Monday 22 September 2008

An Interview - Neville Thompson

Neville Thompson is the best selling author of Five Novels and has edited three books of short sotries. His work has been translated into French, German and Greek. The French are making a film of his first novel and he has also written and directed plays.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

Fuck all. And its not writers block I am just organising a festival in Castlecomer Kilkenny. I went down to do a writers workshop and the group ended up writing a play and a book of short stories. To celebrate their success we are having a festival and that is taking up all my time. But its good fun I am enjoying it.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Neville Thompson’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

When I write it takes up nearly a whole day. Normal writing day I get up and doss till around nine thirty, then work through on writing til five, only breaking for endless tea. At five I eat, check emails and watch tv for a while to chill, usually until ten and then its back to the writing again until two in the morning. I have terrible sleeps when writing cause I am thinking it all out, so I cant wait to get back and get it finished. It usually takes a twelve week stint once a year so I guess I am lucky.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

The gym is big for me, I get very low if I don’t exercise so I like to stay fit. If I am in the money I like to holiday for a few weeks but I also do a lot of workshops with Poetry Ireland and Fetac so most of the school year I am working. Other than that you will find me sitting drinking tea on the boardwalk in Dublin.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

Believe in your work and fuck the begrudgers. Don’t get caught up with trying to be smart, just write it straight and to be honest don’t get caught up with the idea of getting published it seems to be getting harder every year and to get a good story on paper you can’t get too caught up with it. I would say don’t get genre driven. Don’t pigeon hole your work. To be honest I don’t think my work is crime I think it’s life, its’s just nowadays there are a lot of crimes happening.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

I really haven’t read anyone in ages, I love Irvine Welsh but his books have all disappointed since Filth, I kep buying hoping he will do something amazing but I think his edge is gone. I reread George Dawes Green’s Caveman and just think it’s amazing.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

How to make a film on a micro budget. I am trying to make movies and noone is interested in bring any of my work to screen here, it seems Fair City is as cutting edge as RTE want to go. So I am trying to make a film on a budget of zero and show what I can do so I will get a shot at something decent. The book is great. I am also reading a play called “Clerical Errors” that I am directing in the Castlecomer festival.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Just keep on working. Or win the Lotto but I will probably just keep on doing what I do. I am talking about starting a publishing house for small runs on new writers to be a stepping stone for the next big thing. I hate the devastation to Irish Writing that the Arts Council and the Chic Lit have done, they have ruined years of great work and stopped true talent emerging, I would like to try and stem that tide.

Re my own writing I have all the groundwork done for two books one I think is going to be very controversial as it is about a rape, the other is a lighter comedy type.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

Yes. I would have taken the money originally offered for Jackie Loves Johnser the film and stopped being self righteous about doing the book justice. I would not have allowed an editor run me out of Poolbeg because I do believe I could have made a bigger break having stayed with them. But life is about life choices its only a mistake if you don’t learn from it and I have learned.

Q9. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Naw, I rant when given my space I think Pennys having their Christmas shop up so early is a disgrace and I think the fact that Pat Ingoldsby is selling his books on the bleeding street is a disgrace, when he dies they will all say what a great man he was and start spouting about him but he is alive they ignore him. I think someone has to stop the Arts Council funding shite, get the Abbey to realise that there are Irish writers who are still living and are not called Brendan or Roddy and make RTE realise that they can’t do comedy!

I would also like to know why I never get asked to do the Dublin Writers Festival or why this year is my 14th unsuccessful bid to get a grant from the Arts Council.

Like I say, I rant.

Thank you, Neville Thompson!


Michael Stone said...

Nevilla Thompson

Heh, there's nothing more entertaining than a good rant.

Michael Stone said...

Sorry, that should have been Neville with an e. Isn't there a way to modify comments after they've been left?

Gerard Brennan said...

Mike - Yup, the guy takes no prisoners.

And nope, blogger seems to be unforgiving in the aul typo department.


Anonymous said...

I prefer Nevilla when I do chic lit thats going to be my name.
Thanks for the chance to rant for more ranting come to the Castlecomer Writers Festival this weekend, 26-28th September loads of great writers really good play and me... ranting

Gerard Brennan said...

Neville! Thanks for stopping by. Please call again with whatever rant you feel the need to air.

I'd love to attend Castlecomer, especially after reading the list of writers in attendance, but alas, it represents a seven hour round trip in a Hyundai Getz. I couldn't face it this weekend. Maybe next time.

Best of luck with it, though. There's a spot here for a report on it if you want to fire one my way.