Monday, December 30, 2013

The Conspiracy Kid, E.P. Rose and Questions Answered

You know finding new authors is one of the highlights of this site. Finding new intriguing stories to entertain, new characters to enjoy and new authors to follow is always a delight. 
So it’s my pleasure to welcome author E.P. Rose to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about writing and his newest release, THE CONSPIRACY KID. E.P. lives in London, England, with his restaurateur wife, various daughters, a dog called Frank and a cat called Wednesday.

For more on E.P. and his writing, visit his website and find him on Facebook and Twitter: @tweeteprose.

Here’s a brief synopsis of THE CONSPIRACY KID:

      A sonnet is penned and, lo, the Conspiracy Kid Fan Club is born. Beware. To read this sonnet is to join the Club. Membership is automatic and irreversible.
      This is the story of the earliest unwitting Conspiracy Kid Fan Club members: Edwin Mars (poet), Joe Claude (billionaire), Walter Cornelius (werewolf), Muriel Cohen (chef), Ewan Hoozarmi (artist), to name but a few.

THE CONSPIRACY KID can be found on Amazon, Table Thirteen Books, and other bookstores.

E.P. has graciously answered some questions for me about his book and writing. Welcome, E.P.

Mason - What inspired you to write The Conspiracy Kid?

I think it’s not totally impossible that the Conspiracy Kid inspired me to write THE CONSPIRACY KID. I think that’s the kind of thing the Conspiracy Kid does. Is there all that much difference between inspiring and conspiring? Hard to say. Not sure. Who conspired with my fingers to type what I just typed? 

Actually, you know what, I am not a conspiracy theorist, although I am aware that many of the poor unwitting members of The Conspiracy Kid Fan Club are certainly that way inclined. 

The kind of conspiracies I like are the gentle Keatsian kind, in which Autumn (or Fall, as you say) conspires with the sun to load and bless with fruit the vines that round the thatch eaves run. Who conspired with my brain to think what I just thought? It’s a wonder, really, that I’m not paranoid. But no, I’m not paranoid. I do though have a good deal of justifiable concern. And so should you.

Mason - How much are the characters based on people you know? Would any of them recognize themselves?

The character on whom Joe Claude is based has never knowingly read a novel in his life, so I think we’re safe there. Actually, that’s not entirely true. He had to read Silas Marner, when he was at school, which put him off literature for life and set him on the path of becoming a billionaire. I, on the other hand, survived Silas Marner and subsequently fell in love with books. 

I think that all the characters are based in varying degrees on people I know or know of, but this is not a roman à clef – and whether or not they would recognize themselves is moot. They might. They might not. I have observed that people tend to recognize their good points and fail to recognize the bad. And the thing is that a real person may step onto the pages of a book, but if the story works, it takes over and characters become themselves. 

Obviously, the name is different – but, if I put you into a story and then something happens to you that is quite different from anything that ever happened to youTCK_cover_full_FINAL-1 website before, you would cease to be you, would you not? And then, I suspect, you would cease to recognize yourself.
Edwin Mars, for example, is a strangely fictionalized version of one of my other alter egos – and I don’t recognize him at all. Do you know Kurt Vonnegut’s wonderful The Sirens of Titan? It has a brilliant dedication, which goes something like this: “No attempt has been made to protect the innocent, as the Almighty does this as a matter of heavenly routine.” Mind you, who decides who is innocent and who is not?
Mason - Hamburgers and string… and a werewolf. That’s an odd combination for a book…
THE CONSPIRACY KID is divided into three parts – Fan Club, Hamburger and String. 

Part One, Fan Club, kicks off with the Edwin Mars sonnet in which the Conspiracy Kid first appears – and if you read this sonnet, you are automatically and irreversibly enrolled in The Conspiracy Kid Fan Club. 

Part Two, Hamburger, revolves around a new restaurant called Red, White and Blues, which features the best fictional hamburger you’ll (n)ever eat. 

And the centerpiece of Part Three, String, is an art show by probably the world’s most successful artist – featuring thousands of miles of string. Needless to say, it’s also about string theory and string-pulling and all that other kind of conspiracy kiddish stuff. 

As for poor Walter Cornelius, my benighted werewolf, well, obviously he’s not a werewolf, because, as you ought to know, werewolves are not actually real. However, Walter was the innocent victim of one of the CIA’s mind control drug experiments, as a result of which he behaves like a werewolf, when the moon is full – and his sad story is part of this book.

Mason - The strap line for THE CONSPIRACY KID is ‘you don’t have to be kiddish but it helps’ – how important do you think it is for us all to be a bit ‘kiddish’ in our lives? How kiddish are you…?

My father had this record at home when I was small: You Don’t Have To Be Jewish – by Bob Booker and George Foster, the guys behind The First Family. It’s very funny. For some reason, in what remains of my mind, I always remember it as You Don’t Have To Be Yiddish – and the “but it helps” somehow became attached. 

When the Conspiracy Kid came along and the concept of Kiddishness transpired, it seemed like a good slogan to adapt and adopt. Picasso said: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” I think that’s the kind of thing I’m after here. How do you access the inside infant? Kiddishness does not involve being infantile. You have to be responsible. You have to take care of biz, but ……… listen, childhood is no joke. It is a time of terror as well as joy. 

There you are, totally in the present, in the land of the giants, because that’s what giants are – grown-ups – and your life is intense. Well, I think, that kind of here-and-nowishness, it’s good to be in touch with that. Sense of wonder too. Hang on to that, if you can. The excitement of infinite possibilities. Don’t give up. Keep on growing. As Edwin Mars says in one of his Unsung Songs: “Don’t you know, when you stop growing, that’s when you start to be dead.”
How kiddish am I? I lurk somewhere between first and second childhood, as I guess most of us do.

Mason - What is your writing process? What system do you have to keep you focused and on-track?

I seem to have a tripartite writing process. The first part involves reading, swimming, walking the dog, watching
movies, cooking, even mowing the lawn – anything, in other words, rather than write – and this section of the process is called Research. 
The second part is very slow and laborious and is a combination of decision-making and actual typing – and this section of the process, this uphill struggle, we can call Momentum Building.
And then the third part of the process, this happens when you’ve reached the top of the hill, momentum has been built and yee-hah, it’s downhill all the way – and this we call Fantastically Good Fun, which is what makes the first two parts worthwhile.

Mason - This is your second published novel, your first being ‘Beyond the Valley of Sex and Shopping’ – what was that book about?

Beyond is about what you find “Beyond the Valley of Sex and Shopping” – death, divorce, prison, bankruptcy, boredom, remorse, regret, redemption. So, obviously, it’s a comedy. 

Beyond is a miniature middle-class saga, spanning 30 years of London life, which tells the story of a brother and sister, one of whom lives and one of whom dies. Susan Perry falls in love with and marries Victor Abrahams, a more than somewhat conflicted and muscle-bound writer of unreadable novels. George Perry, her brother, makes a lot of money and manages to lose it all. As a matter of literary interest, it is a geographically displaced, anachronistic prequel to Chekov’s wonderful Uncle Vanya, from whom the cast of characters has been nicked. It seems to make people laugh and cry. I laughed and cried while I was writing it.

Mason - Which author (living or dead) would you most like to have dinner with and why?

Hmmmm. That’s a tricky one. I think there’s an implication in the question that an author with whom one would wish to have dinner is ipso fact an author whose work one admires. Well, of course, one would not wish to dine with someone whose work one disliked, as one would either have to lie or avoid the subject, neither of which eventuality would be conducive to congenial gastronomic intercourse.
Rex Stout might be fun, especially if his fictional chef, Fritz Brenner, could be called upon to man the stove – I fancy Brenner’s squab – and perhaps Rex could invite his good friend P.G. Wodehouse to join the party. Mind you, Rex and P.G. are both at the somewhat dubious end of the political spectrum, and I don’t think they’d take kindly to disapproving mutterings from me. 

Agatha Christie? I always wanted to meet her, but just to say hello, not for dinner. Proust? Tea, not dinner. Hemingway? I sat at his table in Botin in Madrid earlier this year. That’s enough. Cervantes, perhaps? That’s a definite maybe. I know. I know who I’d like to have dinner with. 

I’d like to have dinner with Matthew. Ideally, I would like to have dinner with all four of them, if that’s allowed – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – but Matthew will do, if the others are unavailable. Let’s face it, when all is said and done, The Greatest Story Ever Told is, well, The Greatest Story Ever Told – and I have enough questions to ask about its writing easily to keep us going from soup to cheese and back again.

Mason - If your book were made into a film – who would you like to play whom?

I don’t really see THE CONSPIRACY KID as a film. I see it more as a soap. That’s my genre – literary soap. I would like Alfred Hitchcock to play Joe Claude, the bereaved billionaire. I know Hitchcock usually only plays brief cameos, but as he’s coming back from the dead, I think it’s only fair to give him a starring part. Tippi Hedren can play Ursula, his wife. That would give us a nice dramatic underplot. Jim Furyk, the golfer, can play our werewolf, Walter Cornelius, as the latter is described as looking like the former – but can Jim Furyk act? And the two sisters, one so beautiful, one so bubbly? I don’t know. Edwin Mars? Me? No, I’m not doing it. In fact, I can’t do this at all. I know! It could be a competition. Send in your suggestions – and, as per the previous question, dinner with me for the best Conspiracy Kid cast list. How about that?

Mason - What are you working on next?

I once spent a couple of years working with Lionel Bart on his life story, but he didn’t like talking about the past, which isn’t all that helpful for a biographer – so we abandoned the biography and wrote a musical instead, but it never got made. Then we drifted apart. Then Lionel died. The book I am writing at the moment is inspired by this relationship. Working title: “Mee and I”. It is written in the first person and “I” is a girl – Kitty Kaye Carr – which is an interesting challenge. And that’s as much as I’m prepared to say at this juncture. I am in the foothills of the uphill struggle phase right now – and everything could change tomorrow.

Mason - Finally tell us a secret…

No. Sorry. I won’t. If I tell you a secret, it won’t be a secret any more. Apart from which, if I tell you a secret worth keeping, who knows what might happen? That’s not paranoia. That’s justifiable concern. Alternatively, suppose I have no secrets. Wouldn’t that be terrible secret to keep?

E.P., thanks for joining us today and answering these questions – even if you won’t tell us a secret. J Alfred Hitchcock as John would make for an interesting part to watch.

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Which author would you like to have dinner (or tea) with?


  1. Mason - Thanks for introducing us to E.P. Rose. I respect innovation in writing, and this one does sound like an innovative book. Thanks for sharing about it.

    1. Margot, thanks for stopping by. This is definitely an innovative book. Hope you'll give it a look.

  2. E.P., thanks again for answering these questions and giving us a behind the scenes look at your writing. Wishing you much success.

  3. Great interview with E.P.Rose - thank you!


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