So, the first person to face my Smash Lits questions is Dan Powell.
His debut collection of short fiction – “Looking Out Of Broken Windows” – has just been published by Salt. I got to read it before it was published. (Yeah, I’m showing off.) Dan was entering it into the Scott Prize and I told him “It’s a winner for sure” and “I fully expect you to win this competition”. I have NEVER said that to anyone else. I mean, what a thing to say! But, that’s how certain I was. That’s how good his stories are. All of them! He’s consistently excellent. Fanfare please, Salt loved it so much they published it and I think you should probably buy it. Or you can enter a competition to win a copy by commenting here or on any of the other LOoBW blog tour posts appearing across the internet this March, or you can “like” the Looking Out of Broken Windows Facebook page. All the names will be put in a hat for the draw which takes place on April 6th. Anyway, enough blurby stuff, on with the questions.
1) How do you organise your bookshelves?
I keep all my short fiction collections together on a series of shelves, but beyond that it is all chaos. I buy too many books (just ask my wife) and now there are stacks on top of stacks. I may have to start double layering each shelf but I am currently resisting that. It feels wrong.
2) What is your favourite biscuit?
Custard Cream. A design classic. The Helvetica of biscuits. They’re everywhere.
3) You are wallpaper. What is your pattern?
All of my electronic devices have the same digital wallpaper. Clouds against a blue sky. Very calming. So that. Walls and ceiling, please.
4) What was your favourite book as a child?
Treasure Island. It’s still in my top ten. Perfect boys’ own adventure. Funny and thrilling and at times very, very dark.
5) Your writing is music, what style is it?
Instrumental mood music. Somewhere between Lowercase Noises and Explosions in the Sky.
6) Are you in it for the money, fame and glory? Or?
I’m in it for the words. Just the words.
7) You have to swap places with one other writer for a week. Who and why?
I’d swap places with Jonathan Franzen and use his computer to set him up an official verified Twitter account. I’d tweet a few for him, then sit back to watch the literary back room of the internet explode.
8) What makes the wind blow?
Those little sighs that toddler’s give when they are sleeping. That’s the starting point. It’s a butterfly flapping its wings thing.
9) Do you have a favourite pen?
Yes. My fancy-dan Fisher Space Explorer Pen. It writes upside down and in space. Just in case I’m ever upside down or in space or upside down in space. Can you be upside down in space?
(I am so jealous. I really want one of those. I asked for one for Christmas but nobody knew what I meant apparently.)
10) Do you believe human beings can spontaneously combust?
Probably not. But some probably should.
11) Have you ever written an angry letter/email to a magazine or newspaper?
No, but my first ever published writing was a letter in the UK Transformers comic. I seem to remember winning twenty pounds as the writer of that week’s star letter. That’s better than you get for most short stories these days.
12) Who is your favourite Neighbours character?
Not seen this since the early nineties. My sister watched this and Home and Away avidly. I caught glimpses up until I left for Uni. I’ll say Mike as he grew up to be Guy Pearce which was kind of unexpected.
13) Would you rather be a bee or a wasp?
Bee. No one likes a wasp.
14) If your life story was made into a book, what would the title be?
Looking Out of Broken Glasses or No More Books.
15) What did you do last Saturday night?
Read some Karl Ove Knausgaard and watched Wes Anderson’s first movie, Bottle Rocket, with my wife. Not at the same time.
16) Do you have a writer crush?
I have a bit of a thing for Amy Hempel. She’s broken my heart many times and keeps doing so. I keep coming back for more.
17) Bacon VS Tofu – who wins and why?
Bacon. Streaks ahead of Tofu.
18) Have you ever seen a ghost?
No. I am planning on being one though.
19) Are you Looking Out of Broken Windows? What can you see from your window?
I’m on a train as write this so I’m looking out of a wide, dirty window. I can see the suburbs of Nottingham. Uniform houses all in rows. Boxes with triangles on top. Punctuated every now and again by an industrial estate.
20) Can you make up a poem about broken windows?
The window broke
All by itself
It popped and snapped
It had no help
I tried to put it back in place
Tried but could only fail.
Is that a poem?
Oh yes, I think so. Very profound.
Thanks for answering my questions, and I wish you many sales and much success. I’d also like to say thank you for all the work you put into supporting other writers.