28 August 2010

Saturday Special Feature: Meet Marc Nash

You've read about him on Twitter. He even guises as a woman. This attracted my curiosity long ago, when I thought that Karen Dash was his wife! I browsed his site and found out that he does what I do, and that is character tweeting. He even has a book out: 
A,B & E

Meet Marc Nash. The man is a veritable vortex of mystery and talent, with stories that send you scurrying for the dictionary and yet drive you back for more.

I DMed him back a week or two ago and requested to do a proper interview to expose the process, a viewing of the pistons and gears in place, a vivisection of the man behind the woman, @ExisleMoll on Twitter:

How long have you been writing? Has it been easy? Is your family supportive?

To answer the last one first, my family are neither supportive nor unsupportive. They just let me get on with it and shake their heads bemusedly saying 'well thank goodness none of that stuff enters our home life'. I haven't told my wife or boys that I've dressed up as a nurse or a bachelorette, um mainly because it hasn't cropped up in conversation. My boys have seen my YouTube video readings done in balaclavas and other masks. They think it's cool to have a Dad that does things a bit different to most other fathers at school, but there again they wish I designed video games so they could be the first at school to have them... 
I've been writing seriously since college starting with plays, some 25 years now. I switched to novels when my twin boys came along and I couldn't hang out at theatres every night. Has it been easy? The words come easily, I'm always trying to catch up with my own material, writing around work and family, so that writer's block is never an issue for me. But it's been hard writing for 25 years virtually in a vacuum. By writing such idiosyncratic stuff, it's very hard to get the industry professionals interested, but by coming online and meeting a community of people I've been bolstered by the response that maybe I haven't been wasting my life up until now, that I could be on to something, however niche in scale it may be.

Where did you grow up? What was that like for you? Has it has any impact on your writing?

London. I have a love-hate relationship with my own nation, the things I cherish about our country and the things that make me foam at the mouth. Most of my writing reflects that in some ways, searching out notions of identity both for myself and my fellow countrymen, where I fit in with the norm and where I absolutely don't. Growing up I was an only child, so I had the twin impetuses of having to make my own entertainment which helped develop my imagination, but also that my parents included me when they had their friends over, so that I was always observing adult behaviour. Since one of my parents had an addiction, though not one where you take harmful things into your body, I got to see some pretty screwed up and broken examples of adulthood close up. 
I'm still trying to decide whether man is fundamentally an inherently flawed creature beyond much hope of redemption and reclamation, or whether we are all salvageable, only life circumstances often get in the way. It's essentially a very political question, but one again I probe in my writing.

Your writing stands out among the rest because of the mind-boggling diversity of your words. I find myself using the dictionary on more than a few pieces. Can you give me a little bit of your education/work background to share what leads you to this practice?

Although I had a high standard of education up to University level, I never read anything but comics until I was 14 years old and studied History rather than English Literature. To this day I've never read any Dickens, Hardy or any of the so called classics of the English literary canon. I do read a lot now though, but it's all contemporary. For my University degree I switched from History to politics and psychology which gave me all sorts of material which I still draw on. But the main thing about College was that I got to write in the first place, cos I was disillusioned with academia, but there were all these theatre stages and wannabe actors who would put on my plays. For work I've been really lucky, falling into both of the only two jobs that I've ever done since leaving College. 
I worked for 20 years in a cutting edge record store that allowed me to experience the counter-culture and recently moving into the world of journalism and freedom of expression all around the world. I have to say though, I'd drop either like a shot if writing ever got full-time, which I don't think is likely. 
The language thing? I just find words imprecise and slippery. More often than not they fail to convey the meaning they're supposed to do. My playwriting was a good education in what people really mean but fail to articulate in words.

What is your preferred genre to write in?

Oh dear, 'genre' is a word I refuse to acknowledge or attribute any validity to. I understand the need to know which shelves books are found in the store, but in an internet age, labelling things by genre just seems to diminish the work the way I see it. It's the same with blurbs, if I could distill the novel down to a strapline, then I wouldn't have bothered writing 65,000 words in the first place! I might make a distinction between fiction that is escapist and fiction that engages with reality, but even then there's plenty of readers who like to read both. But of the two, I veer towards the latter, though that doesn't mean I won't write 'fabulist' tales where a toy panda, a patch of wasteland, or a waterbed and quilt are the narrators...

Who is your intended audience (for your book and your Fridayflash)?

Anyone who wants something a bit different in what they read. People who like to be challenged, by ideas, by narrative form and by language and voice. The beauty of the internet is that any such readers can come back to a writer and start a conversation and a discussion about what they've just read with you, the writer. My writing seeks to engage with and interrogate the world we live in, to make connections and spin images that are maybe out of the everyday and ordinary. If that's your thing, I may just be a writer for you!

You have a book. A real book out there in the wild. What's it about?

The best vantage to look back on your own country is from exile. Karen Dash has fled her gangster husband in fear of her life and holed up in a Club 18-30 holiday resort in island Greece. Yet every day she is tormented by swathes of her country folk bringing home directly back to her as the British do when they go on holiday. They erect a local British 'Green Zone' of binge drinking, sex and violence and the local culture be damned. Meanwhile back in Britain, a nurse also has to sow up the victims of the same pleasure pursuits. How are the two women who have never met linked?

Thanks Marc for the opportunity (and the Dustin Hoffman-esque authorly picture!) to get to know you. All interested can purchase Marc's book here:

A, B & E - US Amazon
A, B & E - UK Amazon

Sample it first at Freado

26 August 2010

Jailed #Fridayflash

Photo credit: cooee from morguefile.com

“I write foresight,
One day you’ll find me in the distance
More sublime
But still never died before.”
Jail - NOLA (Down)

Ice crusted the glass; white piled in small drifts around the wipers. The moon smiled at me from her gleam on the hood, but my headlights were dismal candles, mocked by the enshrouding mystery of early morning fog.

I felt something. Something there. A chill that snaked down my spine, blossoming in spider-pricked gooseflesh on my entirety. My fingers cowered in their leather gloves, nearly releasing the steering wheel. A stunning realization that I was not alone in the car. I was afraid to look.

Afraid I’d be right.

The fog divided by the hood wisped along the window. Ghosts of sky, weighed down with wet and white to blanket the earth of mortals. I summoned the courage to take a quick glance at the passenger seat.

Nothing, aside from silvered shadows diffused by the windshield. I took a shuddering breath. Switched on the heat. The car felt like a tomb.

Glanced in the rearview mirror. Nothing but darkness and my wild, staring eyes. Adrenalin surged through me, thrilling my muscles. I increased my speed to shorten the duration to the next town. I’d get out. Shake it off. Maybe get a motel room. I wasn’t as young as I used to be; I could drive for twenty-four hours back when I was twenty.

But not here. I wouldn’t—couldn’t—get out here. This was in-between land, this dazed cushion of damp down and beguiling muted colors.

I turned up the radio. Rich, mahogany tones of bass guitar and silken deep voices comforted me. The ice crept in from the outside. My breath was frozen and fell to my lap like snow. I dropped my gaze to my thighs. A flash of light. Thunder in my ears, trapped. Rushing.

It was dark then. Only the green dials gave approximation of where the dash could be. I felt disengaged. Wet. Before the window closed on my last breath, I finally saw him. He was there to meet me, only he couldn’t follow.

Then it was dark no more.

25 August 2010


I feel sometimes
Like writing my own future
Igniting the candle
To rocket me to my next
Wild tale
An insinuation of delegation
A shrugging of responsibilities
To frolic and splash in the river
Ride white horse through
Valleys of wonder
Splendor all over
Invent new ways
To say I love you
To hold a body close
So hearts tremble together
A tenderness unfound anywhere
Else in this universe
Still, I consent to overture
And descent to my own melody
Because after all it’s tragedy
And apathy that seem to trend best.
Once painted, the corner stays wet
And I sit in it to watch the room
Crumble to dust.

I don’t want to write anymore.

21 August 2010

Special Feature - Help This Austin Teacher Get Books!

Help this Austin teacher gather books for her students. Amazon features her picks on a School Book list. Take the time to pick out a book or two for the good of a high school student. Pick a book, any book. Select Jessica Beck at check-out for shipping address.

School book wish list

14 August 2010

Special Feature "The Dream is Dead"

It was the perfect drug for the times. Mesh traded for lace, traded for nylon stockings, and the best part?

Youth faded. It dulled and conformed, consist-icized to constricted positioning, arguments of logic and the final acceptance of belief, time, and all that consisted of pieces. Pieces of you; pieces of her. Places to please and treasure the time when her boot heels dusted that dance floor, black lace trailing a dream that never blossomed; only her tattoos were hidden after five years under corporate sleeves and that clove cigarette so mystified and died back when the smoking ban killed all forms of self-pacification.

It’s an arrow to the psyche, this welling of feelings and hurt residing from something that sliced through the ego twenty years ago. Zits traded for wrinkles, tongue ring traded for rings around the eyes, and a sigh into the bottom of the last glass of amber solidification.

Perfect drug equals that which made her believe the minivan far exceeded her LeBaron convertible; replaces her secret lover on the beaches of memory. Purple hair dye washed down the drain to maintain that concrete anonymity of Life as it Should Be.
Piss in a barrel, stack cards on top and pick her future. Sensible heels or spiked demeanor. Bills aren’t paid with attitude, honey. Individuality is fucking overrated.

The dream is dead.

Photo credit: demondimum from morguefile.com

12 August 2010

"Stiff" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: xandert from morguefile.com

She left me here. Ragged and weeping on the floor like a leaking faucet. Bats fly in a blurred tornado of red ears and beaded black eyes. Fingers twitch and face itches from the tiny haired feet of a spider.
She lied to get me here. Face stitched to the cut-pile carpet with undulating waves of russet sunset and one very thin thread of azure. She was so sure. Took awhile to lie down and wait for the numb and shock of thunder to transverse my system.

I should’ve listened.

Should’ve bared my soul long ago and taken the hand that would’ve been here. Now that my time is near. I don’t know where I’m headed but it sure isn’t heaven.

I hear her below and I still can’t take in breath long enough to break this frozen death to knock three times and let her know I still want her.

"Petra" #Fridayflash

 Photo credit: alvimann from morguefile.com

I first saw her when I went to the drive-in. The place had girls on roller skates and satin red shorts. Her hair was long, black, and straight. She had blue barrettes pinned above her ears, of which were festooned with an array of hoops and dangling crosses.

Her legs were perfect, except for a bruise on one knee. I accepted the ice-cream float she brought me, told her to keep the change and watched her backside as she glided away. On the radio "Just Like Heaven" filtered through the haze of cigarette smoke and the tinny music the drive-in played over the dented and rusted speakers above.

The next day I went back and ordered another float. She came out again, her icy blue eyes blinking in surprise when she obviously recognized me. She had a cut on her right cheekbone. A little thing, but I took it in observation and sipped on my drink thoughtfully when she glided away on those old-fashioned roller skates to serve another customer.

On the third day, I asked her for her name. She smiled. Her name tag said "Mindy" but I knew the deal with these places. I drew on my cigarette and gave her the best set of puppy dog eyes I could. My eyes drifted to her left upper arm. Three bruises, each the shadow of a large finger marred her perfection. She was almost milky white. The bruises attempted to sneak up under the hem of her sleeve. Her lip was pierced on the side. She toyed with the silver ring before answering.

"Petra," she said finally, like the answer to some great enigma and was gone, her long black ponytail streaming out behind her. Her wind was bubble gum and patchouli. I started the car, and parked in back. My float melted as I watched for hours. Customers came and went, and every so often I could see Petra. She was a diamond in a sea of river stones. I sipped on the root beer and vanilla ice cream mess and thought of her scent.

The lights went out promptly at 11. The girls were picked up by husbands or boyfriends, or departed in a tiny, affordable battered cars. Petra stood alone at the end of the curb, before sitting down to open her little purse for a smoke. Something made her look in my direction; a blue Chevelle out by the Dumpster, blue smoke wavering in the wind. She rose to her feet and walked towards me.
 Photo credit: msquanna from morguefile.com

"I should call the cops," she said, standing just out of reach at my window, not looking at me.

"You should leave him," I said before flicking one of more than a dozen butts into the night breeze. We both watched the amber arc die in a hiss on the damp pavement.

"You don't know what you're talking about."

"You told me your name," I said, moving to take off my seatbelt.

"Don't--" she said, looking around us. "He'll be here soon."

"Good. Let him come." I got out of the car and towered over her diminutive figure. "Petra." I liked saying her name. I liked that the word meant her, in her soft white skin and icy blue eyes. I loved that she existed and stood her with me even though I scared her.

Rebel country music swelled in the distance, along with the unmistakable sound of a Flowmaster exhaust set. She blinked hard, one tear escaping inky lashes.

I went to the trunk, opened it, and loaded my rifle as a brown 4x4 Silverado pulled into the lot.

05 August 2010

"Second-Sight" #Fridayflash

Photo credit: rosevita from morguefile.com

He’s hummin’ a little tune as his ears follow that clickety-clack of his walking stick . A white extension of his black self. Dark-leathery skin contrasts with the brilliant white stick, with them red stripes. His nostrils flare. Bertha has fresh pie waiting at the diner already. Coffee. The papery scent lettin’ him know the Sunday edition is waiting in his customary spot.

“Well howdy Nate, got your pie right here,” Bertha says, loud, because people think that blind people is deaf too, he don’t know. He nods and smiles at the sound because he don’t know if Bertha is a pretty missus or a miss or if she’s—

Blackberries. His nose fills up with berries and his hands fall to the table right where his fork and napkin sit because that’s where Bertha’s put them as long as he can remember. She always givin’ him the coffee for free. He tries to tell her sometimes it ain’t right but she laughs and takes his money and gives back the wrong change anyway.

Nate. He was born Nathaniel, but he’s been shortened to Nate, and now it just don’t matter anymore as long as they don’t call him late for his pie—supper—he’ll be just fine. The door jingles. Bertha changes it out every so often. Christmastime she has a set of sleigh bells and he smiles because sleigh bells just sound so pretty. So pretty.

Erma’s gone. Been gone for fifteen years. He still has the old house they shared, still talks to her sometimes just to have sound. He don’t like radio anymore really. It isn’t music. It just isn’t. He hangs up his hat where the old mirror used to be ‘til the night Darcy was born; Erma pulled it down during one of her contractions because it hurt so bad.

The pie settles a little off. He opens the refrigerator with the same creak it’s had for a decade or more since Darcy collapsed in front of it when her heart failed. She’s got a nice job somewhere in Chicago. Pacemaker saved her life.

Maalox is right there on the shelf and he takes a cold chalky swig. Closes the door. Turns to go up the stairs. Halfway up he pauses with a grunt. Leathery black hands let go. Everything is static. Static and hissin’, but it’s the rush of water and he opens his eyes.

Erma smiles down at him and he touches her glowing cheek. She’s just beautiful to look at.