Hi All! I don’t know about you but I am excited! Every once in a while a persona so intriguing comes along that the knowing they even exist makes you happy… I have been feeling like someone gave me an energy injection since I discovered Rupert Dreyfus, the rebel, the author… People, authors, like Rupert only appear every once in a while on my radar- they stand out and all for their own, unique reasons.
Grab a strong drink, and follow me… for we are about to find out more about Rupert!
Many thanks for taking time for the interview. Having read two of your books: The Rebel’s Sketchbook and Prezident Scumbag! I guess the best place to start with, and the most pressing question I have in my mind would be this:
How much of your true self (feelings and viewpoints) go into your satirical, transgressive fictional works? Sometimes, authors write books by exploring their hidden depths and imagination which they don’t tend to live by, or maybe even believe in, in real life, but the genre you write in and the passion with which you write makes me feel like you pour your heart and soul out? Would this be a valid statement?
Great opening question, Liis. I can honestly say that the anti-establishment sentiments in my stories are reflective of the real me. I’m a natural rebel and feel the constant need to mouth off. I also have a love affair with sardonic humour; it helps me to navigate this chaotic wasteland we call home.
One fundamental difference is that a lot of my narrators tend to be angry beyond words and behind this laptop screen I’m actually quite a shy, peaceful person. I suppose these narrators are just vehicles for getting something said about these times we’re living in.
Do I pour my heart and soul out? I think creativity demands this of us otherwise we might as well be writing the literary equivalent of a Big Mac meal.
You have obviously put a lot of thought into the whole societal system (hereon The System) of our planet and the way things work. I am assuming there’s a ton of personal experience to back you up as well, but have you ever thought about the solution? In your mind, do you have an idea that could change the world?
I reckon the perfect solution to these violent times is reorganizing our species along anarchistic lines. In a very basic sense this means bottom-up participation in matters which affect our communities rather than the top-down atomisation of a dislocated society we currently have. Do I realistically know how to bring about this woolly idea in such a vast and complex Universe? Nope. All I know is that change is something we each have to take responsibility for in our own corner of the world. We can either accept that this is all there is and get in line for the man or we can make life difficult for them.
Do I have an idea that could change the world? I’ve always thought that if we slipped entheogens into the water supply of our leaders and businesspeople then peace, love and unity would happen overnight…
So, let’s actually go back to your experience and knowledge of The System which enables you to wrap it in satire, black comedy and sits firmly in the transgressive territory. Can you tell us about the turning point? What was the catalyst for you to stop being a part of the sleeping masses influenced by the government? I mean, was there a singular event that just stopped you in your tracks and made you take that 180 degree turn or was it something that built up gradually, over time?
It’s been a gradual process. As it goes I don’t come from a politically active household. My parents are staunch Labour supporters and this set the tone for knowing the difference between left and right. But I really began to develop a social conscience in my mid to late teens; partly down to discovering old punk bands such as Crass and the Dead Kennedys. They seemed to be talking about things which resonated with my core and in a way that made perfect sense.
I’m also from the first generation of internet users, back in the dark days of dial up and way before life online became so hemogenised. This allowed me to explore alternative narratives on obscure websites. I soon discovered that outside of the fairly narrow framework of mainstream politics, there’s a vast spectrum of political philosophies.
Around this time I also met one of my closest friends and probably the most switched-on fella I know. He opened me up to a whole new world of thinkers which blew my mind; Chomsky, Zinn, Sagan, Bakunin, Goldman, Kropotkin… by the time I reached the age of twenty I was firmly committed to anarchism. Nothing else has ever made any sense to me.
What’s interesting, though, is that those early days of listening to old punk bands has been one of the biggest influences on my storytelling some twenty years later. It’s helped to develop a style that allows me to hop from one cause to another; just like the punk bands of yesteryear did. One minute I’m ridiculing talentless boybands, the next I’m telling the new president of America he’s a scumbag.
Your books and stories are a form of rebellion. Did that medium, publishing your frustration by way of fiction, come as the first and natural selection? Did you consider and try any other means and channels you tried before becoming an author?
I’ve explored different creative outlets over the years. As a kid I was great with a pencil, but college beat it all out of me. Then in my early twenties I chucked stencils up on walls but lacked the resources to excel in it. I tried music but quickly figured out that I make a better listener. However, there’s something about writing stories which suits me down to the ground.
Let’s talk about your books now… Would you like to give an overview of what you have written so far and what your potential readers can expect?
Sure thing. It all begins with Spark; my debut novel. Among other things it’s about an idiot computer hacker who shows us how incredibly easy it is to spark a revolution from the comfort of your own bedroom. My second release is a collection of thirteen short stories called The Rebel’s Sketchbook. It’s one long swipe at the political and cultural bile of the day. My latest release is a novella called Prezident Scumbag! It’s about a band of crust punk squatters travelling to America to put on a protest show, and then getting caught up in a war with a white supremacist biker gang.
I describe all of these stories as transgressive black comedies with an attitude problem.
What has the general feedback been from your readers to date? Has the positive feedback fuelled you for any future projects? Likewise, has the negative feedback, if there’s been any, made you more inspired?
The feedback from readers has been wholly positive. I’ve also been fortunate enough to obtain a handful of glowing reviews from professional journalists working for some influential publications which I’m truly thankful for.
As for negative feedback: there’s been the occasional grumble and that’s to be expected. I’m aware that my stories aren’t for everyone and if the sentiments don’t upset certain people then the style probably will (sometimes I’d like to know which it is!). But for those people who appreciate both the sentiments and the style, they seem to get a lot out of what I’m doing.
Since your works sit firmly in their genre, tell us how you personally deal with scenes or characteristics in your novels that, taking into consideration the Speshul Snowflake Movement we have going on currently, could be perceived as enough offense to start a Twitter war? Do you hesitate when you write about the reality of the darkest, truest form of humanity or is there simply nothing holding you back, because tough sh#t, truth hurts?!
I don’t mind offending people so long as it’s for the right reasons. Every generation has its outrage brigade and, given the type of subject matter I explore, I expect some backlash from time to time. But I try to choose my targets carefully and steer clear of attacking things which I feel aren’t going to resonate with kindred spirits. Over time I’ve learned to trust my judgment.
What is the future like for Rupert Dreyfus, the author? Is writing satiric, transgressive fiction firmly in the cards or do you feel like it’s time to take another genre on?
I’m committed to writing transgressive black comedies until we’re living in anarchy and peace. I occasionally get the itch to write something a little different; like a nightmarish neo-noir. However, it isn’t going to happen any time soon because unfortunately things are getting worse by the year. When I started putting stories out at the tail end of 2014 I only had to take swipes at the Tories and annoying YouTubers, but now we have a whole new beast to wrestle with.
Before we draw this Q&A to a close, is there a message you would like to pass on to the readers here at Cover to Cover?
Thanks for the support and, whoever you are and wherever you be, continue to be thoroughly and utterly disobedient.
Rupert Dreyfus is a grassroots author who lives and works in the far north of England. He’s been causing mischief in the literary world since 2014 by taking swipes at the establishment, those nightmarish corporations which seem hell-bent on turning our world into one giant supermarket and the arse end of the status quo. Rupert also writes for the arts and culture section of Scisco Media as well as the occasional polemic for Consented.
Spark is his first novel which serves as a snapshot of modern day Britain through the eyes of a disaffected computer hacker. Rebellious and brave; all those who are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired will find a hero in the narrator, Jake Miller, who shows us how incredibly easy it is to spark a revolution. You just have to be angry enough.
Rupert is also the author of The Rebel’s Sketchbook; a collection of 13 short stories which blend transgressive fiction, black comedy and satire. Targets include maniac world leaders, talentless boybands, Westminster politicians, social media idiots and much more. It’s set to become one of the most controversial releases in a generation. The Morning Star named it one of their books of 2015.
For more information about Rupert you can visit his website www.rupertdreyfus.co.uk