Short, Sharp Interview: Marco Ferrarese

Nazi-GorengPDB: What’s going on now?

I’m finishing work on my second book, a non-fiction memoire of my involvement in the Malaysian and Indonesian metal and punk scenes. Besides these projects, I’m working slowly on my second novel and writing freelance for a plethora of travel and culture magazines, besides keep pushing on to submit my PhD dissertation in anthromusicology – a new field of studies, ahaha – within 2015.

PDB: How did you research this book?

I learnt about the “Malay Power” during my forays as a guitarist in the local music scene. One night in Taiping I saw this guy with a strange skull and crossbones patch which remembered me too much of the black skulls you see on Neo-Nazis’ jackets, and there you go. The research went nowhere, however, because this fringe of the Malaysian punk scene is not really committed to expose itself, to the contrary of what was portrayed in Vice Magazine (http://www.vice.com/read/the-malaysian-nazis-fighting-for-a-pure-race). Anyhow, this helped me find the perfect characters to embody the idea of stupidity, as I believe the Brown Power is the most ludicrous thing I came across the past few years. It was the cherry on top of the social horror pie I had observed the previous 3 years as a resident of Malaysia. In fact, below a very superficially harmonic society, Malaysia to the contrary hides an authority-defined racist society, and is the theatre of some of the weirdest crimes ever. For example, here African con-men manage to convince local women to swallow capsules filled with drugs and fly internationally in the “name of love”. Being exposed to this crazy multi-ethnic society gave me two options: pen all of my dissent down into written form, or just explode and leave the country. I chose the former, to my Malaysian Chinese partner’s delight.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Well, being my debut novel, for certain Nazi Goreng. It became a local bestseller, and there are plans to translate it into the Malay language.

Ferrarese_portrait2 (2)PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

It’s hard to pick only one, but I’ll try to tell you what feels like the best as of today.

Film – “The House with the Laughing Windows”, 1976, by Pupi Avati

Book – “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner

Song – “Before the Kiss, A Redcap” by Blue Oyster Cult

Television Programme- sorry, I don’t watch TV.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Yes, in the sense that I know one can’t write about places he never visited. I travel a lot, to the extent that some people call me a travel writer – that’s a part of my profession, in truth -, and I strongly believe that a writer cannot evoke a sense of place without getting it under his skin. In terms of location as a base for my writing, well, I produced most of my published work in Penang, Malaysia, and I guess the place keeps me under some magic artistic spell, indeed.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

To tell you the truth, never. I don’t even have an Amazon author page. If that’s important, I’m afraid I ride on a different kind of retro train. I used to check Nazi Goreng’s rankings, but being under the millionth, who cares, really? I prefer to write good pitches and make some money publishing magazine articles, rather than rely on Amazon to establish if my intravenous dripped royalties make any sense.

PDB: What’s next?

My new Insular Southeast Asia metal punk memoire, whose title I still keep confidential. It’s a first time recollection of how it was/is to be involved in a local Malaysian band as a sole white foreigner, travelling throughout Malaysia and Borneo to find the rock, and touring Indonesia. It will have a number of great pictures, and a CD compilation including more than 20 great Malaysian metal, punk, hardcore and skinhead bands. It’s a unique project that hopefully will bring some attention and shape to a music scene of the developing world which is very much alive, kicking, and not well documented as of yet.

Then, it will be time to complete my second novel, an apocalyptic backpacker psychotronic feminist story, which I aim to finish before the end of the year, other commitments permitting.

Bio: Marco Ferrarese has travelled extensively and lived in Italy, the United States, China, Australia and Malaysia. He started vagabonding as a punk rock guitarist with metal punk band The Nerds. Since 2009 he’s been based in Southeast Asia as a writer, hardcore punk musician and researcher.

He has written about travel, culture and extreme music in Asia for a variety of international publications such as Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, CNN Travel, Roads & Kingdoms, Perceptive Travel, Time Out, Bangkok101, Vagabonding, and Penang Monthly. He blogs here.

Marco’s first pulp novel Nazi Goreng (Monsoon Books, 2013) explores the underbelly of Malaysian international drug trade and displaced youth and is a bestseller in Malaysia. Ferrarese’s short stories were featured in anthologies KL Noir 2 and Lost in Putrajaya, both published by FIXI in 2014.

Advertisements