Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ian Hutson, NGLND XPX, The Queen and Purple beans

"B-blog Hop? What's that some fancy 60's dance?"
I stare at Gerard in disbelief and smack him upside the head.
"No, you dummy. The ASMSG Electorate Interview Blog Hop is where various bloggers from my writer's group all sign up to interview and promote various authors. I get to interview Ian Hutson and I'm so excited!"
"Ian Hutson? Is that the fellow who wrote that cool book, NGLD XPX?"
Suddenly I feel a vibration that shakes the wharf.
"Jayus, Mary and Jo Henry! An earthquake! Hide!"
Gerard grabs me to pull me down but we see the source of the vibration coming around the corner. A fine looking gentleman dressed in safari attire flanked by an elephant wearing a Diesel-Electric Elephant company sweatshirt. I rush to embrace Ian and his elephant and guide them to the shed.

Welcome, Ian, have a seat, sorry that it is not more comfy, but a poor fishing season has forced me to reduce my furniture to two milk crates, but I have plenty of refreshments, care to have one?

Splendid - while youre at the bar mines a pint of Hendricks Gin please, ice and no slice.

Thank you for coming, Ian. Though I have known you for years, these yahoos drinking beer in the back are unfamiliar with you, share a little about yourself, pretty please.

Me, myself and I hmm? Bit of a mongrel really. Father was a radio-operator on deep-sea fishing trawlers (when radios on trawlers were new-fangled, cabin-sized things). He was recruited by Her Majestys little grey men during the Cold War era and morphed into an elctronic-warfare expert - all jamming of spy signals and setting up beacons for nuclear V-Bombers to home in on, that sort of nonsense. Mother gleefully adapted to whatever our familys extremes threw at her, and did whatever was necessary or possible from being a scary person in the Civil Defence Corps to factory work to home-making to Lord and Lady event-hopping elegant socialite. We moved to Hong Kong when I was born and as a consequence I grew up speaking mostly Cantonese with just a little pidgin English. Later we moved to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides where I had the joys of being the only sassenach sprog in our village. I had twelve schools and seventeen different home addresses as a child, I used to think we were on the run. We may have been.

When I was all growed up (sic) I got recruited myself by Her Majestys Very UnCivil Service and did some very icky jobs indeed. Ten years later Her Maj threw me out on my ear, so I left and made myself miserable by working for huge, soul-less, vile corporations with acronyms instead of names: ITSA; ICL; IBM; EDS; AVIVA and suchlike. They then threw me out too (can you see a pattern emerging here?) so I started my own companies doing various things, and promptly met the Big Global Meltdown. I found myself slightly tipsy and very officially bankrupted in court, homeless with car and valuables carted away by the official receivers (yes, that still happens). I had the last laugh though by getting up at dawn to syphon all but a teaspoonful of fuel out of my car before the men in warehouse coats took the keys and drove her away, loaded with some of my stuff. I gave them a cheery wave and an estimate of a quarter of a mile before they would need to push.

I now live in a hedgerow in Lincolnshire as a vegetarian of some forty years, the past five years a vegan, non-theist, peacenik hippie and my hobbies are budgeting on pennies, watching clouds and darning my underwear. I love dogs; cats and I just dont understand each other. In the interesting affliction line, I am terrified of wasps and bees and hornets etc, and I have trypophobia - the sight of patterns or formations of holes in things upsets my equilibrium mightily, both mentally and physically. The world is only just starting to believe that it is a genuine condition, albeit a very silly one indeed. One of my favourite colours is tangerine. I love curries and my idea of serious exercise is my usual daily five-mile walk through the lanes, ranting at sparrows and traffic.

Lovely. Purple beans or Green eggs and ham for breakfast?

I say - I dont suppose that I might have a pot of thick, black French coffee and a stack of hot toast and Marmite instead could I? Or porridge made to my personal Poonah in 43 or 44 Indian Army recipe? One cup of oats, one cup of whisky, heat and serve immediately, repeating as necessary until the day looks either approachable or is cancelled altogether by the M.O.

I have seen NGLND XPX on The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company website and I would love to pick it up, but before I do, could you tell me a little about it?

Well, perhaps the first thingie to explain is the title! I loathe text speak with a vengeance, so using NGLND XPX in lieu of England Expects is tongue firmly in cheek. I also reckon that most of the world takes itself far, far too seriously, so this book is an anthology of semi-scifi blatherings all taking the Michael. Victorian inventors spend their days as drunk as skunks and crashing steam trains, Queen Victoria shoots the last no-win no-fee solicitor, the human species leaves the planet altogether in Mr Sir Richard Bransons latest invention - the space-worthy Model-T Virgin, and a labrador dog vomits in a goldfish-bowl spacesuit helmet while some terribly English chaps play cricket and deal with a rogue comet hurtling towards Earth.

Wow, NGLND XPX sounds intriguing, is there a particular part of the story that you really enjoyed writing?

I enjoyed them all at the time of writing, and I dislike them all now! I love the freedom of the blank page, the licence to create any kind of world and any kind of situation. Fiction is so much better than real life...

I knew it was too good to be true for the back of the shed gang to be this quiet. Jack rudely interrupts. 

"Hey dude, tell us who your favourite character(s) are!"

My favourites? Well, I quite like the various steam-locomotive engineers and inventors that I mercilessly caricatured. While they all had the morals and politics of Victorian sewer-rats, they did rather invent the modern world for us.

Sorry about that, but Jack's question brought another question to light, "If NGLND XPX were to be optioned for a movie, who do you see playing your main character(s)?

Well, assuming rather wildly that Canal+ or Ealing Studios or some such were to fork over a squillion Euro-Lira-Pfennigs for the rights and then choose the story “Blood-Curdling Screams and The Whitworth Screw-Thread”... Maggie Smith would need to play an irreverent Queen Victoria, Bill Nighy could choose whatever inventor character he wished and I’d love to see the cast filled up with Timothy Spall, Paul McGann and Paul Bettany and a host of similar others. That’s assuming that I can’t instead somehow go back to the era of James Robertson Justice, Fenella Fielding, Dirk Bogarde and Margaret Rutherford...

They will be perfect, Ian. I could really see that actor(s) playing that part. I was wondering, as a person who writes on the side, during my down time, my writing process starts with forming the story in my head before I put pen to paper, what is your writing process like?

Chaotic. The inside of my mind is a clutter of constantly-playing cartoon versions of the world, sometimes I can grab one and start to write it down. I force myself to plan the whole story but then write it piecemeal and stitch it together in the laboratory, usually during electrical storms.

Who would you rather see in a string bikini, Queen Elizabeth or Prince Charles?

What a treasonous notion - and how bilious a notion in either case. Do please excuse me while I vomit and then ring for the Yeomen Of The Guard to have you carted off to The Tower. Are you sure I couldnt stumble upon Clive Owen in just wellington boots and a smile instead?

Out of the corner of my eye I see Terrance stagger towards us, beer in hand and trip over the lobster pot on the floor, spilling beer all over Ian and his elephant. I bury my head in my hands as he belches and demands to know: 

"All of this sounds fascinating but I heard writing is a hell of a lot of work, why do you do it, what do you get out of it?"

[After wringing out my shirt and lapping up the spilt beer - waste not sober not, as Mother used to say.] Writing is a huge amount of work, and if you add on marketing it is a ridiculous amount of work, and I have no idea why I do it. None of my friends or relatives have a clue. My best guess is that since I am destined to be depicted upside down and hanging like a loon from my branch of our family tree, I might as well leave some proof of insanity lying around.

Thanks for the awkward segue, Terrance, now go over with the rest of the b'ys and let me and Ian have our yarn. Terrance asked you why you like to write, now I want to ask you, is there anything about writing you don't like?

Nope. There are some things about reading that I dislike - gratuitous sex scenes; poor spelling, grammar and global English make me cringe. Violence seems to have replaced variety in this era, and vampires and zombies leave me stone cold. Political correctness can make me groan and consider burning a book.

I reach over and hide the vampire manuscript I'm currently working on, under the crate.

When you write, what is it that you hope your readers take away from your story?

A chuckle; a seriously alternative view of some of the world; slightly less weight on their shoulders; a few ideas to ponder when next they are stuck in the bathroom for desperate, lonely hours, pondering the addition of more fibre to their diet.

Do you have any other stories you are currently writing or are planning to write?

Enough to occupy me full-time for about two years! Ive just about finished the next anthology - The Cat Wore Electric Goggles (more terribly English scifi) and then I must dive into a time-travel romp on the worlds oceans - Rupert Of The High Seas. Lingering in the background I am slowly compiling a factual account of my disasters, close shaves and hairy brides from the years when I worked as an Edwardian-style, bellows camera flash-bang-wallop photographer - Confessions of a Vintage Photographer.

The latter includes true tales about the octogenarian bride who formally accused me of stealing her three-foot wide purple straw hat, and of the time when I was all set up on the Southbank in London and some cretinous oik whom I shall never forgive delivered Mr Johnny Depp to the wrong venue, so our session was cancelled. Oh yes - and the day when I was running an exhibition at a stately home in Cheshire and quite without knowing it I calmly served the stately homes resident ghost - The White Lady.

A very important question about protecting the environment, in your honest opinion do you think a vehicle run on farts would run efficiently and stop our need for the other gas?

It would if it were mine and if I were to be fed a diet of Jerusalem Artichokes, yes. Seriously. I am one of a tiny minority who have a ridiculous allergy to the things, and it manifests itself with life-threatening, uncontrollable, cartoon-worthy farts. On the last (the very last) occasion when I unknowingly ate Jerusalem Artichokes I kid you not, I was on the verge of dialling 999 for an ambulance and having to explain why. Hooked up to a road-vehicle I would have broken world land-speed records and probably single-handedly re-popularised the Sousaphone as a musical instrument. Imagine that being read out by the coroner as cause of death - he died of terminal flatulence, MLud. His buttocks simply couldnt take the stress.

 Thanks a million for answering all my questions…and the others, Ian me ol' chap. It has been a real pleasure. You and the elephant are welcome anytime. As I said before, I have seen NGLND XPX online at The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company, is there anywhere else your book is available and what formats?

My website - [The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company]

Twitter -
 [ @dieselelephants ]


Ian was kind enough to leave behind his personal album for us to have a gander at:

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This hop has many other dates check them out here:

March 18, 014

Kirstin Stein Pulioff

March 19

March 20

March 21

March 22

Anna George Othitis

March 23

Khalid Muhammad

March 24

March 25

Hunter S Jones

March 26

March 27

Jinx Schwartz

March 28

March 29

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