In preparation for our upcoming utopia-themed event This Side of Paradise, we sent the castle dogsbody Tom Moore off to interview one of the readers… who is also Tom Moore.
Yeah. So, are you like a clone or…?
I’m not sure. You ready to start?
Right! What do you do here at Illicit Ink?
Well, I’m kind of a general odd-job guy. I handle the Twitter and Facebook accounts, I write, perform and sometimes compère events, I hand out chocolates…Sometimes I do interviews for the…uh…the website…
This is weird.
Get over it. So you write and perform – what do you like about that?
Several things. I mean, it’s a great rush to perform – I’m a natural show off, just as long as I’m in front of a large enough crowd. But more than that, I find it a more personal and engaging experience than just reading something yourself (I know some people would disagree with me there). I’m always surprised at each gig how something is transformed from how it was on the page into something completely different when performed – it’s a wonderful thing to watch.
It’s also good for the writer too as you get a real feel for how an audience is reacting to a story. You can feel them concentrating during tense moments, laughing at funny moments, or you can hear when their attention wanders during the bits you should probably cut out. It’s a far more effective and telling form of feedback than most.
What do you think makes a great performance from an average performance?
There’s no one thing, but mainly it seems to be about engaging the audience. A lot of writers know how to interest someone on the page but struggle to craft things which are as gripping when read out. I don’t think you should ever perform a story that wasn’t specifically written (or at least, edited) for that purpose. Great writing is always great writing, but if you just read something out monotonally at a set speed, the audience aren’t getting anything out of it and there’s nothing for them to engage with.
Reading things out is actually a very different skill from just reading. In your head your mind creates the nuances of intonation, tone and pacing, but when reading it out, that’s all your job. So…yeah. That. It comes through practice, mostly.
What kind of writer would you say you are? What are your influences?
Well, depending on what mood I’m in I’d probably say I was a ‘significantly below par’ writer or if I was feeling generous an ‘ok’ writer. In terms of what I like to write, I enjoy writing and working primarily with visual or performance mediums, such as writing for comic books, radio, television and so on. When it comes to writing prose, I love it, but I never feel like it’s playing to my strengths, which is probably why I do most of my prose writing for performance.
I’m dyslexic and I’ve always wondered if that’s had an influence on the mediums I enjoy. I tend to veer towards things which combine words with other way of getting the message across, such as pictures or sounds. I read most of my books via audiobooks these days (which still totally counts! shut up), so even when it comes to novels, I’m used to having part of my reading done for me.
Authors who inspire me tend to be those with no respect for genre or medium divides. People like Neil Gaiman who doesn’t see writing comics or Doctor Who as less valid than writing novels, or Iain [sometimes M] Banks* who was not only a fantastic ‘literary’ writer, but was also an unashamed and brilliant genre fiction writer. That’s the sort of writer I’d like to be – someone who just writes what they enjoy and a little bit of everything.
*Whose influence is celebrated in This Side of Paradise.
Ok, final question. If you were trapped in a room with an exact duplicate of yourself –
Like I am now.
Exactly. So, if you were trapped in a room with an exact duplicate of yourself – like you are now – would you kill the duplicate or have sex with it?
I…I… what? I don’t want to answer that.
Tough. You have to pick one.
Um…Well, I kinda hate myself a bit, so I might want to kill the duplicate…
But, y’know, I’m also a bit of an egomaniac, so I’d probably want to have sex with it too.
Tricksy. So what would it be?
Well, probably have sex that made me feel really dirty afterwards?
That’s good enough!
Once he’s had a few more showers, you can see Tom performing at This Side of Paradise on July 7th.