Saturday, May 21, 2011

A SLIGHTLY-LONGER-THAN 60 SECOND CHAT WITH SHY YETI


Here is an interview that I did recently with a Beargrrrian magazine called THE GROWL GAZETTE – they know me over there due to my dubious connection with a certain Beargrrrian superstar named Charlie Grrr. The interview is mostly about my new book - YETI HUGS AND OTHER HORRORS. So, here’s what they asked and what I said in reply – straight from the horse’s, erm – yeti’s mouth, as it were!

Q. So, Paul - tell us about your latest book. Firstly, what’s it called?

A. Well, the title is YETI HUGS AND OTHER HORRORS – although that wasn’t the only title it went under. During the year or so I worked on it, it went under three different names – from THE DEATH OF LOVE to LOVE HUGS AND YETI FUZZ before I finally settled on this! I needed it to sound, at least, a little menacing – as the contents of this particular book are a little darker than usual…

Q. How does it differ from your last book DO YETI WEAR PYJAMAS? which came out last year on www.lulu.com?

A. I feel it differs quite a bit… There are more than just poems, this time there are also a few vignettes inspired by my visit to Los Angeles in August 2010 – not to mention nine short yet darkly-humorous horror stories. I’ve been getting back into horror over the last 18 months or so and so my ideas seem to be going down a sort of Joe Orton meets Stephen King path – and I’m very pleased about it too…

Q. Tell us about some of your favourites from the new book - which piece or pieces are you most proud of?

A. Well, I'm very happy that I've spent more time writing prose, recently… I am especially pleased with the short stories in this collection because I feel I’ve been able to write something that you might even class as a black comedy. My horror stories are horrible – but they are as much about the ludicrousness of the situation that the characters find themselves in than trying to be scary. For instance, in THE UNWANTED NEIGHBOUR the story is as much about the rivalry between an old woman and the monster who lives next door – with the moral that gossip is far more powerful as a weapon than sharp razor teeth! I’m also especially fond of a number of the poems – BECOMING MORE CAT-LIKE, YOU – ME AND THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS, JUST TO GET MYSELF TO YOU, GEOGRAPHY BE DAMNED, RESPECTABLE TEXTS, CUPCAKE, A FLEA TEA PARTY, A SWEET TAIL, WE’RE AN ITEM NOW and a number of others are already ones that have received nice comments at my shows or when recorded for videos and I hope in years to come I’ll still want to include these ones in my sets.

Q. How is the performance poetry going?

A. Good. Of course it’s still early days in many ways and I learn new things all the time. I still do shows at The Poetry Café twice a year and hopefully get the chance to read at other events along the way. This year is the first opportunity I’ve had to arrange a show with other poets so it’ll be very exciting to see how that goes!

Q. Are there any of your new poems that you feel are working especially well when performed live?

A. Definitely - and it's not always the obvious ones – sometimes it’s the ones I’ve asked the audience to pick randomly, which I’ve almost forgotten about – especially if it’s the older ones. I did one show last year where I provided the audience with the contents page of every book I had written up until that point and asked them each to select a titles from the contents page that they had been handed. In most cases they didn’t know the poem – but selected one for me to read by how much the title interested to them. It worked pretty well – nobody selected anything I really didn’t want to read, thankfully – but there aren’t TOO many of those. As for recent poems – any of the ones I mentioned earlier seem to be the ones working best; CUPCAKE always comes across in a far more sinister manner than I ever expected when I first wrote it. It’s like a stalking poem to a cake!!

Q. When is your next show?

A. I'm doing a show at The Poetry Café next month, Thursday 16th June 2011 with three other performers – John Smallshaw, Gary Groves and the legendary Wilfredo. It’s called AN EVENING WITH SHY YETI – AND OTHER ANIMALS and is for WOOD GREEN ANIMAL SHELTERS. I can’t really say anything more about it than that – but I do know it’s going to be very good!

Q. Will you be reading anything new?

A. Yes, indeed… One, maybe two new pieces – I suppose it depends on who you are and whether you’ve seen me perform my work before – to a lot of the audience it’ll all be new. But anyhew! Either way I am hoping to perform something new which I hope will appear in my FUNERAL FOR A SHOE collection next year. One A PERFECT MATCH is written especially for the night and the other I am also considering is called LOVE-GO-ROUND and was only written a few days ago; but keeps whispering in my ear asking to be performed. We’ll see – I won’t make a decision yet; although I expect to get to read about ten pieces on the night.

Q. Any other upcoming shows?

A. Well, following on from my April show I have another planned for mid-November which is really all about celebrating 10 years since my first collection: JUNK/FOOD was published back in 2001. I’m issuing a 10th anniversary special edition with new commentary and photos to coincide with that and I’m expecting to read some poems from this book that ordinarily I would probably try and avoid! As much as I like JUNK/FOOD it has one or two pieces written back in 1992 that make me blush just a tad – let’s just say I’ve written better pieces since. That said I still feel that I could turn them into something worth hearing when I perform them. I also intend to read quite a bit from THE VAMPIRE COWS OF SCUNTHORPE – which is the book that I have coming out in the summer. In addition to that I’m hoping to read some really new pieces and then one or two old favourites.

Q. How is the SHY YETI ON LOCATION series progressing?

A. Very well, I’d say. I have posted a number of videos up this year – the last two episodes of my A YETI BACK IN HOLLYWOOD series, a video called A YETI IN WINTER which was just 100-word stories, a performance video from my April 2011 show – not to mention finally getting around to editing SHY YETI VERSUS AUTUMN which I had intended to have ready last year, but which I ran out of time to finish. This last video appears in two parts – the first part featuring myself and Mr McCauley in various locations around London – as well as a yeti dance on a balcony on Manchester. The second episode was filmed in the English countryside and features a daft song, a rude limerick – silly accents – loads of out-takes and the only footage that survived from my trip to Venice in November 2010. The next series of videos was filmed in Paris in late April 2011 and should start appearing by early June – I’m not sure if that will end up as two or three episodes. There are also a few more episodes that I hope to film over the summer, including a return to Los Angeles in July and a general mooch around the English countryside – rather like last year’s SHY YETI IN THE COUNTRY episode.

Q. What about the forthcoming Paris episodes? Anything you can tell us about? Mr McCauley is back again, we hear?

A. Absolutely. All who watched the 2nd SHY YETI VERSUS AUTUMN episode will have seen a few Paris clips at the end – basically it’s all in the can – not that there’s actually a can; but I’m only just starting to edit the episodes now. I managed a number of new stories – an old poem – a yeti dance and a number of daft sketches with Monsieur McCauley. We filmed near The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Pere Lachaise – basically anywhere we could. I just hope viewers enjoy it!!

Q. Can we expect to see any other parts of the States during your next trip?

A. Yes, indeed. Other than the usual L.A. location I expect to be taking a trip out to Portland, Oregan for a few days – so I’m hoping that I can set an episode there too. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be filming until I get there – but will probably read some new pieces and short stories from THE VAMPIRE COWS book. I also expect to be back in The States in November – but who knows what I’ll get up to then! There may even be a film from another European destination – but we’ll see!

Q. Will you be returning to open-mike in L.A.?

A. I'd very much like to if they'll have me back and there is time. My priority is to spend lots of quality time with Mr McCauley and then secondly recording more videos and taking photos for which ever book I'm working on by then.

Q. And you've nearly finished another book?

A. Yes… Two really! But that's just the way it often seems to happen… It's not as if I finished work on YETI HUGS AND OTHER HORRORS in March and then began the next one in April - I began THE VAMPIRE COWS OF SCUNTHORPE in October and have been working on it since then whilst I was proofing the other collection. It’s just that every day I write it’s nice to work on some fresh writing – to spend half an hour or an hour to write a poem or some prose; but the reverse of that and the more boring side is the proofreading. So the balance is that I’m usually writing something new whilst putting the finishing touches to an older book.

Q. It still sounds like you came up with lots of ideas very quickly? How come?

A. I’ve always had a lot of ideas and I write every day – I had a pretty prolific year back in 2009 too, but on this occasion I blame it on those 100-word stories. I already had half a book written which was mainly poetry – but then suddenly I had a lot of ideas that really suited this 100-word format and once I had those ideas it was quite easy to write two or three a day whilst commuting to work or during a lunch break. Other than cutting them down to 100 words they didn’t need a lot of proofing – so the whole process of writing the second half of THE VAMPIRE COWS OF SCUNTHORPE went very quickly between January and March 2011.

Q. You read some of the stories during an episode of SHY YETI ON LOCATION didn’t you? Will you still be writing poetry?

A. I certainly will – in fact I finished one over the weekend called LOVE-GO-ROUND which I hope to read at the Poetry Café show in June. But you’re right – I did read some of the 100-word stories and probably will do again; I’m certainly focussing more on prose at the moment – but in different forms. For instance, the book after VAMPIRE COWS which I am currently working on, called A FUNERAL FOR A SHOE, has a mixture of prose and poetry – but I’ve already moved on from writing 100 word stories to writing maybe 500 to 1000 word pieces; something with a little more meat but which might not be any longer than, say, two sides of A4 paper. Basically I’m writing in all sorts of formats – not imposing too many rules and regulations and just seeing what happens… I’m also finding that I’m writing more about things or places or experiences that I’ve been involved with lately. I guess what I’ve been writing about lately are more just bizarre black comedies rather than necessarily horror or ghost stories out-right.

Q. And what is the other book you mentioned?

A. The new Mouse of Commons novel - the first since 2008’s GLADSTONE MCWHISKERS THROWS IT ALL AWAY (the other Mouse books since then have all been short story collections.) I’m quite excited that it is nearly done as I’ve been working on this book on and off since 2007 and now that it’s finished I am already thinking about its sequel – not to mention finishing off a number of other Mouse short stories that are all finished, except for needing to be typed up.

Q. Well, that's about all for now - can I ask one more question? What ever happened to Sutton Park SW1?

A. Ah, I knew you'd ask that one! There are a number of episodes in the can ready to go – but I’ve just not had time to edit them as well as writing the books and working on SHY YETI ON LOCATION videos. I’m hoping to get more episodes edited later this year and into 2012 – which is the 20th anniversary of the show.

Q. That's good news. Thank you, Paul.

A. That's okay, thank you for having me – hopefully we’ll growl again soon.

So, there you have it! More soon! Yeti hugs, Paul xx



This interview was conducted in May 2011 and is Copyright Paul Chandler/Growler Gazette 2011. 

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