Marc Nash is an author of flash fiction, and much more besides. You can check out his blog here, follow him on Twitter here and read a treasure trove of his book reviews on Booksquawk.
Arrived here first? Take a butcher’s at his short stories, starting here.
The Ox: Your work is a swirl of semiotics, a deconstruction of modern life through solid objects that affect all our lives. That’s my book jacket quote, anyway. How would you sum up the purpose of your work?
Marc: I honestly think the novel form has largely remained unchanged since it first started in the late eighteenth century. Its potential for narrative remains barely tapped, other than when the literary modernists such as Beckett, Joyce, (early) Faulkner and ending with Burroughs took liberties with the form. That’s what interests me, finding different ways to express human ideas and emotions. In our current age we have so many new ideas of mind, science, linguistics that weren’t known back then, so my drive is to keep my work contemporary and relevant to our lives. It’s interesting you use the word ‘deconstruction’, as I like to deconstruct the literary form as I write it, to show how it works and how it also fictionalises. I encourage my readers not to suspend their belief when they enter the world of my books, I keep reminding them it is a work of fiction and maybe to get them to reflect on just how that relates to their actual real lives. But yes, it all adds up to an exploration of our modern world, our lives, through the written word.
The Ox: Who is the single biggest influence in your style of writing?
Marc: I don’t have one really. I write through thinking about what doesn’t work for me in books I read. I’m a big fan of Kafka & Beckett, but I’m about as far removed from those master stylists as it’s possible to conceive. Returning to the idea of deconstruction, I like the work of the stand-up comedian Stewart Lee, which apart from being quite literary at points, is also about deconstructing his art even as he performs it. Part of what I do aims for that.
The Ox: Even in the past few weeks we’ve been running your material, it’s apparent to me that Flash Fiction is growing as a literary form. Why do you suppose this might be, and what is it that draws you to shorter short fiction in particular?
Marc: Well 800-1000 words is perfect length for a blog, or convenient to read on your phone or tablet. Couldn’t imagine reading a novel on such devices. I’m drawn to it because it offers the most possibility for playing with narrative form; some of the things you do could never be sustained over the length of the novel, it would just irritate or alienate the reader, but over the length of 1000 words they can stay with the innovation. And it also places an emphasis on language, as you have to be precise with no place for wastage.
The Ox: How integral to your work is spoken word performance?
Marc: Well apart from it being the best part of being a writer, you get instant feedback from an audience, you get to learn more things about your work than when you wrote it and it can become another thing altogether. I had a flash story about Alzheimer’s, only 250 words long, and I performed it live, but it never quite worked to my mind. The words mutate into other words as the stricken mind of the narrator reaches for words that have vanished and only clutches near sounding words. Then I realised I needed to show this visually, the mutation of one word into another, so I worked with someone to render it into a kinetic typography video. Only through reading it live did I come to appreciate what the work needed. I like to put on a bit of a show when I read, so I may dress up, while I also read in the manner of slam poets and ‘enact’ the pieces. I always try and ask myself why am I reading this particular piece, to this particular audience and that usually informs the way I perform it. I once read a piece lying down with the audience stood over me. I also read a piece snapping photos of the audience as I moved and read on a mobile phone. All good clean fun!
The Ox: What are your current, and forthcoming projects?
Marc: Well I’m trying to track someone down to collaborate with on for kinetic typography video versions of about 5 of my flash stories, but they’re proving elusive creatures. I’m writing a novella about reading as an act of voyeurism. And I have a big novel length project that will be a digital work, that is it will only be available online since the reader can navigate their own way through the work rather than me giving them a fixed order. There’s also a fully storyboarded graphic novel that needs illustrating.
The Ox: Finally, what’s your favourite finger food for the pub?
Marc: Depending which part of London the pub is located in, vegetable tempura or Twiglets.