Q: Today author Marc Nash has had time to sit down with us and have a chat! If you can, I’d love it if you can share a little bit about yourself and what types of stories you enjoy writing as well as which genres you write in?
A: Hi I’m Mac Nash, aged 57 and the father of grown up twin boys. I’ve been writing since university, where I started writing stage plays, but switched to fiction when my boys arrived and I couldn’t commit the time to the theatre. I write literary fiction and am interested in exploring ideas both about our world, but also about fiction itself. I’ve had published six novels and five collections of flash fiction. My fifth novel “Three Dreams In The Key Of G” was shortlisted for the 2018 Not The Booker Prize. Both it and my current new novel “Stories We Tell Our Children” were informed by being a parent.
Q: Your latest release is a collection, “Stories We Tell Our Children” from Lendal Press. What can you tell me about it and what was your inspiration behind this one?
A: To my mind it’s a novel told though short stories, but readers will make up their own minds as to whether it’s a novel or a short story collection and I’m fine with that. The thematically linked stories present many of the different narratives and stories our children are exposed to, from alphabet primers, fairy tales, scifi, detective fiction and then some non-literary story narratives such as ballet, Punch and Judy, advertising and boy bands. It’s through this wide span of different types of narrative, the book examines whether these are the right types of stories to set our children up for the increasingly complex wold and also to navigate the perils threatening our planet. As to how it came about, I was experiencing writer’s block with novels, though I was still writing short and flash fiction, when I thought back to certain events in my life and came up with 7 stories based on my experience both as a child but also as a father; but it was only when I came up with an eight which was drawn completely from my imagination rather than actual experience, that I realised that if I could write more like that then I had a book. After that the writing flowed pretty rapidly and the book came together relatively quickly.
Q: You’ve released quite a few works, prior to your most recent collection which would you say is your favorite so far, and why?
A: It’s perhaps quite weird but I don’t have a favourite. So my answer which sounds a bit corny is, ‘my next one’. But it’s true, each new work throws up its challenges and questions that the process of writing will hopefully answer and that’s why I sit down to write. Those challenges and questions which I also want answering (as well as hopefully the reader does) is what motivates me to write rather than go out for a meal or to a film (in the days when we all did that sort of thing). It also means that once I’ve finished writing a book and it’s published, that I’m not really devoting any mental energy to it anymore, because my thoughts are wrapped up in the next one. I recently watched one of the videos I made for my debut novel back in 2009 and was surprised by it in a nice way!
Q: Are there any characters whom you’ve written in the past that you’d like to revisit in a future story?
A: Not really. As in the previous question, I regard each novel as posing a set of challenges and asking a set of questions, that the process of writing has largely answered by the end of the process. Therefore there aren’t really any loose ends or unanswered questions I feel merits further exploration in a future work. That’s not to say some of my characters haven’t surprised me. The character Karen Dash in my debut novel “A,B & E” terrifies me! She’s very intimidating.
Q: Where were you born (and/or are you from) and how has that affected your writing?
A: I’m London born and bred, but my mother is from Manchester and there has always been like a shadow side of my identity that resides in Manchester even though I had only ever visited rather than lived there. I explored the idea of a geographically-based shadow side in my previous novel “Three Dreams In The Key Of G” where I expressed it as a tug of war of influence on a child between the homeland of her mother and that of her father. As to whether London influences my writing, it’s hard to say. I tend to set my novels in places I imagine how they are, rather than places I’ve visited in actuality, although my next novel is set in London’s suburbia.
Q: You are also a Booktuber! This isn’t something I’ve had a chance to cover much here quite yet. Could you share a bit about what Booktubers do and how that came to be?
A: Basically Booktubers talk about books, from reviews to new purchases (called hauls) to tag games such as scavenger hunts based around bookish prompts and questions. The community is very varied in reading tastes, but one thing we all share is a love for books. I’ve picked up many recommendations for books to read that I wouldn’t otherwise have even heard about. As to how I got started, it’s a bit odd in that I just started making videos talking about books before I realised here was even a thing called Booktube. When I found there was this pre-existing community, I rapidly retagged my videos as Booktube videos! I don’t know how many videos I’ve made, maybe 3-400, so that’s an awful lot of books I’ve held up to the camera and talked about in that time.
Q: What are your favorite author resources online, from websites to tools?
A: I don’t really use them. I don’t do masses of research because I’m led by the words more than facts and my fiction is not one based on representing reality, but one that rather challenges our assumptions of what reality is. They are books about subjective perception rather than objective fact. I use Wikipedia, because I’m not after great amounts of detail. So for example, I have a story about Punch and Judy in the book and Wikipedia covered the history of it to a level that worked for me. I suppose the main resource I use is a dictionary and a thesaurus. I’m often fascinated by the origins of words and to see where some words have changed their meaning over time, sometimes to the point of meaning the opposite of what it started out meaning. I use language playfully in the novel, because language is one of the few remaining ways for adults to play.
Q: As a Booktuber, what are your favorite resources online for those who are interested in creating videos? (Both free and paid are welcome here.)
A: I’m very basic, I don’t even own a smartphone which I know a lot of Booktubers us to film. I have an old Kodak video camera and don’t use any extra lighting or external mics. I edit using the I-Movie app on my laptop. I basically top and tail my footage and cut out any overlong pauses, but I don’t do a lot of editing. I think viewers are interested in the books you’re talking about and maybe your personality, so I don’t think production values matter quite as much in certain other sections of YouTube.
Q: You also do book reviews, if asked for a reading suggestion which author or book is at the top of your list to suggest for someone looking for someone or something new to read that isn’t a mainstream release?
A: Oh gosh this is really hard. My favourite newish book this year so far has been a Chilean novel “Nervous System” by Lina Meruane, but I also really enjoyed Trent Dalton’s second novel “All Our Shimmering Skies” set in the Australian outback. For something a bit experimental, I though Rebecca Watson’s “Little Scratch” was a really interesting take on how we human beings actually think and this is done though the layout of the text on the page.
Q: What are you hoping to work on next?
A: I started writing a new novel shortly after lockdown stated and got to about 40,000 words before I got the contract for “Stories We Tell Our Children” so had to put the other one down. I’m really looking forward to getting back to that one and am aiming to have it finished by the New Year. It’s a spin on a detective novel and involves Easy Listening music!
Finally, if there is anything else you would love to share with our readers, please do so here!
I didn’t read at all as a kid. I was too busy playing sports. I coached their junior football team from the age of 7 to 15. We may not have won any championships, but one year we did win the Fair Play Awards for all teams in all age groups in the League. I also encouraged a girl to join the team and she has gone on to play at a professional level in the Women’s FA Cup. I am ridiculously more proud of those two achievements than anything in my writing career.