Friday, 21 February 2020
Interview with an Author - Tom Ward
As something of an aside from my usual updates, I wanted to share with you all an interview I did with author Tom Ward, who is funding his own book, The Lion & The Unicorn, on Unbound - much as I am. Tom has written for publications that include Wired, GQ, Esquire, Men's Health and the Telegraph. He is the winner of the GQ Norman Mailer Award, the PPA New Consumer Magazine Journalist of the Year 2017, and has been shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize, and the Beryl Bainbridge Award, both 2014.
The Lion & The Unicorn is the story of a policeman who sets out to investigate a murder in a near-future where bad taste is illegal. Find out more here!
1. The world of The Lion & The Unicorn sounds like a Kafka-esque nightmare. How much control do you feel the state should have over our lives without us feeling oppressed?
I think it should be a partnership between the state and the people. There is a sense that we’re all having our hands held by an older relative who knows what’s best for us. I think this has resulted in unfortunate decisions like years of enforced austerity, which can very much make us feel oppressed. In turn I think this frustration has been re-directed by some into things like Brexit and nationalism.
2. The title of your book intrigues me just as much as the premise - why did you choose The Lion & The Unicorn?
I wanted to nod to Orwell’s ‘1984’ as the masterwork of dystopian fiction, so I borrowed part of the title of his essay ‘The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius’ in order to do this indirectly. My book is also about a dystopian Britain, and there’s a lion and the unicorn on our coat of arms, which is what Orwell is referring to.
3. If you could create or repeal one law what would it be and why?
I’d do something like a free, mandatory massage/meditation hour for everyone once a week. I think we’re all under so much pressure in our own lives and are constantly bombarded with stimuli from social media, the news, work, relationships etc that we could all benefit from re-centering a little bit.
4. Whose work has inspired you in writing this book?
So many people. Orwell, as I mentioned. Graham Greene is a big influence, and specifically The Ministry of Fear. Pat Barker’s writing is just brilliant, and evocative. Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men was a big influence. And other 80s dystopias like the animated Plague Dogs and Raymond Brigg’s When The Wind Blows. Blade Runner, of course. And I listened to a lot of Bowie while writing it, specifically the album Heroes, and the song The Man Who Sold The World.
5. I suspect you're not entirely happy with the political status quo here in the UK or over in the US. Can you point to any particular revolution in history and say, 'That's what we need to be copying now'.
Ha, no I can’t really. The Lion and The Unicorn takes place a few years after a British revolution and it hasn’t really changed anything, so I’m not sure that’s the way to go…
6. Bad taste is subjective, right? Coldplay, Love Island, Kim Kardashian, Simon Cowell's face - they all have legions of fans. What are some examples of your own bad taste?
Right. It’s hard to say as you never really think your own taste is bad, do you? I will say, though that Robbie Williams’ first four albums are unbeatable. And that’s a fact.