The Kit Cox Interview

Ladies and Gentlemen! Pull up a pew, pour yourself a jot of gin. For your delight and delectation, a Steampunk celebrity with a faithful following, a charming chap charading as compact killer cad. A pa, a pantomimist, a penman, I give you “your own, your very own”….Kit Cox!

Author, illustrator, creator of  the Steve Jackson game “Evil Ted”, stand-up comic, actor, and host for Hendrick’s Gin (!); Kit Cox writes under his own name and that of Major Jack Union – the title character of his sci-fi series. The Union-verse books are set in an alternate universe where history and literature exist alongside each other with the presence of monsters being kept secret by agents of the British Empire.

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Hi Kit, Good morning and Welcome, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog; Flailing Through Life…

Me: And talking about flailing; Do you ever find yourself ‘flailing through life’?  

Kit: I very rarely flail; as is the case with most creatives I have what is often referred to as a mental illness and in my case I am a sociopath. First off it’s one of those great mental illnesses that allow me to not see it as such, although I am aware my actions are sometimes hurtful or harmful to those around me it is difficult to connect those problems to myself. I also don’t panic or flail as I see no reason or point to it.
I’m a great fan of Procrastination but I avoid the flail.

 

Me: Kit, you’re very involved in the world of Steampunk – having hosted events at The Asylum, Lincoln, and your earlier books dipped into this genre. For readers who may not have heard of Steampunk (I know! Can you believe such beings exist!), could you give a ‘general’ explanation in relation to your writing?    

Kit: In my mind steampunk is a fantastical spirit of adventure and invention that manifests in a neo-Victorian aesthetic (is that suitably poncy enough? Me: Absolutely!) I do appreciate it means different things to different people but I do hate the idea that in certain minds literature has no place in the genre, which is a developing trend.

 

Me: When you’re working on a novel or idea, do you have a ‘special place’ you work in; like a shed at the bottom of the garden, or a ‘den’ in the deepest cellar of your house? And is it important to have such a place? 

Kit: I have two places I write, a very comfortable armchair that faces a picture window, because I love being able to just stare at the sky when I think (I’d prefer an ocean but that would mean the biblical flooding of my home town…or a move) the second place is my study, a subterranean man cave full of trinkets, Lego and reference books.

 

Me: I know that you’re a fan of the comic genre. Tell me, what is your writing Kryptonite?  

Kit: Procrastination is the main thing that stops me from writing; I get distracted by shiny objects.

 

Me: And do you ‘channel’ the spirit of anyone or thing when you write? (I’m thinking Harry Flashman) If not, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?  

Kit: When I wrote my Jack Union books I certainly had Flashman held tight to my thoughts but the Ben Gaul books are my life made fantasy and Dr Tripps’ my joy of Japanese B movies. My most recent books set on a fantasy 2nd earth are homage to Saturday morning cinema and Edger Rice Burroughs; so in short no single muse but always an inspiration lurks.

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Me: What is the first book (another author) that made you cry? And have you ever shed any tears when writing your own pieces?

Kit: I’ve never had a book make me cry before; sad certainly but never to the point of tears. Books for me often bring stupid amounts of laughter or that weird suppressed giggling you sometimes hear on trains (I used to love listening to my father laugh whilst he was reading Tom Sharpe books). Books have made me stupidly turned on and in one case one made me gag quite violently, i honestly thought I’d vomit but never tears.

 

Me: What other authors are you friends with, and do they help you become a better writer?

Kit: As authors you spend a lot of time talking to other authors; normally before panels. I don’t think any have actually helped me become a better author as I write books for me not others so take little advice (apart from on spelling and punctuation from my editors). I’ve actually taken umbrage at an author once trying to give me advice; the desire to tell them to make their own books more readable first was high in my mind. That being said I do occasionally adapt my writing based on what my readers tell me, as their words are often conversation rather than advice “I wish I knew what this character was thinking?” for instance as a comment made me start adding more internal dialogue for supporting cast rather than just the main cast.

 

Me: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Kit: I didn’t write as a youngster. I started writing out of illustrator frustration and a need to escape a job with a very serious agenda.

 

Me: So what advice would you give your ‘non-writing’ younger self?

Kit:  I’d tell my younger self. You won’t always be the cute little brother or the fugly teen, you’ll blossom into a handsome eagle and tear the throats out of your enemies. Also you won’t go blind and it won’t fall off…enjoy it. Me: smilie

 

Me: Which authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

Kit: Terry Pratchett  I certainly had to grow into; I hated the first two books (I don’t really do high fantasy. Never liked the Lord of the Rings either, read it twice thinking I was missing something. I still don’t believe I am; the hobbit was great but LotR needs a damn good edit in my opinion) that being said Mort became one of my all time favourites.

 

Me: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Kit: I have two unpublished and one half finished book. The First unpublished book was written by request of my publisher who then decided to release a different book of mine first and then they retired leaving the fully written and illustrated sequel to “How to Bag a Jabberwock” unwanted by other publishers (who rarely touch a sequel). The second unpublished book is my masterpiece; I love it so much and won’t let it go for anything other than to the highest bidder. I’m so proud of it I’d happily keep it to myself like a dragons hoard if the price isn’t right; I’ve released two books since its creation.

I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I didn’t always have a book on the go and at least three more ideas in waiting.

 

Me: And finally, what is your favourite childhood book?                                                          

Kit: Didn’t have one; I was a doodler not a reader, my brother was the reader. ‘2000AD’ was the only thing I read and this went well into my twenties.

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Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed, Kit Cox.

You can find Kit at http://cpeacey.wixsite.com/kitcox  and buy his books at Waterstones , Amazon and http://cpeacey.wixsite.com/kitcox/books .

 

Next time; join me for another chat with Craig Hallam; author of Greaveburn.

 

What’s Your Poison?

Q: What do you get when you mix alcohol with literature?

A: Tequila Mockingbird.

I know, it’s a bad one.

This morning, I began my day with two cups of tea. Yes two, wow, aren’t I a hedonist! Around this time – or at work, 10.30, I have a cigarette. On the weekends, my tipple of choice is gin; G & T, Gin Sling, Gin Cocktails, or cider.

So today, I decided to take a look at, not only the tipple but drug of choice of some literary characters.

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis

Probably one of the best descriptions of a hangover in literature. Jim Dixon drinks beer, and lots of it, he says that he cannot afford spirits.

Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.”

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James Bond by Ian Fleming.

A lot, when you begin digging about – including Scotch and Soda, Whiskey, Champagne,  Vodka martinis, Red Wine, White Wine, but famous for The Vesper Martini; shaken not stirred. (By the way, it was Dr. No who first said those words). A light-hearted study revealed that  James Bond was a major alcoholic, in a category of drinkers at highest risk of developing malignancies, depression, hypertension, and cirrhosis. Despite his reputation as a womanizer, he likely would have suffered from sexual dysfunction. Glamorous much!

The author – James Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, loved drinking gin – sometimes a bottle a day – but was converted to bourbon at the suggestion of his doctor who thought it might be marginally less damaging for his health.

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Harry Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser

Champagne, Beer, Gin, and many other unspecified ‘stiff drinks’.

Harry Flashman drank to get drunk, leading to him being expelled from Rugby school for drunkenness.

I knew better than to mix my drinks, even at seventeen.

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Dr. Jekyll by Robert Louis Stevenson

THAT drink! You know; the one that turned him into his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. But Jekyll’s is more like a chemical addiction to his alternate persona.

The author – Apparently, Stevenson wrote the tale of Dr. Jekyll during a cocaine binge.

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Jay Gatsby by F. Scott Fitsgerald

A man who made his fortune from bootlegging is remarkably restrained when it comes to alcohol. Though we know he drinks; Mint Juleps, Champagne, and wine, what Gatsby really wants is “the incomparable milk of wonder.”, the milk of life (aka mother’s milk). Gatsby is in control of his drinking, unlike…

The author – Loved gin. “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Cigarettes, Cigars and a Pipe. Also Cocaine and Morphine; used occasionally to escape, as he said, from “the dull routine of existence.” He injects his cocaine in a seven-percent solution with a syringe. It must be mentioned, though, that Holmes in not a drug addict, this recreational use of drugs like cocaine was common in the Victorian era.

The author – although Doyle believed in fairies, he did not do drugs, or drink to excess as far as we know.

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Mark Renton by Irvine Welsh

Heroin – primarily. “We took morphine, diamorphine, cyclizine, codeine, temazepam, nitrazepam, phenobarbitone, sodium amytal, dextropropoxyphene, methadone, nalbuphine, pethidine, pentazocine, buprenorphine, dextromoramide, chlormethiazole. The streets are awash with drugs you can have for unhappiness and pain, and we took them all. Fuck it, we would have injected vitamin C if only they’d made it illegal.” Renton and his pals are a mess; a grimy, stinking, rotten-breathed, heaving mass of an almost waste of space.

The author – Welsh drinks Green Tea (though he did briefly experiment with heroin).

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However, the award for consumption, in quantity as well as variety, goes to:

Raoul Duke by Hunter S. Thompson

We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers… Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug-collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge, and I knew we’d get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.”

Also, Singapore Slings.

The authorThompson himself took…  everything!!

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So we took a turn there, from good old beer, to the crazy world of ether and mescaline. Like the world of Jazz, literature is packed as full as an 80’s models nose of cocaine, with drug use.

Writers, is required to be creative; or do we they just love it?

The rest:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Opium

Thomas De Quincey, Laudanum

Charles Baudelaire, Hashish

Aldous Huxley, Mescaline

Jack Kerouac, Benzedrine

William Burroughs, Heroin

Philip K Dick, Speed

Stephen King, Cocaine

Oscar Wilde, Absinthe

William Faulkner, Mint Julep

Dorothy Parker, Whiskey Sour

Ernest Hemingway, Mojito

 

I’m not advocating that people go out and get as inebriated as Flashman or as toked up as Holmes. But you have to admit kids, there’s a hell of a lot of creativity and entertainment that’s come out of it!

I just noticed when I completed writing this – there is only one woman on the list – Dorothy Parker. Are we to assume that female writers do not imbibe, or are they just more secretive about it?! Let me know if you find out.

Ta ta for now chaps and chapesses.