Please welcome Simon Logan to the blog! Simon’s new book, GET KATJA, the sequel to KATJA FROM THE PUNK BAND, just came out, and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. Also, we’ve got 2 ebook copies to give away, so be sure to check out the details at the end of the post!
The brand new book in your Katja series, Get Katja, is out this month! Will you tell us a little about it?
Get Katja is a direct sequel to Katja From The Punk Band and is set a few months later. Katja is on the mainland but has been in hiding since making it there however she finally decides she will hide no longer – only it turns out that emerging from the shadows wasn’t such a great idea after all. Whereas in the first book all the characters are after a chemical vial, this time they’re all after Katja herself. Soon enough she’s being chased by transvestite debt collectors, psychotic surgeons and fetish nurses, a corrupt detective and more.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I think I was fairly late to writing, certainly later than a lot of writers. I never did that thing of making little books for my parents or friends which many seem to do and I wasn’t even that big a reader until I was in my late teens but when I did get into it, it consumed me fairly quickly. I have a pretty insatiable desire for input and pretty much from the moment I get up to the moment I go to sleep I’m either listening to podcasts or audiobooks, reading, watching movies or documentaries, just anything to draw in as many ingredients for potential stories as I can. I’m a pretty solitary person and prefer my own company to that of others so it seems like a good hobby to take up as you never really need to interact with people – as opposed to being a filmmaker or in a band.
How do you think Katja has changed the most since Katja and the Punk Band? Why do you think readers will root for her?
With only a few months between the two books she’s not had that much time to change but when we meet her in Get Katja she’s reached a point where she is just fed up hiding. She knows there is a risk of showing her face but she’s decided that she’s just going to face up to whatever – and whoever – might be out there and start doing the only thing that gives her any meaning in her life, playing in a band. It turns out to perhaps not be the best idea she ever had. As for rooting for her, everything she did in the first book, and everything she does in this one, is just about surviving a pretty brutal world. All she wants is to be able to play music and the world keeps getting in the way so I wonder if, to an extent, people will just relate to that frustration.
You describe the books as industrial crime, which sounds great to dark crime fans like me, but how do you define “industrial crime” to the uninitiated?
The industrial part comes from my previous works which have been termed “industrial fiction”, mainly just because at the time it was in its infancy I was drawing a lot of inspiration, in terms of the feel and sensation of the stories, from music by bands like Nine Inch Nails. It kind of evolved and developed, absorbing other influences like punk, political activism and the like, but also integrated genre inflections, be it horror or scifi or something else. One strand went off and became the fetishcore collection Rohypnol Brides and another drifted towards the noir/crime side of things which was a natural fit. There’s no strict definition for any of this but like I say it’s mostly to do with the aesthetic, the dirty, grimy, entropic world in which it all takes place.
Why crime? What do you enjoy most about writing, and reading, in the genre?
I’m not actually a big fan of the genre, to be honest, and have barely read in it at all. I never really meant Katja From The Punk Band as a crime book, it was just a book which had some crimes taking place in it so I’ve never been aware or conscious of any of that genre’s tropes or rules or clichés. However the book got the attention of a few folk, including a high profile editor and an agent, both of whom were rooted firmly in the crime genre and so when I had a handful of ideas to weigh up for my next project it seemed natural to go for the more crime-themed ones.
Everything I write has to have some sort of off-beat, genre-inflected edge to it just to maintain my own interest however, so it’s fun to mix noir with other elements which are more fantastical – for example one manuscript I’ve written, lovejunky is very noirish but mixes in ideas of being able to chemically infuse someone’s body with a drug in order to transport it and of an addict being able to feed off of another person who has become infused with the drug they are addicted to. So I’m happy to take the crime genre as a basis but my first thought after that is pretty much always “yeah but what else can I add to the mix?”
Speaking of writing…what’s your writing process like?
I tend to develop ideas casually, just letting them gather momentum and flesh themselves out at a steady pace until they reach a point where I can start assembling a plot. I do like to plan things out in advance quite a bit and only ever start when I’ve reached the point that everything is lined up and the story is screaming to be written and I only ever work on one full-length work at a time to keep my focus. I will usually have several ideas being incubated, one being plotted and one being actually written at any one time but I won’t start on something new until I’ve completed what I’d already started on.
Who are a few of your favorite authors, and which ones have influenced you the most?
Vonnegut, Ballard and Palahniuk are the main ones, the first two because they are happy to use genre elements to better tell a story and Palahniuk because I found his style very liberating and he showed me how you could play with form (even though I wish that once in a while he would stop playing and just writing a normal fucking book). Clive Barker was an early influence too, again because he showed me, after years of reading King and Koontz, what you could do if you just broke out and did your own thing in a genre.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Hmm, I don’t have a ready answer for that one. I really enjoyed Palahniuk’s early stuff, mainly Survivor and Invisible Monsters and I think I read them at an age where they really connected with me so it might be interesting to revisit them (if for no other reason than his later stuff has failed to have much impact on me – with Snuff being a notable exception). Maybe The Books of Blood which I remember reading tucked away in a park in between exams at school – and, despite my general lukewarm feelings about Stephen King, his Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection will always be special to me because I dubbed the audio cassette versions of them from the library and just listened to them over and over when I was younger.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your free time?
With two young kids there’s not really such a thing as free time but when it does arise watching a good movie is usually the first port of call for me. I go to the gym, I get tattooed, I listen to podcasts and audiobooks and I read. I people-watch too and I think I spend a lot of time in a strange hybrid of a daydream state, – where thoughts and ideas just collide and dilate in my head – and acute awareness – paying attention to everything around me and just sucking it all in. Input, input, input.
What’s next for you?
I have two completed manuscripts – lovejunky which I mentioned already and Blue Light which is a short mystery novel – which I hope to find homes for somewhere, and I’m currently straddling a couple of projects, trying to figure out which one to pull the trigger on first. (Which isn’t, as I said above, my usual process but it’s just worked out this way this time). One is a similar style and theme to the Katja books but featuring new characters (though I might up the crazy a bit more) and the other is a dual narrative which revolves around two people who suffer from delusions going on the run together – it deals with cults and conspiracies and how everything can spiral when we succumb to irrationality. And of course there’s always the third book in the Katja series which I have some ideas for – though whether it gets written or published will probably depend on how Get Katja does so I won’t get ahead of myself.
2.) Giveaway is for 2 ebook copies (pdf, mobi, epub) of GET KATJA by Simon Logan to 2 winners
3.) Giveaway is open to everyone
4.) You must enter on or before 4/4/14
5.) Giveaway book courtesy of ChiZine
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.
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About GET KATJA:
Katja from Simon Logan’s award-winning Katja From the Punk Band is back! Free and on the mainland, she emerges from hiding, only to find herself hunted by debt collectors, mad surgeons, and a corrupt detective, all of whom will stop at nothing to claim her for their own. And behind this scramble lies the twisted mind of an old adversary, desperate to have his revenge.