Lucky for me, he was more than willing to oblige my questions about sci-fi, music and what drives him to write. If your interested in reading some of Vogler's work, links to his books will be posted at the end of the interview.
It's something I've always done; I’ve always been someone who enjoys making stories
up. You tend to gravitate towards the things that come easiest to you, I suppose. I was
always writing things when I was younger – very early on it became obvious that this
was simply one of the things I did to unwind. As I got older, I kept doing it. It's still one
of the main ways that I relax. Every time I think I can stop, I end up realising that nope, I can't. It's in my bones, for better or worse.
Q: The Overused Question: eReader or Paperback?
I love both formats. I own lots and lots of paperbacks, and yes, they're a nightmare
when you move house. But the truth is, these days I probably read more books – and
read more often – than I ever did before getting my Kindle. Digital reading has made
discovering obscure writers and interesting books easy, and I love that part of it. I also
love that these days my TBR pile, being mostly digital, isn’t threatening to need its own
Q: If you could pick the brains of any author, who would it be and why?
I’m afraid I can’t pick just one, so here’s a sort of scattershot answer. I would have
loved to have sat down and had a few drinks with Philip K. Dick and also Douglas
Adams, because they each had amazing and unique minds and styles. I would still love to have a few drinks with Paul Auster, who I think is a remarkable author. One of the people I like who’s active on Twitter is Richard Morgan, the author of the Takeshi
Kovacs books; he comes across like a man who says what he thinks. Again, a few
drinks with all these guys would be a lot of fun. Writers are naturally a bit reclusive, but
the truth is I enjoy shooting the breeze with other authors. When writers get together
we’re able to laugh at ourselves and at our oh-so- serious preoccupations, and revel a
bit in how absurd this whole game is. That’s really important I think.
Q: Is writing a full-time affair, or do you fit it in with a ‘day job’?
Ha! Is there any such thing as a full-time author anymore, besides the six or seven big brand names we could all pluck out of the air? I have a day job and I'm a husband and father, so no, writing is an enduring obsession and continuing preoccupation, not a job. I pity the man who has mouths to feed and only writing as his means to feed them!
Q: If you could recommend one book to me - other than your own - what would it be?
The Fermata by Nicholson Baker. A man can stop time at will. He uses the power for sex. Never read anything else like it.
Oh yes, massively. I have to soundtrack everything I write - it helps get me to the right place mentally and tonally. I hate writing in silence. Silence is for exam-takers,
meditating monks and precision watchmakers (yeah, I have no evidence to back that
last example up). I need wall-to- wall music, please.
Q: What would you say is the best genre of music to write to?
No idea. Whatever suits the mood. As a general rule I'd say to avoid lyric-rich music, as too much language in the air can be distracting (unless you know the music very well). Ambient, groove-driven electronica works well for me, but there are no rules so far as I'm concerned.
Q: What was the last song you listened to and how did you listen to it?
Right now as I’m typing this I’m listening to an old Pepe Deluxe album called Beatitude on my iPod Classic, which is hooked up to an external speaker. Prior to this I was listening to the excellent Doves album Some Cities via CD in my car.
Q: Which band made you fall in love with music?
Um... I was in love with music long before I ever realised I was in love with it. My first big band obsession was I suppose Nirvana; they were the first band that really spoke to me as a teenager. There have been many, many others since then...
Q: Do you outline your stories before sitting down to write, or do you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants?
A bit of both. I know the general direction I’m going in, I know a lot of the beats I want to incorporate, and I have a pretty good idea of how it's all going to end. But I like to leave room for discovery and experimentation. If something works and an idea occurs to me that changes the course of what I'm writing for the better, I'll go with it, so long as it feels right.
Q: How do you stay motivated to keep writing?
If I experience a lull (and I have done, many times) then I simply stop writing and get on with my life. I'm always pulled back by some idea or another that won't stop bugging me. One day, I might walk away and never go back to it. One day…
Q: Social media plays such a big role in author notoriety these days, especially for indie authors. What is your stance on the subject?
I'm not convinced social media is the great and magnificent unit shifter it's made out to be. On the other hand, it's undoubtedly useful for quickly sharing things and building up relationships with people you’d otherwise never be aware of. Basically, I love Twitter, am somewhat ambivalent about Facebook, don't use Instagram, and run a blog, which I seem to enjoy neglecting for long periods.
second installment due out and what can we expect?
Thanks for saying that! Tripler 2: No Subtitle Yet is going to be out next year (2017),
unless I unexpectedly turn into George RR Martin. You can expect a blood-soaked
revenge tale that twists and twists and twists, narrated by a seriously broken but
seriously motivated MC who, though he’s growing more and more tired of violence,
still has an astonishing talent for it. And there’ll be a few jokes, and also – though it’s
too early to talk about it – a really, really formidable opponent for Harry to face down.
She’s going to blow your mind.
Q: The Tripler story is quite unique. Where did your inspiration come from and has the
story been something you’ve been thinking of for a while?
I just liked the idea of having simultaneous control of two other selves at the same time as your normal body, and the implications of that in the context of an action narrative. I had great fun creating the rules (such as how Tripled objects work, for example) and I thought about them for a very long time, probably longer than was healthy. The inspiration came to me on a dog-walk at the woods; I get a lot of ideas when I go walking. Most of them are stupid though!
Q: Seeing that the three characters, Will, Way and Harry are technically all the same
person, have you ever put any thought who could pull off playing these three on the big screen?
Dan Stevens perhaps? Watching him in The Guest made me think he'd make a pretty decent Harry Allwear. As a bonus bit of fantasy casting, Adrienne Palicki would be a perfect Shannon.
Q: It’s common for writers to hide pieces of themselves in their characters. Do you find yourself relating to any one of your characters more than the others?
Uh... no? I’ve written a lot of characters over the years. They are all me, and yet they
are very clearly not me. I have a soft spot for some of them: Matthew Malarkey, for
example, is the ruined ex-child star in a trio of stories in my short story collection
Crash Bang Money. I like him a lot; he’s a trier. And I thoroughly enjoy but am
occasionally disturbed by writing the character of Way, who is one of Harry’s alternate
selves in Tripler.
Q: Is Sci Fi your typical go-to genre when you’re looking for something to read?
Not at all. I’m wide open on the reading front – if it grabs me I’ll read it.
Q: What’s your favourite Sci Fi film?
Cor, that’s a hard, hard question. Children of Men was an amazing, visceral experience the first time I saw it in the cinema. My favourite sci-fi movie of all time though... nah, I’m sorry. I can’t pick just one!
Oh, all right. It’s The Empire Strikes Back.
It contains 25 of my short pieces, most of which have appeared elsewhere at some point, collected together for the first time. Some of them have a sci-fi edge, some of them are set in what might be the here and now. All of them are a bit weird, or quirky, or disturbing, or hopefully affecting in some way, and each are shot through with flashes of humour. There’s a serial killer’s victim that just won’t die; a psychic
employed by the police who might be way more powerful than anyone realises; a
busker haunted by a vision of his dead brother, who takes him on a chase across the
city; and a man who ends up using an aubergine as a weapon. Plus many, many more
stories, including one about tomato sauce bottles that may or may not have been sent
to warn us of an alien invasion. Think of it as a smorgasbord of fictional delights!
Q:Your short stories have been described as “toe-curlingly weird”. What is it you like
about writing stories that will make people cringe?
I don’t think I like making people cringe, exactly. But I am fascinated by psychology,
and I enjoy exploring the psychology of characters that are often lost in some fashion,
whether they realise it or not. I enjoy seeing how far I can take concepts or ideas, and
sometimes that involves heading into territory that’s ideologically ‘dangerous’. But
then, that’s the fun of writing fiction, right?
Q: Have you always written short stories?
Yes. I love short stories, I love the craft involved in pulling them off successfully, and I love the fact that they can suggest so much whilst often revealing so little. A good short story, correctly handled, can be like an electric shock for your mind, and have a potent effect on you. That kind of writing is addictive.
Q: What would you say makes a really memorable short story?
The story has to develop in an unexpected way, and it has to sing with subtext.
Q: Tell me about your column, Neil Vogler's Underappreciated, on Garbage-File and
Back after Tripler came out a gentleman called Steve Taylor-Bryant reviewed it for a
site called Garbage-File. He enjoyed the book, we got talking (read: we started taking
the piss out of each other) via Twitter, and somehow he ended up persuading me to
become part of his growing media empire. I have an occasional column that runs on
both sites where I enthuse about books or movies or albums that I feel are slightly
under-loved or underrated by the general populace. It’s a lovely thing to be a part of
because it’s really just me talking about things that I enjoy, and it’s a very positive
column where I am afforded lots of freedom.
Q: What’s next in the life of Neil Vogler?
Tripler 2 is in full swing, and I’m working on a new collection of short stories, all of
which are connected by one thing. But I can’t tell you what that thing is yet, because
it’ll spoil the surprise...