Interview with Richard Godwin
Cecilia | On 12, Mar 2015
Richard Godwin is the author of critically acclaimed novels Apostle Rising, Mr. Glamour, One Lost Summer,Confessions Of A Hit Man, Noir City.
He is also a published poet and a produced playwright. His stories have been published in over 34 anthologies, among them his anthology of stories, Piquant: Tales Of The Mustard Man.
Richard Godwin was born in London and obtained a BA and MA in English and American Literature from King’s College London, where he also lectured.
His novels are knowed also in Italy: ‘L’Apostolo’ is ‘Apostle Rising’ published in Italy by Lite-Editions, June 2014; ‘Confessioni di un sicario’ is Confessions Of A Hit Man published by Meme Publishers, January 2015 and Noir City, will be published next year in English and Italian by Atlantis.
More particulars of this author on his blog: www.richardgodwin.net
1. Welcome on my blog, Richard. The first thing I want to ask you is: “How would you introduce yourself to the Italian readers to let them know you in the best possible way?
R.: I am the author of seven novels and an anthology of stories. I write Noir, crime fiction, some horror and literary. My novels tend to be psychological, not always. One Lost Summer is my most Noir novel. For Italian readers who do not know English they can sample my work in their own language. My latest, Confessions Of A Hit Man is out in Italian as Confessioni di un sicario, and my novel Apostle Rising has been translated into Italian as L’Apostolo. My erotic novel Noir City, based on the series of stories about gigolo Paris Tongue, is available as The Secret Hour, and L’ora Secreta, and also The Edge Of Desire, Il Confini Del Desiderio.
2. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
R.: Aged 17. I was studying English A level and realised a poem I was reading articulated something I’d sensed, I wanted to be able to do that.
3. What was your beginning like? Was it difficult for you to have your novels published?
R.: I wrote for a long time and never sent my work anywhere then I began to send out stories and get them published in magazines. My first novel, Apostle Rising, received numerous rejections before it got two acceptances.
4. Now, you’ve published with Blackjackal Editions the novel “Paranoia And The Destiny Programme”. Tell us how did the idea.
R.: I was interested in state surveillance and the link between serial killers and dictators.
5. This was my first attempt on a novel from you, I’ve never read anything before. The rhythm and the overall felling are quite disturbing. The climax is quite well distributed in between the pages until the end, but what I miss is the real idea beyond the plot. Is this perhaps a sort of way to define how our future could be?
R.: Paranoia And The Destiny Progamme is about a dystopian totalitarian regime trying to create a dictator by using DNA derived from serial killers. Since we live in an age of surveillance the analogy to present times is there within the narrative, we are presented with mass of information, it is information overload, and it is impossible to know how sure we can be of the information being disseminated.
6. The level of paranoia comes out very clearly from your way on using terms and sentences. Also the altered state of mind is well defined passing from an apparent calm to a killing rage when Dale enters Automata Zone. Also the fact that every time Dale returns in himself or is back home the picture is always the same (his wife cooking soup) his depicting a sort paranoia trip Dale is suffering.
R.: I am not sure if this is a question. Paranoia means beside the mind, Dale is beside his mind because he has been placed there. He claims he is part of an experiment aimed at creating a new gender. By the end of the narrative the reader is left in no doubt as to whether his paranoia is a symptom of his delusion or not.
7. How much of this is coming from previous suggestions like Clockwork Orange, Orwell’s 1984, Vonnegut, Philp K. Dick, Huxley? Who where the writers or filmakers that have impressed you more?
R.: The idea is mine. Kafka said we inherit literary history. I admire the authors you mention. In terms of filmmakers Blade Runner is good, No Country For Old Men is better.
8. Reading there are a lot of sex scenes and several times bodyparts and fluids come along. Don’t you think that the connection between sex and hallucination has been used too much? What I mean is that some images you draw (i.e “Naked women parade themselves across our carpet, their bodies ready for the orgy of authoritarianism”, just to name a few) can help in identify a state of alteration, but they seem more a way to indulge in titillating the vouyeristic side instead of being part of the narration itself. Can you give us an hint to understand?
R.: Think of the films the Nazis made. This is a direct reference.
I think it would be hard to imagine any reader being excited by the descriptions I have used, and they stem from a satirical take on the uses of sex by politics. Anyone familiar with the genre will see that I am satirising the uses of sex by politics. Dale is merely seeing what is shown to him. The passage you mention is not erotic. There is no seduction here. I am portraying the modern age and its voyeurism and how it has inherited totalitarian traits. We may be seeing the birth of a voyeuristic authoritarianism. That is why it is embedded within the narrative structure.
9. The fact that Dale is destined to being changed into a woman in order to give birth to a dictator… The black butterflies flying out the mouth, the reference to Rorschach ink spatters where he sees only “pile of bones”… scalpels and plastic… Sorry, but sometimes I felt a little bit lost. Again, all these are evidences of an altered mind, but I really didn’t get the final message from your novella, apart from the fact that you are really able to describe a deranged mind. What were the intentions that moved you to write this script?
R.: To explore paranoia and totalitarianism. To dramatise the fact that one may well cerate the other. Dale has be re-gendered. His entire life has been subverted, the novella shows him giving birth to a dictator. It is a literary exploration of the uses of desire and its production. The state needs to use desire. The state in Paranoia And the Destiny Programme has gone beyond the historical uses of desire by politics and manifestos aimed at securing a social integration that may well be founded on a questionable morality sustained by a series of lies and obfuscations deeply rooted in a body politic whose disease is evident and whose uses of the media is an abhorrence.
10. Is the surname Helix something that connect the protagonist with its destiny since the beginning – helix like the DNA helix, so someone that can be manipulated in order to create something new, manipulate his DNA?
11. The name of my blog is “Contorni di noir” and so I’d be very grateful to you if you could give me your definition of the thriller genre.
R.: The thriller uses suspense and tension to show a situation of threat and danger and resolves it, it is ultimately a conservative genre. Noir is the genre of moral compromise and is not conservative by any means. It is the literature of those who cross lines because of economy or seductions or any number of reasons that are not necessarily criminal. One thrills, the others explores and often leaves its endings as realistic as the society it mirrors.