I'd like to welcome author Ian Hutson to Spaceship Urff! Since I can't really say anything about him that he hasn't said better himself, we'll jump right into the interview. Tally Ho!
Just who is Ian Hutson?
My Father was a Grimsby deep-sea fisherman turned Cold War spy, an electronic-warfare expert turned naval historian. My Mother was a factory-worker, home-maker, socialite and lady. When I was born we moved to Hong Kong in time for the worst cholera epidemic, drought and typhoon of the century. As a child I spoke only Cantonese and a little pidgin English.
I learned to read and write at age nine, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland where my Father listened in to the USSR’s transmissions and we all lived on a croft with two pet sheep and a house with no running water and no bathroom. Aged ten we lived in a friend’s public zoo in Norfolk (and I skipped school for the year). Aged fourteen I enjoyed driving my Aunt around to lay off her semi-pro bets at bookmakers. I eventually studied for a BA in Operation Research Systems Analysis and a Masters in Industrial Relations and then started work in the British Civil Service and EDS, ITSA, AVIVA et al. Only got shot at once, while my car was stuck at traffic signals - and they missed me (just).
Corporations and I company on acrimonious terms and I left to concentrate on my own businesses. Naturally, I promptly went bankrupt when the world went belly-up and lost my home, car and valuables to the Official Receiver’s auctioneers, although I must say that the County Court lady Judge was a sweetums, considering. I am now a peacenik vegan hippie living in a hedgerow in Lincolnshire, England, and my hobbies are starving, patching my underwear and being happy. If I grow up then I rather want to be a Womble or possibly a Clanger.
Fair enough. So I understand you do unspeakable things with words. Would you like to speak about it?
I feel that I should talk to someone. Perhaps a trained professional with a couch and a way with hypnotism. The notion that words have rights too is one that often worries me. We pluck them out of the aether and slap them down in new neighbourhoods like demented social workers relocating refugees, but is is fair to the words? In re-homing 'risible' next to 'science' and in putting 'guffaw' next to 'gusset' have we split up a lexicographical family? Will the new combinations work or will there be riots? I practise the most appalling segregation and attempts at linguistic-cleansing in my writing, unashamedly favouring English-English over all of the more modern derivatives. Am I a professional? Yes indeed - I never, never, never approach my typewriter without first donning my white lab-coat and my safety spectacles.
Why did you decide to become a writer?
Sheer ruddy desperation with two sources. I don't have voices in my head, I have cartoonists, and they filter everything that I see and hear about me in the world. There's no escaping them so I decided to humour them by writing their memoirs. Secondly, and this is more to do with desperation, as a disgraced, disgruntled, de-bagged, discharged professional chap beyond the legal commercial re-employment age (in my fifties) and living in rural England without the benefit of a velocipede or so much as a workable bus service, there was nowt else left to try. I think of myself as a Book Breeder. It is my avowed ambition in life to succeed in my attempts to persuade my first edition Heinleins to mate with my Tom Sharpes, to enter the library cages one day and find that my Ronald Searle sketches have spent the night in the same basket as Clarke's 2001.
Tell us a bit about your books.
Many and varied, ramblings, hitherto not at all serious. Like a lot of authors, once I've finished something I tend to dislike it intensely and I have been very careful to always mop up after myself and to unpublish and forget. I'm quite protective of everyone's right to be nostalgic and proud of their roots, whatever they may be, and I thus not only refuse to retrospectively apologise for the English Empire but I glory in its caricature and celebration. Enjoy the past, times were different then and tomorrow will be more different still. I am also a firm believer that reality has enough sad, nasty and violent endings to last beyond the lifetime of the human species, so why add more? I like books that don't depress or worry unduly, and that is what I try to write.
And what's this Diesel-Electric Elephant Company thing I keep hearing about?
The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company - a pre-postcolonial global non-multinational serving the local community. One of the magificent things to come out of Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee OM FBE FRS FREeng FRSA's little invention is the hot poker up the backside of the big publishing houses. Yes, they still rule and ninety-nine percent of the money paid for books still goes into their pockets, but they are now as the titled and landed gentry are - living on borrowed time, dancing to a desperate tune and without the future that they assumed they would always have. Independent publishing has heralded the best of times, and the worst of times. As Queen Victoria once remarked, everyone has a book inside them - and as Mr Churchill glibly corrected while fondling her knee, in most people's cases that is exactly where it should stay. The undeniable benefit to the sudden publication of reams and reams of utter rubbish is that every pile contains a ruby, an emerald of a story or a diamond of a concept. The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company, with its overtones of colonial Raj and its undertones of duffel-coated trainspotting, is the tiny corporate machine that I use to add my reams of crud to the literary pile. It is an ambitious company, a ruthless company, a hungry predator of a company and one day, no doubt about it, will have its own kettle and staff biscuit tin.
What are you working on now?
In accordance with the strict Diesel-Electric Elephant Company policy on conformity, I am working on something completely different - working title Rupert Of The High Seas. A nautical romp populated with merchant bankers, classic pirates (the same profession, surely, separated only in the flow of the fourth dimension) and lashing waves and time travel. As usual I will be taking a potato-masher to an over-cooked pot of history, spicing it up with nonsense and this time adding in a crust of adventure.
There is a pirate captain who has no idea what most of the parts of a ship are called, crew members named after mysterious parts of the ship and a lifetime spent being chased, as was my dear late mother, by the English navy. You simply can't argue with the invention and naval efficacy of the Gatling-Cannon. The gestation and difficult birth of the book will be detailed in the first quarter of 2014 on the DEEC website, www.dieselelectricelephant.co.uk.