Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Lowdown with... Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Paul StJohn Mackintosh is a British poet, weird/dark fiction writer, and journalist/media pro. Born in 1961, he was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, has lived and worked in Asia and Central Europe, and currently is based in Hungary. He has published two collections of poetry, as well as several co-translations from Japanese, done with his ex-wife Maki Sugiyama. His first collection of dark/weird/transgressive fiction, Black Propaganda, appeared from H. Harksen Productions in May 2016. Paul is Associate Editor of the US books, publishing and literary site, and has been rated #1 of "The 12 Publishing Shakers You Should Be Following" by The Independent Publishing Magazine. He has produced award-winning short films with his ex-wife, the Hungarian filmmaker Lilla Bán.

1. Tell us three things about yourself. 

I'm an active member of the BDSM community, an advocate for sexual rights, a sometime member of Torture Garden, and an occasional contributor to Skin Two. All of that feeds into my writing. I find dark fantastic erotic fiction to be one of the best ways of probing the existential dilemmas of human agency and identity that fascinate me most.

I'm an inveterate clubber and dance music fan - especially house music, techno and d&b. I go clubbing on average at least two nights a week.

I'm a Scottish nationalist. I grew up in Edinburgh and Dundee, and cleave closest to the Scottish side of my heritage. Out of respect for the feisty underdog; out of disgust at the gimcrack, failing "British constitution" and querulous, murderous modern English nationalism; out of love for a wholly distinct culture and tradition in Britain; out of love for the Scottish landscape; and simply out of hope for change for the better. I'm also official clan poet of Clan Mackintosh. That said, I love living in other countries and cultures, and can't recommend the experience enough.

2. What was the first thing you had published? 
The first thing I had published that I really took pride in was a poem, "An Expressionist Passion," inspired by Die Weiße Rose, the German pacifist anti-Nazi student resistance group. That basically kicked me off as a serious writer.

3. Which piece of writing are you proudest of? 
The semi-autobiographical story "The Princess and the Dragon," based on my experiences in Singapore, in my new collection, Black Propaganda. It's the oldest story in the book, and the one I thought most about revising, and revised least. Even though it has plenty of faults, it also has all the raw passion I could ever wish for.

4. …and which makes you cringe? 
There's a 200-page first novel I wrote in my early twenties stashed in a ring binder back at my parents' place. I'm terrified that some day someone is going to disinter it and actually read it.

5. What’s a normal writing day like? 

I tend to write in spurts rather than to a regular disciplined timetable, but when I do get a rush on, I closet myself and buckle down for several hours. Otherwise, I try to get up to an hour in the early morning, to put things down while my mind is freshest. I also tend to do a lot of writing in cafes - using handwriting recognition on a tablet. I find it helps keep things spontaneous, enables me to incorporate research straight off the internet into what I'm writing, and tempers the aching solitude of the writing life.

6. Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first? 
I'd be tempted to say "The Princess and the Dragon," except that in some ways it's not representative. Maybe they should start with "Coma Berenice," also in Black Propaganda - a weird tale of bizarre paraphilia, obsessive love, and emotional vampirism.

7. What are you working on now? 
I've got any number of short stories on the chocks at any one time, as well as full-length works either under way or awaiting revision. I'm working on an apocalyptic cli-fi novel about environmental stress driving humanity into an epigenetic phase shift, as well as some occult historical tales and war stories.

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