Q&A! Q&A! Q&A! With Mr. Nick Harkaway


                                                     Hark_9780385352413_jkt_ap1_r1 (1)


The man above is one Mr. Nick Harkaway, author of the novels The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker, and the newly released Tigerman. Through a series of ridiculous luck and multiple rambling emails between myself and the lovely Brittany at Knopf, a rapport was established and an opportunity that this little blog has never had. A Q&A with a published author, and one whose work I truly admire! That published author is Mr. Nick Harkaway. The questions that are submitted are courtesy of my friend and co-worker Dan G, who is a huge fan of Mr. Harkaway and has also read his works (although he is currently working on Tigerman). Since he is the one who introduced me to the Gone-Away World and I already reviewed the book yesterday, I asked Dan to come up with some questions for the author. The following question and answers are in no way abridged or censored and are directly answered by the author. Enjoy.

With the Gone-Away World, Angelmaker, and now TIGERMAN, how much fun are you having writing science fiction?  How are you able to blend genres together so effortlessly?
I have no idea what to call what I write anymore! But yes, I’m having so much fun. That’s really important, actually – iif I’m not having fun, it seems obvious that you won’t either. If I’m not enjoying writing more than the other things I could be doing – watching TV, playing video games or whatever – then why on earth would you spend any time with it at all? I mean, I have a vested interest in finding my own ideas interesting – you don’t!

 io9 called Angelmaker “existential pulp.” Do you feel that is an apt description for your novels?  If so, what other novels have you read and enjoyed that you would also consider to be “existential pulp?”

I really love that existential pulp label – I get to pick anything from anywhere and put it in my books, play with it. We’ll see whether they think the new book is still in that category, or whether they make me a new one… A week ago I was called a fantasy novelist for the first time, that was a surprise. Tigerman… I have no idea what genre it belongs in. I feel I was aiming for the same in-between space as William Gibson’s Hubertus Bigend books or Louis de Bernières’ Latin American trilogy – but not quite. I think part of the blending thing is that I don’t quite know where I am – and I’m fine with that. Genres are shelving conventions, and they’re useful commercially, but I don’t see that they have any particular value to an author in the writing process, and they can potentially be harmful: “oh, no, I can’t do that, it’s not genre-appropriate!” You have to take the story where it wants to go and make that work, not try to shunt it around to suit your convenience. Stories have momentum, character, natural direction once you get to a certain point. Mess with that at your peril – the audience can feel you putting your thumb on the scales and they won’t like it.
With your experience in the film industry, have you considered turning/writing any of your books into a screenplay? If so, who would you want to direct the eventual film?

With my experience in the film industry I have an especially strong desire not to! Being a novelist is a great gig. The screenwriter is a totally different animal, and – except in rare cases – a much less well-loved one. Also, I have to make room for the possibliity that I was bad at it. But also, I made myself a three-rule guide to engagement with the movie and TV world:

1. no one will want the rights
2. if they buy the rights, they will never make the show
3. if they make the show, you will hate it.
To get past all of these you have to be massively lucky, and if any of them hurts too much you shouldn’t even consider selling your adaptation rights. That’s the way it is. 
I’m not sure that adapting your own work is necessarily a good idea. It may be. Directing is different – it’s weirdly more like being a novelist conceptually, but you have to have a particular skillset with visualising, and with working with actors… I don’t hanker for it, which you sort of have to, but I suppose you never say never, either. And of course I’d do any of it if that was the price of getting a movie made that I was excited about – for the right fee. Moviemaking is a money-driven operation, and you have to demand your paycheck, and it should ideally be outrageous. That way your words carry weight.

When did you realize should be an author?  Is it something you always aspired to be?

I’ve always enjoyed stories. I don’t know about “should be”. “Could be,” for sure. And I’m an author now and I plan to remain one, but you can never tell. You might hate my next few books and suddenly I need a new job. I’d still be a storyteller – just for my kids, maybe – but I’d also be a whatever. A brand consultant. A maître d’. Whatever. I came to novels late, when I just couldn’t cope with movies anymore… Too grim for me as a place to live.

  Different editions of books (UK, US, various other countries, hardcover, paperback) end up having different covers. Do you have a favorite cover for each of your books?
I fall in love with all my cover designs. I’m completely fickle. At the moment I’m besotted with some of the South East Asian editions. They’re completely different from anything I’ve seen before, but they still express the book. It’s weird and wonderful to see your work through someone else’s eyes. But that’s this week – last week it was the UK edition of Tigerman, which is stripy and tactile, incredibly gorgeous. I haven’t held a US copy, so I haven’t properly had the opportunity to lose my heart to it, but I know I will. I’ve already seen the digital result of Chip Kidd and Ryan Heshka’s work, and the physical version will be stunning. I love the convenience and availability that comes with digital editions, but for love, I think you need a real book.

~ by generationgbooks on July 29, 2014.

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