We spoke to the man behind White Dolemite about his upcoming novel A Honky's Journey Through Chaos...
What inspired you to want to write a book?
The tagline for the book is “Everything you know about India is true… Everything you know about India is just the tip of the iceberg”. I blindly wandered into India carrying nothing but a pocket full of thoughts as to what I might be getting myself into. And then… India happened. I think it’s safe to say that I’m still coming to terms with everything, even after a year. If I am sounding a touch negative here, the polar opposite is actually true. I had absolutely no idea at the time, but to say that the trip has drastically altered the course of my life is somewhat of an understatement. And I thought the experience was well worth writing about.
How much of the stuff in here is true? All of it?
Oh yes, all of it. The trip felt like a continuous case of ‘You just couldn’t make this shizzle up’. Every minute of every day was a revelation in one way or another, be it for good, bad or the truly bizarre. I felt that to do justice to the splendour that is India, complete honesty was essential. So, the good, the bad and bizarre are treated equally and completely honestly. I do fear that folk may look down upon the book with an erroneous eye of disbelief. Should this be the case, I can only suggest… visit India. You’ll see.
Is it fair to say you’re not the easiest of travellers?
I think it’s fair to say that there’s an element of truth in that. But for a specific reason. Completely immersing myself in another culture so very far removed from my own is an absolute pleasure and an utter privilege. I thoroughly relish an opportunity to throw myself in at the deep end, to see if I’ve got what it takes to swim to relative safety. India challenged me in that sense, on a minute by minute basis. My big problem though? The actual travelling itself. Flying. This is a challenge I fear I may never overcome. Hypnotherapy, drugs, booze. I’ve tried the lot. As far as I’m concerned, the concept of air travel was violently spewed forth from the rectum of Beelzebub himself.
How does Nottingham compare to your travels in India?
It doesn’t. It can’t. I mean to say, obviously there are people and buildings and roads and traffic and whatnot. But there endeth all comparisons. I think, for me, the true beauty of India lies in the fact that your preconceived notions truly do exist. Within moments of landing at what – due to the various flying therapies I’d sampled on the flight – I worryingly believed to be the wrong airport, every single notion I held to be true had fallen by the wayside. And then the beautiful chaos truly began.
Are there any authors you’ve taken inspiration from?
I have to say no, in short. I’m not entirely sure that researching the work of other authors would have helped to further my own writing in this particular case. The reason being, India is going to present itself to you in a billion different startling ways. My travelling experiences are my own, as yours would be. An Ibiza Summer Package Tour… India is not. I hope the book will present the reader with a taste of the flavours of India. I have to say though, it’s a bloody big country and there are a hell of a lot of ‘flavours’ out there. I sampled but a few. I’m going back for more.
What other cultural references have you bought into this book besides literature?
Shock. Culture shock. Now, if that’s your ‘tang’, I’d suggest India is calling you. I simply was not in any way shape or form, at all prepared for the whopping great big cultural slap in the face. Please, don’t get me wrong though. That ‘slap’ is magical, stunning, overwhelming, and completely addictive. With regards to the novel itself, I’d gotten square into the second chapter before my natural writing ‘style’ found itself. The resulting stories see the magnificence of an Indian adventure, thoroughly mixed through with a whooping great big dollop of popular culture and a hefty slab of a film referencing. Some straight in your face, other deceitfully hidden away for the true movie geeks to weedle out.
You’ve got 140 characters (ie a Tweet) to sum this book up to a total stranger. Go…
The bumbling adventures of a culture-shocked honky through the madness that is India. Shockingly ending in a way no one could have foreseen.
Anything else you want to say?
I am finding myself rather quite desperate to expand a touch on that ‘shockingly ending in a way no one could have foreseen’ comment. For me personally, this is truly what the book is actually about. India has permanently changed my life. I’m no longer that ‘Video Mat’ of old. I will now be indebted to India for the rest of my days. I’m afraid to say though, you’re going to have to turn the very last page of the book to find out why. I’m actually writing this on the day that I’ve returned from my second Indian trip. Not exactly a holiday as such this time. But, I think it’s quite safe to say, book No. 2 has written itself, and this time… well, on a scale of one to bonkers, let’s just say, things got a little bit ‘Spinal Tap’
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