Conversation with Jason Michel.

Here’s part of the chinwag that I had with Jason ‘The Beaten Dog’ Michel over at the Outsider Writers Collective in July this year. It’s a bit like a sweary MY DINNER WITH ANDRE.

Conversations From God Knows Where.

‘Paul Brazill writes the best short pulp fiction on the net today. Bar none.
If you don’t believe me, I’ll take you outside for a knuckleduster sandwich with a baseball insert for dessert. His stories are lean, mean and are dripping with miles more inventiveness and streaky dark humour than any of the Bukowski wanabees out there today. His work has been featured in Powder Flash Burn and Beat To A Pulp amongst others. Keep your head down and enjoy the ride.

JM – Hey Paul.
Can you remember the first time you wanted to write stories?
What was the catalyst?

PB – Ey up.
When I was a kid in Hartlepool it was really hard to get the American comics that I loved so I made up my own stories when I ran out of things to read.

JM – Which comics were they? The old classic horror, crime or superhero? Why did they float thy boat?

PB – It was the superhero stuff. Mainly Batman and the Ditko Spiderman.
Escape, was what they gave.

JM – So, how was growing up in Hartlepool as a kid?

I notice it features in your stories a fair bit. Writing about what you know, an’ all that?

PB – Let’s just say it WAS grim oop North and the world of the imagination was much more appealing than the real world.

JM – I have to say that growing up in the hills surrounded by the Welsh version of Deliverance that I understand completely … 2000AD(a limey dystopian sci-fi comic for all you philistines) saved my soul (or damned it).

What is it about the so-called “pulp” fiction and noir novels that you dig?
Is it just those damned sultry femme fatales, or what?

PB – It’s the vivid and sometimes lurid images and language. Perfect for people who grew up living more in their imagination than the day to day.

JM – “… the vivid and sometimes lurid images and language”, I love that.
I was always drawn to those so-called “low brow” books, comics and movies too. Anything that seemed to swamp the senses, like a good Hammer Horror yarn, a shadowy Boris Karloff feature or a smidgeon of Robert E Howard.
Some of your stories remind me of the old Roald Dahl’s Tales Of The Unexpected collection which, believe me, is a compliment.
Was his writing ever an influence and do you remember the freaky opening to TV version?

PB – I loved the tv series -along with the twighlight zone, outer limits, thriller -but have never read any.. I like Tarka Dahl-because it’s ‘otter’

JM – Ouch!

That piece of Indian wildlife was toe stubber …
You should read Roald Dahl’s collections, they’re classic. Lots of macabre twists to turn you on.

So, tell me. Crime…Which one is the most fun to write about? Have any of your stories comes from real life experiences? Or stories heard from friends?

PB – Oh, pub stories, mostly. We’re all in the gutter but some of us are seeing stars through the bottom of a pint glass. Or something.
I do fancy checking out Dahl though.

As a kid, I loved the Pan Books of Horror Stories. Know them? And on TV -Hammer House Of Horrors!

JM – Never read the Pan books but do remember HHH.

PB –

I like seeing people make a bollox of things.’Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.’, you know the Chaplin quote?

Patricia Highsmith is someone I used to adore.’The Blunderer’ is a great story. It’s about a peeping-tom who gets accused of murder and proceeds to dig himself deeper and deeper into the shit. Ray Banks’ Cal Innes does this same but with more laughs and loads more swearing.

JM – “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.” – Mel Brooks.
Now that’s a piece of truth for you.

There’s a real streak of gallows humour in your writing. How essential is it to laugh at the darker aspects of life?
Is there anything that is not fair game?

PB – Fantastic quote from a REAL comedy genius!

I think everything is fair game -if you can get away with it. Some people can and some can’t but it’s all subjective. I’m an entertainer -maybe more Tony Hancock then Des O’Conner but I write stuff to read while you’re in the pub having a sneaky pint not to put you off your pork scratchings.

JM – Enough with the pork scratchings. I’m trying to quit smoking here!

How’s the beer in Poland? How long have been there?

PB – Thank god I’ve never smoked or I’d be a living ashtray by now.
Beer is strong. OKOCIM MOCNE is my fave.
I came to Poland in 2001, before they joined the EU. I did a TEFL course in Madrid in the summer and came over here two weeks after I was offered a job.

How many TEFL Tours Of Duty have you done and where have you been?

JM – I left Blighty in 1997. Before then I’d been on the dole and worked in various factory jobs. Was even a streetcleaner for a while! Then an opportunity arose for a move to Japan.
I took it.
After 2 years there, I visited a mate in Thailand. I didn’t leave for 5 years.
Then I ended up in Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast for a year, by mistake. The biggest rotten penetrated sphincter on the planet. They still have a statue to Franco. No shit. It is the last stop. One side of a fence is “Europe”, the other side Africa.
After suffering that place for a year, I decided to go to London and spent a good couple of years there.
And now I am in France. I’ve been here for three years or so.
At least the cheese, wine and cakes are good.

Are you planning to collect all those gems you write into a collection?

PB – TEFL. It’s the life of the eternally discombobulated, eh?

I had my first job at 16 but I’ve been on the dole loads too. I once worked in a toy shop but mostly as a Welfare Rights Adviser -in East London. If I get enough stories together, I’d like to do a collection. We’ll see. (I only started last November. Before that I’d written a screenplay in1995/ 6 which I sent to scala films and they lost -and I didn’t have another copy, of course (but that’s good because it was rubbish! )And some torch song lyrics for my old bandmate Peter Ord.) Every time I write something- finish something, really – it’s a suprise to me!’

Click on the post header for the full interview.

The pic is by Jason Michel who blogs here:

Something For The Weekend: not from here, are you?

Click on the post header and wander around Michael J. Solender‘s blog for some fine writing from him and other writers. MJS is a keen supporter of other scribblers -this week his guest writer was A Twist Of Noir’s Christopher Grant who gave us ‘Happy Birthday, Honey’.Michael’s Friday Flash is a real gem ‘The sum of his deeds’. You’ll also find links to his stories and poems at places like Shoots&Vines, Full of crow, A Twist Of Noir, Thrillers Killers n chillers, 6 Sentences and, well, everywhere.

Oh, and let’s not forget his journalism!
Plenty of cracking stuff there!