can unbind the tongue of Dedalus.” Shane Norwood firmly believes this, just as he believes that it would be foolish in the extreme to argue with James Joyce. For this reason he has dedicated himself to the diligent consumption of copious amounts of booze before sitting down to write, in an effort to emulate the great ones. How successful this experiment turns out to be remains to be seen, but in the meantime it can be safely said that Shane Norwood seriously enjoys his writing.

Shane is a devoted family man who keeps food on the tables by walking around in circles in Chile masquerading as a casino manager, and occasionally pretending to be Robert Mitchum.  Shane was born in a steel town in the north of England in 1955. Shane has five children. He is engaged in a breeding competition with his eldest daughter who is currently winning six to five. Although his soul knows it is English because of the larceny that lurks therein, the rest of him is no longer sure. One daughter is American, one is from Kenya, one son is from South Africa, two sons are from Chile, his wife is from Argentina, his horse is an Arab, and his dog is Italian. At one time Shane was a fisherman in Hawaii. In his heart he still is, although he hopes that, pretty soon, he will also be able to think of himself as a writer.

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The “Author Exposed!” Interview:

or, Things We’d All Like To Know…

 

- You, the Author –

Why do you write?

I write for the same reason that wolves howl. To speak to the great silence that I feel but don’t understand. I write to leave behind a voice that will speak for me to my children when I am gone. I write because I enjoy it, and because writing is like learning to play a musical instrument. The more you practice the more you learn and the better you get, and the better you get the more you enjoy it.

I write as a declaration of independence, a rebellion to liberate myself from an environment full of plastic corporate wankers talking a load of shit, in the fervent hope that one day I will be successful enough to be able to tell them to suck my rebel dick, and devote myself to writing full time, thus allowing me to grow a big Gandalf beard and sit on a beach in Tahiti drinking Veuve Clicquot all day and telling outrageous lies to suckers.

Finally I harbor an invincible belief that one day I will produce something truly memorable.

What do you write?

I write superficial lies and essential truths. All fiction is a lie, although most people prefer the term imagination. If I write for example, “Riddick U. Luss woke up one day to the realization that he had forgotten his wife’s name,” I am lying. No he didn’t. I just made that up. But contained within that lie is an essential truth about the human condition.

For me writing has no rules save one. The work should be enjoyable. I aspire to entertain people. I try to provoke thought, to beguile, to surprise, and to produce stories and characters that resonate in the mind long after the book is finished. I want people to finish the book and feel like a friend has just gone away.

I can write just about anything. Apart from the books that I have signed with Zharmae, I have written a children’s book, a modern day Greek Tragedy set in the Caribbean, some unconventional poetry, and some short stories. I am in the process of producing another book in the Big Bamboo series, and a Western.

Who inspires you? 

In terms of writing, anyone who has ever written a book. Even if it was the worst book ever written. Even if it was the most egregious clichéd irredeemable crock of unmitigated shite from start to finish the fact is that the person did it. That they had the will to persevere and to set down the words that they thought were right. For every Vladimir Nabokov there is some poor schmo sitting in a dingy room wrestling with a clapped out typewriter sitting next to a wastepaper basket full of crumpled pieces of paper, struggling to produce his masterpiece that no one will ever read, and good for him. And somewhere else, in some draw somewhere, there is a manuscript containing words of such profound beauty as to stand with anything that was ever written, and for whatever reason it will remain forever in darkness like some flower that never grows, and somebody’s heart may be broken because of it, and good for them too.

Who are your influences?

As writers, Hemingway, Thomas Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy, John Steinbeck, J.P. Donleavy, Joseph Conrad, Henry Miller, James Joyce, Herman Melville, and Raymond Chandler. Tom Waits can tell a better story in one song than I can in a whole book, and so can Randy Newman. So could Frank Zappa.

What are your three most favorite books and why?

That is a seriously difficult question. If you asked me what I thought the three best books ever written were, I would say Ulysses, The Tropic of Cancer, and Heart of Darkness. If you asked me the same question tomorrow I would say Gravity’s Rainbow, The Autumn of the Patriarch, and Moby Dick. My three favorite books are The Old Man and The Sea, Blood Meridian, and Cannery Row. You couldn’t change a word in any of them, each one demonstrates absolute mastery of the language and conjures up indelible images and insinuates meanings that that are far more than the sum total of the words.  Alchemy and genius, pure and simple.

- The Mechanics -

How do you write?

I don’t set out to compose the books, the books kind of write themselves. It is as if they are already there waiting to be set down on paper, and I am just a scribe who writes the words.

Where do you like to write?

The beauty of writing is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Out running, driving, sitting in the garden, in a bar, the ideas come. It is just a question of having some way to write them down. Then I like to type in the early hours of the morning, when it is dark and quiet, and one can really focus. Plus the ambiance at that hour feeds the imagination. The peace, the stars, a distant train, a dog barking, someone passing in the street, it is a very atmospheric time of day, and very conducive to writing.

Do you set a goal of so many pages per day, or something else?

No. I just let it roll. Sometimes the ideas come so fast that I struggle to get them all down, before I forget. I don’t try to force it. I don’t have any discipline in that sense. Sometimes you can write better by not writing. If nothing is happening I leave it until I get inspired again. But it’s a bit like photography. You have to capture the moment or either you will miss it, or it will be something else.

What program(s) or tool(s) do you use to write?

A note book (a real one, not a laptop), Rich Text, and hard liquor.

What do you do when you get stuck on a problem which blocks the writing process?

Drink copious amounts of Guinness. Actually I don’t get stuck very often. If I do encounter a dilemma I do what I do when I can’t remember a name or a word. I stop thinking about it, and when it’s ready the answer just materializes out of nowhere.

Do you envision the entire story at once and just fill in as you go, or do you just see where the writing takes you and troubleshoot as necessary?

I am totally disorganized. I start with a character or a phrase or a concept, maybe a piece of dialogue, and just wing it and let the plot develop and I follow where it leads. Plus I don’t write sequentially. This creates problems later on trying reconcile all the information. I have tried to be logical and structured and start with a plot outline, but it doesn’t work for me and I don’t enjoy it as much. I like the idea that I don’t know what the plot is myself. It is like reading and writing at the same time.

What do you have the most fun with during the creative process?

As weird as it sounds, for me the best thing is that at my age my memory is not what is used to be. Plus, I like to have a few beers or a bottle of wine while I write. This means that by the time I get to the end, and start the revision, I can’t actually remember in detail everything that I have written, so it is like reading it for the first time myself.

Do you have any special rituals or superstitious behaviors you must follow while writing?

I don’t have any special rituals or superstitious behaviors that I must follow when I’m not writing.

- Human You -

What is a cherished memory from your life you’d like to share?

All my memories are cherished, even the bad ones. They are the story of our days that make us who we are. I remember getting a mail from Travis telling me he’d like to sign my work, and I’m going to cherish the shit out of that one let me tell you.

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or something else entirely?

I like single malt Scotch whisky, beer, wine, and black coffee. I remember I drank of glass of water once. It was a Wednesday in 1973. I detest tea, which for an Englishman is tantamount to treason. I am particularly fond of a drink served in Trinidad, which is dark and light rum poured into a freshly cut coconut, known locally as the Cadillac of drinks.

What comes first, the chicken or the alien egg?

Neither. Chickens don’t have orgasms and the alien egg was faking it.

What is your favorite  {witticism} ? (Author’s Choice.)

It comes from the former Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam. He was in a heated debate with a certain Sir Winton Turnbull.

At one point Sir Winton shouts, “I am a Country Member.”

To which Gough replies, “I remember.”

- This Particular Story: Machine Gun Jelly -

Who do you most identify with in this work?

Most authors have an alter ego, and the character that has the most of me in him is Baby Joe Young. Sinks a pint or two and likes to think of himself as a bit of a philosopher. The one I enjoy the most is Monsoon Parker because he is such an unprincipled sleaze, and he speaks like me.

Why this story?

It wasn’t supposed to be this story. In Vegas the old timers will tell you that things were better when the mob ran the show. As long as you kept your nose clean, the boys took care of you. That was before the corporations tried to Disneyfy the joint. But the business hasn’t changed, only the presentation. I have always resented this repackaging. I wanted to write a hard core thriller about the way things really are. But once I started I decided it wasn’t going to pan out. For one thing, the framework I had in mind was too small for all the things I wanted to say. For another, I started thinking about Raymond Chandler, and realized I was getting into the ring with the wrong guy. Then for no apparent reason the question “Are you Tiger Woods?” came into my mind, and I just went from there.

Who do you think would be most affected by or touched by this work?

Anyone who thinks that Humphrey Bogart should have turned Paul Henreid over to the Germans and gotten on the plane with Ingrid Bergman.

What is a profound memory from this title’s writing process?

It is more of a revelation than a memory. I wrote this book years ago. It was my third book. I was living in Las Vegas at the time, and was in a bad place in my mind. I felt trapped, and writing the book was a kind of escape. Of the three books I had written up to that point, I thought it was the worst. I think it was some kind of cynical attempt to write something commercial. Anyway, things happened and the world turned and changed and I forgot all about the writing, until about two years ago, when I decided to try again. The only book I had a copy of was this one. When I sat down to read it again after all that time, I actually found myself laughing in places. So I thought, shit, this is not bad. With a bit of work it could be pretty good. It was at that point that I decided to persevere.

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