Monday, 29 October 2012

PUSH-UPS: Andrez Bergen

So, what are you pushing right now?
My second novel, 'One Hundred Years of Vicissitude' - though I'd also like to squeeze in plugs for the anthologies 'Hard Labour' from the Crime Factory crew, 'Pulp Ink 2' put together by Nigel Bird and Chris Rhatigan, 'Weird Noir' (K.A. Laity) and 'Off the Record 2', compiled by Luca Veste and Paul D. Brazill.

What’s the hook?

The wayward novel is a surreal/slipstream/noir look at Japan from 1929 on, the story of identical twin centenarians born on the first day of the Great Depression, one of whom loathes the other; it’s a purgatorial tour through twentieth-century Japanese history, with a ghostly geisha who has seen it all as a guide and a corrupt millionaire as her reluctant companion. Thrown into the milieu are saké, B-29s, Lewis Carroll, Sir Thomas Malory, Melbourne, The Wizard of Oz, comics, Japanese cinema, revenge, murder, and a dirigible – along with the allusion that Red Riding Hood might just be involved…

And why’s that floating your boat?

I've lived in Japan (specifically Tokyo) for 11 years, and written a lot as a journalist about the place and its history and cultural quirks - so this has been a great opportunity to do a similar thing in fiction. And to be honest, after the big earthquake and tsunami in the Tōhoku region north of Tokyo last year, I felt like I very much wanted to give something back to this country.

When did you turn to crime?
I'm with Thomas Pluck [] when he says crime is far more enjoyable to read about than indulge in.

I did nick a chocolate bar from the local newsagency when I was about six or seven, but got caught. My only successful criminal tangents were a money-filching scheme with a mate at the school tuck-shop (kiosk), and changing the price stickers on 'Space: 1999' and 'Star Wars' model kits.

Here in Japan people are far too trusting, so I've lost most criminal notions.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?

I do love my harder-boiled contemporary stuff by professionals like James Ellroy, but I tend to prefer the classic noir/hardboiled writings of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Seishi Yokomizo and Mickey Spillane.

Movie-wise I'm a huge noir fan, especially of flicks from the 1940s-60s.

And, what’s blown you away lately?

I tend to read older books - anything decent I can pick up second-hand here in Tokyo - but contemporary authors I'm always keen to explore include Shuichi Yoshida, Josh Stallings, Giles Foden, Heath Lowrance, McDroll, Liam José, Guy Salvidge, Tony Black, Ryu Murakami, Eva Dolan, Andrew Nette, Chad Rohrbacher, Natsuo Kirino, Kristopher Young, Cindy Rosmus, Caleb J. Ross, Chris Rhatigan, Nigel Bird, Paul D. Brazill, Katy O'Dowd, Tony Pacitti, Gordon Highland, Steve Mosby, Jay Slayton-Joslin, Martin Garrity, Phil Jourdan, Craig Wallwork, Keigo Higashino, Michael Gonzalez, Nik Korpon, Chad Eagleton, Eric Beetner, Gerard Brennan, K.A. Laity, Julie Morrigan, R. Thomas Brown, Court Merrigan, Miyuki Miyabe, Patti Abbott and Matthew C. Funk.

Actually, there are a huge bunch of other talented scribes I'd love to mention here, people I've met via Solarcide, the Booked Podcast, LitReactor, Books & Booze and the Writing Cult - like Renee Asher Pickup, Dakota Taylor, Jessica Taylor, Mckay Williams and Bill Johnson. There are loads of cool cats doing interesting things.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
All the time - especially my own, since I'm a movie journalist (17 years now) and started out cutting hack movies on Super-8 back in university. Most of my work is very much cinematically inclined, so I think it'd be easy to shoot 'em - though the surreal parts might be tricky.
Probably Seishi Yokomizo's 'Inugami Clan'

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I'm not the biggest fan of mainstream anything - I used to be especially opinionated regarding electronic music; anything mainstream sucked. Film-wise I tend to prefer indie flicks or offbeat numbers, but I'm just as keen to go check out the "mainstream" stuff now it's crossing over - things like 'Inception' and 'The Avengers'.

Book-wise I'll give anything a whirl, save for Dan Brown - once was definitely enough there.
I still prefer paper. This may be because I don't own an iPad yet, but also I do a lot of writing on the computer, so I don't particularly feel like reading off monitor as well - and I do a lot of my reading travelling to and from work here in Tokyo.

But I think digital has opened up a whole new world of possibilities, just like it did with the music industry.

Shout us a website worth visiting. - I love this site, since there're hundreds of old radio shows, with nuggets including the vocal cords of Vincent Price, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, etc. I've also sampled a lot of the stuff with my Little Nobody side-project.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself.

When I was in primary school I had a pair of Coca-Cola flares. Not my fault - my parents bought them for me.

:: Find out more about Andrez at: