An Interview with: Will Conway

Written by Lazy Gramophone on Saturday the 8th of May 2010
Will Conway has been a part of Lazy Gramophone for a number of years now. He was a contributor to The Book of Apertures and has performed at many of our live events. We are currently working on his first solo publication, a book of short stories entitled, Will Conway, Tastes of Ink. This coming Sunday (9th May) he will be performing at our newest live event, the Lazy Sunday.

Lazy Gramophone (LG): Okay, so let us start with a few simple questions that will help give our readers an idea of your most recent cultural experiences:

What are you reading at the moment?

Will Conway (WC): I have this mental problem which means I can't read one book at once in case I get completely consumed by it so I always have a few on the go.
Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole [cheers Sam!]
Satsuma Sun-mover - Adam Green (published by Lazy Gramophone Press)
And the Ass saw the Angel - Nick Cave
Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon
I love books when the protagonist is a bit of a dick. Not that they're the only type I read of course. I was reading The Mind in the Cave - David Lewis Williams but I think I've left it somewhere - always nice to have some non-fiction on the go. It's all about the development of the human mind from that of a basic hominid to one who can conceive the idea of representation. If I've made it sound really boring, sorry, it isn't.

LG: What was the last film you saw?

WC: Cinema: Kick-Ass with my mum. She loved it but lost interest when I tried to tell her about all the comics I had as a teenager by John Romita JR.
DVD: The Wild Bunch - Warren Oates is amazing in everything I've seen him in.

LG: What was the last piece of music you listened to?

WC: Juggaknots - Clear Blue Skies - awesome, underground Hip Hop from 2006. Breezly Brewin is so slept on he probably thinks he's a bed.

LG: What was the last art exhibition you visited?

WC: Can't remember to be honest. I found myself staring up at the London sky with no planes and wondered if that was some sort of art installation. Then a bus wing mirror nearly bludgeoned me. You have to suffer for art. Oh hang on, just thought of one: Emma Gibson's work at the John Hour in Dalston - check her out fo' sho'.

LG: And, just for the record, can you give us an idea of some of your all time favourite books?

WC:  I'm sure I'll think of loads as soon as I finish this but here are a couple for now:
Not Now Bernard - David McKee
Breaking of the Seals - Francis Ashton
Cannery Row - Steinbeck
Flatlands - Edwin Abbott
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance - R Persig
Anything by Ray Bradbury, Jorge Luis Borges or Will Self

LG: Excellent, cheers Will. It seems to me you've been a part of things for as long as I can remember and yet I can't recall exactly when or how that came to be... Therefore, I was thinking that next up, for all the folks out there who might be wondering how they should go about getting involved with Lazy Gramophone, could you explain how it was that you somehow found yourself getting mixed up with us?

WC: Well...
I had recently moved into my old flat in Dalston and some pretty girls were moving out (these two events were unrelated). I asked if they needed any help. Feminists as they were, they politely declined my assistance but I got chatting with one of them and it transpired that we were both writers, although this was the first time I had admitted it to anyone. She asked if I had ever performed my poetry. I pretended I had (simultaneously pretending I actually had some poems). She asked if I wanted to fill in a slot at an upcoming event. I bluffed and said it wouldn't be a problem.
I got a note through the post box the next day and we went for a drink and I was jovially bullied into filling the illustrious Adam Green's spot on the bill of the impending 'Lazy Gramophone Presents...'. The girl turned out to be Gypsy Girl who turned out to be Jo Tedds who turned out to be my best friend.
We are currently housemates and I ended up doing all her moving for her anyway. Funny how things turn out.
Lazy Gramophone's twelve step program changed my life. All aboard.

LG: And subsequently, which Lazy Gramophone events or projects have you been involved with?

WC: I have the first story in The Book of Apertures and I have also appeared at a couple of 'Lazy Gramophone Presents...' events. They are always a wicked night but there's one that stands out in my memory. I'm usually prepared for a sea of confused expressions when I 'perform' but I remember standing up there one night with my big dumb face covered in cuts and bruises. Nobody seemed to know what to make of it especially as there was someone doing face-painting that night. I'm probably the only one that found that funny actually.
Oh yeah and I am putting the finishing touches on my first solo writing endeavour to be published. Tastes of Ink should be a fun little collection of short stories that will at best, shake the reader to the very core and at worst, make them chuckle a bit. Watch this space.

LG: Lazy Gramophone places a strong emphasis on collaboration. Which other Lazy Gramophone artist's work do you particularly admire and why?
WC: I can't really sing enough praise about Jo (Tedds). Her work is rich, lyrical and funny in all the wrong places but I'll let you guys discover her for yourselves. In fact I'll stop talking about other writers because they're better than me and I'll focus on our illustrious illustrators. Tom the Pen is fricking awesome - great attention to detail and a very funny chap. Andrew Walter has some brilliant stuff which I imagine to be like Dr Suess on a graffiti mission.

LG: On a similar note, outside of Lazy Gramophone, which other artist (writer/musician/illustrator/performer) has most influenced your own work?
WC: There are so many people who I admire for some reason or other and it's hard to call them all to mind at the same time because they're dependant on my mood or surroundings but here are a few: Dali, Hitchcock, Truffaut, MF DOOM, John Lennon, Ted Hughes, Elliott Smith, Paul Shier, Stephen Fry, Lord Lucan, Posdnuos, Bill Hicks, Jacques Lacan, Philippe Petit. All of these people were/are quite uncompromising, doing things their way, be it painting, skateboarding, writing, film-making, but above all they had/have their own inimitable style.

Bill Bixby also does some
great watercolours apparently...

LG: And do you have a favourite piece of your own work? If so, what is it and why?

WC: I change my mind so often it's hard to say really. I always love the stories and poems I've forgotten about or the ones I've just thought of. I'm currently writing something about dinosaurs, which is going to be big. I'm pretty excited about that because it means I can call what I would be doing if I was eight years old 'research' now.

LG: So how would you actually describe your writing? Imagine you were speaking to someone who had never read a single word of yours before...

WC: Sometimes I can write some really lovely things but a lot of the time reading me is a little like being kicked in the nose while you're eating a sandwich.

LG: Good answer. Okay, right, going to dig a little deeper now if that's cool. Can you tell us... why do you write?

WC: It's a kind of therapy really; an attempt to appease the madness that I'm sure will otherwise consume me without so much as a backwards glance. Writing is like a little pressure valve so all this stuff in my head doesn't spill out and melt something.
Partly ranting, partly a version of the 'What if...?' game, I guess I do it to save everyone around me from the sorts of conversations that begin with 'Why doesn't this ever happen...?' or 'Imagine if...'
Maybe that's all rubbish and the only reason I write is because I'm obsessed with the creative power of calling all these characters and scenarios into being. Put like that, I'm basically a kind of closet megalomaniac.

LG: And what inspires you to write?

WC: I'm inspired when I see real craft at play from another artist. I also get a lot of ideas from seeing really shoddy writing; I say to Will 'We could do better than that' and so we do. I like to go away from a film or book or picture feeling ill at ease. I find myself resenting artists who try to placate their viewers or audience. Good art should feel like a firm poke in the ribcage like, 'Oi, think about this, eh.'

Every so often (ok maybe lots of 'so oftens') I am handed a fully formed idea from a dream (or daydream) that I almost feel guilty about passing off as my own.

LG: Can you reveal a little about your own personal writing process?

WC: I think a lot of writers get this feeling where they're doing it wrong, whatever that means, and I'm victim to that sometimes but, truth be told, my writing process is pretty boring. I get an idea - it runs around the head for a while until it gets tired or I trip it up. I sit down wherever I can and write it on whatever stationery I can find. I write it up on the computer and go back to it to check it makes sense.

LG: Our own lives and experiences often affect our work, but in what way does the act of writing affect your own life?

WC: I still feel like I'm showing off a bit when people ask what I do and I say 'I'm a writer' (more so before I was published), but when someone asks what I do I guess they'd rather know about that than my day job.

LG: Great. So last few questions:

What are you working on at the moment?

WC: I have so many nearly finished things or half formed ideas on scraps or saved as notes on my phone or computer and I sometimes just have to go through them just to remember and get excited enough to continue with one of them.
I'm putting together a collection of poetry that I want people to have on their coffee tables or by their toilets and have a good chuckle over. Hopefully people who didn't realise that they liked poetry will say to themselves 'gee whiz, I guess I like poetry after all.'

LG: Where is it that you do most of your current writing?

WC: Don't tell anyone but I write at work quite a lot. If I get a bee in my bonnet I have to get it out then and there. I wrote a whole story on the bus home once. I write in bars, on park benches, on trains, on sofas, I'd love to have SCUBA and a special pen and write underwater one day but that's probably just silly.

LG: Describe your perfect imaginary writing room...

WC: I'm not very good at doing what I'm supposed to be doing so I think the danger with having the perfect writing environment would be that I wouldn't actually do any writing. I'd probably get distracted by the harem girls or rocket launchers. I guess I'd need a quiet room with nothing but a pad and a pen and the thought that I'm not supposed to be there. Prison maybe.

LG: And to sign off, what are your plans for the future?

WC: Put together my other two collections of short stories, my poetry book and my novel about time. Stay out of prison.

LG: Brilliant, thanks Will. Good luck with your new book and we look forward to hearing you read on Sunday.

To read more of Will's work, his profile is currently on display in the 'artists' section of our website.

Tags for this post: Lazy Sunday, Lazy Gramophone, interview, Tastes of Ink, Will Conway.

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Title: Will Conway Tastes of Ink
By: LazyGramophone
Lazy Says: Animation by Kristian Andrews, Music by Tom Conway
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