The Wax Memory

Post image for The Wax Memory

by horrorsleazetrash on September 4, 2010

In HST’s first post, i catch up with a fellow Yorkshire man Chris Wade, and Partner in surrealist collaboration, Shawn Dimery for a chat about the newest press from Wisdom Twin Books, “The wax memory”

Chris, Shit man, its been a long time since we last caught up, seems like you have been keeping yourself relatively busy.  I think the last time we worked together was the first edition of Hound Dawg, is it still in circulation?

CHRIS:  Oh yeah, a new issue came out this week, issue 8. It’s all about the Edinburgh festival. I had a great time there with my girlfriend and we had some pretty weird adventures; there’s some pretty odd folk around there, you know, lots of people with bread chests and yoghurt necks and stuff. We saw Emo Phillips too which has been a lifelong dream of mine. It’s all in the magazine anyway. People can read it here for free:

It always gets a good response. I love doing it.

I’m glad to hear that, it’s always an interesting read.  You keep your fingers in a lot of pies, right; I mean, you have interviewed and met some really interesting people, the feature with Mc Dowel, The Kinks, Velvet Underground, Bill Thompson.  You must be one of the hardest working under ground heads in the business!

CHRIS:  Well I like to keep myself busy. I think the work is more important than making money, for me anyway, so I like to get a lot of things out there for free too, like the magazine Hound Dawg. So if someone has bought a book of mine or read some of my fiction, there’s a nice free magazine out there too for them to look at, which is a very varied magazine. I just interviewed Arthur Smith, the UK comedian, for issue 8 and it’s one of my favorite pieces in it so far. I also loved the Velvet Underground issue where I tracked down all the members I could find. That was great fun. I also am proud of the Hugh Cornwell and Victoria Coren interviews too. I have actually chatted with most people I really admire now so it is pretty fun stuff really. I like putting in the Surreal Section too when I get the chance. There are made up obituaries and stuff in there. I love making up weird names; like in one of the surreal sections there’s a guy called The Monk With No Fucking Mouth. I just love messing about with conventions and making myself, and hopefully others, laugh.

Laughter is the best policy.  And the newest port of call isn’t short of a laugh or two. “The Wax Memory” is your next venture, its something a little different right? Plus the addition, and partnering, with Shaun Dimery.  How did the two of you cats pair up?

CHRIS: Well, we met when we were seven or maybe even six at school and have shared many great experiences and grown up together. He’s a great fella and always makes me laugh no matter what. That’s always been our motto, to laugh at everything no matter how shit it can be.

SHAWN: We have always had a insane degree of a sense of humour. My own similar wicked style to Chris’s brought the works an extra dimension of surrealism and twisted morality.

The stories are basically insane tales of modern consciousness.   A really surreal collection. You say in the introduction that  “All characters in this collection are entirely fictional, although some have been totally and directly lifted from reality,” I think that’s always an important clarity to make.  Art imitating life, life imitating art – that kind of bullshit; there are always clear links from fact to fiction, right? Especially morally?

CHRIS:  Well that comment in the introduction was a kind of gag as well, a contradiction, like we based all these weirdo fuckwits on real people which is pretty impossible when you read the tales. I mean, parts of some characters are based on some people I have met or seen stumbling about the streets, but in the most part The Wax Memory is surreal fantasy. I think it’s a real exercise in challenging the rules of storytelling and putting two fingers up to modern literature, which for me is mostly boring, predictable stuff. I find very little original stuff out there now.  I sound like a bit of a pretentious tosser here, but my aim in fiction is to do something different, but the different aspect often comes naturally. I have a surreal mind I think so it kind of comes out into the writing. I was brought up on surreal comedy like Python, Reeves and Mortimer and all Rik Mayall’s work, and that humour has gone into my personality and ultimately my writing. Like I said recently, I always put in stuff other people wouldn’t imagine putting in, not censoring myself which can lead to weird results. Writing with my good friend Shawn was a great experience though and we had the biggest laugh writing this collection. We will definitely do more together I am sure.

SHAWN: What I really liked about Blandness of Strangers is the underlying seediness and secret desires that people posses that you aren’t aware of.  Like Daddy Treacle, the desire to be successful, be a legend, to have a legacy, yet against your better judgment. They knew the risks yet went for the mumbling recordings anyway. I really think the line between fact and fiction is paper thin and a lot of these stories actually work as surreal and humorous analogies.

I think the separation, not just in the abstract nature of the stories, but the separation between people and their actions are an undeniable undercurrent through the collection.  Would you agree? Personally I think that its man kinds greatest problem. Delusion and the inability to take responsibility for their own actions and words.  Or being too stupid to know the difference.

CHRIS: Yes there’s a lot of consequences to the carelessness of the characters in The Wax Memory. Like Shawn said in Daddy Treacle, they need a recipe for the yoghurt that is dangerous to get and may result in death, but they go anyway, regardless of the bad things which will happen. In story one, The Nanna Home tells of two mentally disturbed brothers let out of a mental home and they talk of the bad things the other one has done, but each blames it on, quote, ‘their bastard.’ At first it sounds as if they have a pet bastard tied up in the shed or something but it is in fact their evil side coming out, as they call it ‘their bastard.’ Once again the guys aren’t taking responsibility for their actions. So yeah all this is a common theme in the book. The people in this collection are mostly lost, in denial or just plain fucked up. I don’t want to take the attention off the fact this book is not only thought provoking but it’s also meant to make you laugh as well, if you can stomach the surreal elements that is.

SHAWN: Not taking responsibility for your own actions is rife through humankind and is encouraged so. We would all happily screw over the charitable man next door to get at his delectable wife. Deep secret thoughts are harbored in many of us, Let’s throw off the covers and expose humankind for the perverse/tainted race we are.

There is a different kind of writing in here, something I’m not used to from you and the Hound Dawg days. You usually focus more on facts, reporting, reviewing.  The stories here are lucid and often indistinguishable, lines like “You should meet my Bastard, he would get on well with you and do kind things for you, like buy you a prezzy, ride a sex wave with you, smoke the poor girl and her mantled shins and then buy you an ice cream while acting like a swine on the peer with you.” While lyrical still embody some elements of reality.  Was this the parallel you guys wanted to make? How far can you take it before you lose context?

CHRIS: Well I do write my fiction like this. In Hound Dawg I am a straight reporter and interviewer. I mean if I’m interviewing someone like Victoria Coren, I can’t just go up to her and ask her if she likes the way moth boy flutters brownly, or if she ever gets a bread chest when she eats chip butties or tell her I want to align all da checkers and confirm all the fishy order voids. I have to be a proper interviewer otherwise she’d put the phone down and get a restraining order against me. HAHA. My other novel “Cutey and the Sofaguard” was my first exercise in plot driven surreal humour with the odd element of free form Dadaism. The line you mentioned from The Wax Memory is clearly the ramblings of the insane brother, promising the world from his bastard. When you ask how far can we go without going out of context, well insane characters like the two chaps in The Nanna Home invite this kind of wild surrealism, but the line also makes sense. He is protecting himself there, or more to the point protecting his bastard, denying he is evil and that he is capable of doing all these nice things. But that is also my idea of a laugh too, I mean I think that is a really funny, insane and far out line really and it makes me satisfied to create sentences which actually have never been written before. I mean, has anyone ever said that someone could smoke the poor girl and her mantled shins? I don’t think they have. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, because it does challenge conventional literature. I think that may say something about how my mind works more than anything else. I don’t judge my work too much against other people’s. I don’t see the point in heavy influences, as they sneak in and interfere with your own imagination. I love the imagination; my imagination gives me a lot of satisfaction.

SHAWN: Pushing the boundary of what we can write before it becoming obscene was one of the things that we truly enjoyed while writing, Screwing the form of conventional literature, forcing the reader to see past petty comparisons and descriptions of a bland nature.

I noticed that “gambling for Daddies treacle” and a couple of other shorts have by lines by the both of you, explain that process. I know when I read Burroughs and Kerouac’s  “And the hippos were boiled in their tanks” I could distinguish very clearly the authors’ style. Not to mention the journal type pseudonyms. Was it difficult to gel, style wise, or did you guys just mix and mash?

CHRIS: Well Shawn and me have known each other for most our lives and our minds, in some ways are very similar, so it was quite easy to make it gel in that way. I would generally type and we both would, together, come up with the plot, the gags and the way the story panned out.  It was really easy and really fun as well, because when you’re writing on your own it can get lonely. Sometimes you read what you have written out loud to make sure it sounds good. Writing with Shawn was so much fun because we came up with ideas together. Shawn might make a line then I would improve on it and then sometimes the other way round. It kind of snow balled like that. Then when we wrote something that we thought was funny, we would piss our self laughing. We’d also have a few drinks while we wrote too, so it was so much fun. But we both wanted the same results, to challenge writing, so in the end it was a really easy and enjoyable process.

SHAWN: It’s impossible for me and Chris not to gel, our sense of humour is frighteningly similar, our senses of humour evolved together growing up, molded together in a strange, twisted way. My sadistic thoughts and literary trauma fused with Chris’s beautiful way of words and unique style.

A lot of the plot lines are somewhat ridiculous. Yoguhurt and the what not, but there is a deep essence of prose around a lot of the characters and their progressions. The relations that they share with objects and people. Usually a father or family figure of some sort. Would I be right in saying that family has played an important part on the books subject matter? Or are you guys again just taking the truth for a walk and pissing in the wind?

SHAWN: Family has never played any part of my life, a loving family to me is asinine. That helps me greatly to distract from the usual expectations of what a family member should be. I’m my writing and imagination, nothing is out of bounds, off limits, or unheard of.

CHRIS: Family does play a big part in the collection. It says in the introduction that brothers and uncles are frequent through ut. To me, family is the most important thing because these people stick with you no matter what. I love my family and think the best way to make an emotional statement in a story is through a family member. In Daddy Treacle, the plot is ridiculous but there is a kind of sad truth in it as well, the way the boy idolizes his dad and wants to be like him, but in the end it is all so doomed.  There’s one called Uncle Gangster, which tells of a boy’s three favourite uncles. So family plays a big part in The Wax Memory, yes. But we were also having a laugh too and writing straight from our minds without censoring ourselves, which to me is important. Get it down on the page and leave the bitys in other people would cut out. People should laugh more than anything when they read it. It was meant to be funny.

Whats next for you dudes? More joint ventures?

SHAWN: The fact that me and Chris had the time of our lives writing this means we will definitely be collaborating again very soon, we have many ideas in the pipeline, A lot of ideas coming to the table from our own personal and unique experiences we lived growing up.

CHRIS: Me and Shawn will do a volume 2 of The Wax memory for sure, with some possible guest appearances too. On  my own I’m releasing, via Wisdom Twins Books, an audio version of my book “Cutey and the Sofaguard” but thankfully I won’t be reading it in my one note, dull, tedious Yorkshire mumbles. It’ll be read by someone very, very cool. I can’t wait for that one to hit the shelves. But yeah I want to do some more stuff with Shawn as well and we will be doing that really soon.

As always, a bloody pleasure.  Check out and grab a copy of “The Wax Memory” on Wisdom Twins Books here

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