Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Ian Hutson
Hello everyone! This week I’d like to introduce you to Ian Hutson. I’ve seen him around the blogs before but didn’t know much about him or his writing. Can you believe he actually volunteered to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE?
We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask other authors questions and learn from them.
First, please meet my guest, Ian Hutson:
Born during tiffin in the seaside town of Cleethorpes, England, in the year nineteen-sixty. The shame and scandal forced the family to move immediately to Hong Kong. There spoke only Cantonese and some pidgin English and was a complete brat. At the end of the sixties was to be found on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Still a brat. Finally learned to read and write under the strict disciplinarian regime of the Nicolson Institute and one Miss Crichton. Then spent a year living in Banham zoo in Norfolk, swapping childhood imaginary friends for howler monkeys and gibbons. Literally in the zoo, to get home he had to go through the entry turnstiles, past the wolves, past the bears, and past the penguins. Didn’tbother with the local school for the entire year, and school was grateful.
Ian found himself working for the English Civil Service. He was asked to leave by the Home Secretary’s secretary’s secretary’s secretary’s assistant. A few years of corporate life earned some more kind invitations to leave. He ran a few unfortunate companies, then he went down the plug-hole with the global economy and found himself in court, bankrupt, with his home, car, and valuables auctioned off by H.M. Official Receivers.
Ian then lived for some years by candlelight in a hedgerow in rural Lincolnshire as a peacenik vegan hippie drop-out. Now lives on a canal boat, narrowboat Cardinal Wolsey, rushing up and down England’s canals and rivers at slightly over two miles per hour. Wrestles with badgers.
Dog person, not a cat person. Dogs and cats both know this.
Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. I’m really looking forward to our chat.
Hello, Ian. You are definitely an interesting fellow. So tell me, it is often rumored that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time. Does that remain true for you as well? How does that affect your writing?
We chaps aren’t really supposed, by society, to have hearts at all, but yes, yes indeed. Mine was perhaps not so much “broken” as it was given a fatal case of “Miss Havisham Syndrome”.
Imagine the still-beating organ surgically removed from my chest, placed on the white linen of an elaborate dining table under the guttering candelabra and allowed to gather dust and cobwebs while the world thundered on without me, outside.
Occasionally, bi-annually at least, the love of my life would enter the room just long enough to check the decay by poking my heart with a fork and then, satisfied that it was still beating, sweep out again. The love of my life would slam the heavy oak door, turn the big iron key in the lock and become merely fading, businesslike footsteps once more.
On the table among the stale crumbs, what used to be my heart would sigh wistfully like a beaten dog still devoted to its owner. Aside from that, my love-life has been all wine and roses.
New paragraph, with the opportunity for new metaphors – three, or more. Do writers benefit from having had their heart stolen, pickled in formaldehyde and shrunken to be used as a ceremonial totem by someone from a tribe of Amazonian sociopaths, someone more manipulative than a banana-republic politician, someone less constrained by ethics and morality than a fox in a hen house?
I think that they do, much in the way that Amazonian explorers who ended up in the pot, so to speak, benefitted from a whole new,viscerally-experienced sensation and became better explorers for it, albeit necessarily thus briefly. We writers live too often vicariously, it sharpens our skills, gives us colourful experience to draw upon, to be out hunting and hunted – and eaten alive – in the real world once in a while.
There is a certain cynicism, a voluntary disconnection from the human species in my writing. Is it bitterness? No! I actually wear a permanent grin, knowing that in terms of being an acceptable mate I have been there, done that, washed the white t-shirt along with a red sock and am hugely better equipped for the future in the matter of love, should have one.
If a writer can’t think of ways to find the humour in any situation then that writer needs a larger imagination! As an acceptable human being though, as a member of my species, well – I do wonder if I have a touch of the sociopath about my own character. It is perhaps best for all that I live mostly in my imagination and on the typewritten page.
I think many writers feel like that. Have you ever received help from other writers?
I have indeed. Just a few, a “Norfolk handful” – that’s six or so. Try as I might, I think, guiltily, that I receive far more help than I give. Writing is just one small portion of the formula, there’s marketing to consider and anything up to a dozen new plots and stories to flesh out at any one time. Throw in the occasional meal to ward off starvation and the average writer does not, I think, have enough hours in the day.
It is though more complicated and yet more simple too than that. Other writers are just about the only source of help and support a writer will find. Announce to the world that you are a teenager forming your first thrash-punk folk-jazz group and everyone will find something nice to say, and will probably offer to drive you and the band out deep into the countryside, far away from civilisation, so that you can practice. Dip a small but perfectly formed Highland terrier into buckets of paint and then roll it across second-hand canvasses and friends, neighbours, relatives, the R.S.P.C.A. and indeed the whole world will stand alongside you in your studio, muttering about post-modern canine minimalism and your sensitive use of the lesser-known shades of khaki. Announce that you have written a book, though, and your reward will be something that Messrs Simon & Garfunkel sang about at length – The Sound of [Awkward] Silence.
Friends, relatives, and legal representatives, when they forget themselves or, more accurately, when they forget you, will oft be seen waxing lyrical and waving overhead their £49.95 hardback copy of the latest pulp “Fifty Shades of Blurgh” or the popup-celebrity autobiographical “My Book Wot I Wrote, Yeah?”
It is the human trait of risk-aversion, I think, that hides the output of indie authors from the world. It results for authors in a sensation of – new metaphor alert –being a lone penguin on a small iceberg, drifting far out to sea. Friends, relatives and even the fellow inmates of your current institution would read your book, if only they weren’t worried sick that they’d hate it – and then have no idea how to face you or to react.
Friends, relatives and those ten-thousand close personal acquaintances on Twitter don’t know, and can’t be convinced, that ‘Read it, hated it for the following reasons’ is a reaction that would make most writers go weak at the keyboard with instant, full-blown, slightly creepy appreciation. It’s the silence that a writer really can’t take.
I couldn’t agree more. So, Ian, do you blog? And if so, how does blogging help you sell books?
I do blog. I live full-time on my narrowboat, mooching slowly around England’s system of canals so it would be difficult not to blog. Given that the next level of isolation after moving onto a canal boat would be to move to the International Space Station, blogging is also the best and often only method of keeping in touch with people, with any and all people.
An author’s profile is sometimes nothing more than a name and a tiny head-shot photograph next to the ISBN barcode on the back cover. Blogging allows me to at least document for all to see that, while I may not commute daily around the M25 or spend my weekends in B&Q picking out new Laura Ashley for the nursery in the south wing, I do still live a life wrestling badgers in the dead of night (I kid you not), sheltering from summer heat and winter storms, filling up the boat’s tank with water and emptying the “gazunders”. Once in a while, I get to cruise along in perfect conditions, ramrod stiff on the rear deck, imagining that I am Horatio Hornblower.
Blogging helps me sell books in much the same way that the pavement of the road outside a bookshop helps the shop sell books. Yikes, and gadzooks, another metaphor, will they never end?
That’s what all of the “social media” sites are, just ways to build more, and wider, and smoother and more welcoming pathways to the shops online where an author sells their books.
A nice tweet is a pretty hanging basket of flowers on a lamppost, a Facebook post is a dropped curb or an access ramp, and a good blog post is an inviting, comfortable wooden bench for someone to pause and to sit on, where they will hopefully notice and be intrigued by your books in the shop window deliberately placed exactly opposite.
Besides, blogging is fun. A blog is an imaginary friend for adults, someone to blame for doing silly things that you would otherwise feel silly about doing, someone to tell tall tales to at the end of the day. A blog is a friend who will always listen and remember.
I like your blogging vision, Ian. It was fabulous having you on the blog today.
Thanks, Colleen. I enjoyed our visit.
Universal purchase links:
NGLND XPX http://smarturl.it/nglndxpx
The Cat Wore Electric Goggles http://smarturl.it/TCWEG
The Dog With The Bakelite Nose http://smarturl.it/TDWTBNAmazon
Book Review for “Cheerio, and Thanks for the Apocalypse” http://smarturl.it/CATFTAAmazoneBook
I began my infatuation with Ian Hutson on the recommendation of a friend. I started following his narrowboat adventures on his blog, The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company. I became addicted to his style, his sharp wit never held in check and his tales of adventure. Needless to say, when I heard he had a new book coming out, I pre-ordered and actually stayed up until after midnight on the release date to make sure I didn’t miss a thing. Thinking I would just read a page or two to get the flavor of this tale, I ended up reading until daylight.
The book is raw humor, purely British, and so full of political satire that by 4:00 this morning I was wishing I could have a pint with Mr. Hutson in an English pub. The book is the definition of delightful. I smirked. I nodded. I chuckled. I laughed aloud. I am thankful for the years I lived in England. It gave me an understanding of true British humor. Any American wanting to enjoy an afternoon or evening in an English pub should read this book first. It will turn you on to the wonderfully understated and often overstated humor of a warm and welcoming people.
Anyone with a sense of humor can enjoy Hutson’s writings. Anyone who loves tasteful and not so tasteful sarcasm and occasional cynicism will fall in love with the author, just as I have. This book only reaffirmed everything I thought about Mr. Hutson from reading his narrowboat adventures told on his blog. He is a genius. Or, he is a madman. I am inclined to think he is a bit of both.
A most enjoyable read, filled with humor so well told that laughing aloud in a quiet room is okay, even if everyone turns to look. In fact, I rather think Mr. Hutson would enjoy that.SinDe on Amazon.com
How to contact Ian Hutson
Website/blog – https://dieselelectricelephant.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/dieselelephants
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ian.hutson.50
Amazon Author page – http://smarturl.it/IanHutson