HALTON PICKLES MEETS… ED SPENCER – PART ONE

On Thursday (23rd June) we, Sigmund Fraud Books, publish our first title, The People’s Republic of Absurdia.

Ed Spencer’s debut novel is a timely political satire/black comedy thriller in which Britain has become a radically repressive nanny state at the mercy of an elaborate practical joke. This is a funny and frightening take on the theme of our times – the ever-shifting line between civil liberty and state security, and inspired by the best bits of the last decade (foreign misadventure, anti-terror laws, creeping surveillance, rampant consumerism, increasing social disparity) makes serious points about our future without taking itself too seriously.

We asked one of our favourite writers Halton Pickles (author of My Mother Was A Vegetarian In A Tribe Of Cannibals) to have a chat with him…

HP: First of all, it was all a bit of whirlwind coming to SFB wasn’t it?

ES: That’s right. I was set to sign with another publisher – who will remain nameless – but they were dragging their heels, putting back the date and frankly being rather uncommunicative. So I sacked them.

HP: So you were about to put it out yourself when…

ES: I had a chance encounter in a pub in north London with dear old, mad old Siggy. I have no idea whether Sigmund Fraud is his real name or not but it suits him. I went to the bar to order a drink and he turned to me and said ‘You there. You look like a writer.’ I confirmed I was and he shouted ‘Bollocks!’ We got chatting, he was pretty pissed, told me I was no writer, then demanded to read my book. He got back to me within two days saying ‘I’m gonna publish this. And I’ll probably want your next book too.’

HP: And the fit is excellent. SFB say – We like stories that laugh at the darker aspects of the human experience, and work that says something not only about people, but the systems and ideas that govern our lives. An obvious home, yes?

ES: Yes, and they say the novel is the highest form of writing. I certainly agree with that.

HP: That’s an interesting point. In a previous chat you said that you wanted to bring back the old philosophical novel tradition.

ES: Yeah, in a way. I mean let me say – all novels should have good a story and be good to read. If they don’t have that, they’ve failed. But so much lit these days is just stuff I’m not interested in. A college professor reminisces about his childhood in Colonial Kenya, that type of thing. Christ – yawn! Where are the ideas? Herman Hesse would probably have Steppenwolf turned down in today’s climate. The first sixty or so pages are pure existential, philosophical musings. Yet it is undoubtedly one of the great novel-of-ideas. Voltaire, even Vonnegut. These writers don’t seem to exist, or there isn’t the appetite, or publishers are driven by money and won’t take artistic chances. God help us if we go the full Hollywood.

******the interview continues tomorrow…*******

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