Interview with Stewart Home

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Stewart Home is known in Russia for such works as 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princes, Slow death, Blow Job. In an interview with Young Space magazine, the writer told about new works, attitudes towards social networks and about sexual magic, and also explained why his early novels are relevant today.

Your books are cult in Russia, new readers are looking for them, and discover the world of your books in 2018. Do you think that the message of your novels is relevant, will they be able to convey the right thoughts to the minds of readers?

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Capitalism is going backwards, so my old books get more relevant as every day goes by. Of course I’m also writing new books but I haven’t allowed them to be published yet because they are too far ahead of the curve to make sense to most people yet. I need to wait for the world to catch up with me – which may take some time. I did have my collected poems published this year under the title SEND CA$H but much of my verse is very old! Also just being published in English is my non-fiction book Re-Enter The Dragon, which mostly looks at martial arts films of the seventies and eighties that riff on Bruce Lee. So this book about cinema is timely enough because it’s about old shit. Because I was often five, ten and even more years ahead of my time, readers can still use my prose to erase false ideas and replace them with better ones.

You often mention that you are not writing for a wide range of readers. Who is this category of people? How can you characterize your reader?

I’m not writing for those who like conventional literature and who think its okay for the world to go on the way it is today. My readers are most likely to be those who understand it’s time to create a new and better world where we can live in states of ever growing ecstasy.

There are many girls among your fans in Russia. What can explain such an interest of the female sex readers to your novels?

In part that’s thanks to the rituals I’ve engaged in with various witches who believe it is necessary to transcend gender. Sexual magic is very powerful and its ultimate aim is to go beyond binary oppositions between male and female, although it also achieves other things. The swift rise of the trans rights movement around the world recently shows what a powerful current various wiccan and post-wiccan covens have created on this front. Helped by my active participation in feminist witchcraft, my fiction is more progressive on all fronts than the literary norm and women readers tend to appreciate that more than men. One sees an attempt to fight back against this in the manosphere and so-called ‘men’s rights movement’, but ultimately all the reactionary nonsense associated with the alt-right will be defeated.

In your novels, such as Red London, Blow Job, 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princes much of the narrative is given to a varied description of sex. Where do you get inspiration for so much material? Have you ever thought about writing scripts for films in the porn industry?

There were a lot of discussions of how to create feminist porn in London and the big cities in north America in the 1980s. Maybe the fact the world is going backwards means we need to revisit that…. But unless you see things like the two video promos I scripted for my spoken word album Proletarian Post-Modernism (you can see the one banned by YouTube on my Vimeo channel), then I haven’t really thought about scripting porn films. Obviously I know porn star Gina Snake who appeared in those album promos, although she left London a couple of years ago to go back to Valencia, so I haven’t seen her for a while.

I attract a fair amount of women who’ve worked in the sex industry and like my books when I do public events in London, and they often tell me about their work, so that’s one avenue for information and ideas. I seem to particularly attract dominatrixes and they usually have loads of great stories to tell. But even before I was writing books I had friends who worked as strippers and they’d tell me about what went on around their performances. I usually find it much more interesting to talk with women about sex than men, and gay men are usually more inspiring to me on that front than straight men. There’s also a wealth of literature on sex –and of course I can also draw on my own experiences and imagination.

Do you meet with your readers? Tell us about some funny event from meetings with readers.

At a London event a local reader turned up with his Japanese girlfriend. He wanted me to go home with them and have a threesome. The girlfriend didn’t speak much English so it was difficult to know if she was actually into what her boyfriend was proposing we do. Obviously consent is crucial to good sex and it was very difficult to understand the girl’s position on the matter as she just nodded and smiled rather than spoke. As luck would have it, an American woman living in London who worked as a dominatrix was also there and came over to chat with me. She had such amazing stories to tell I went off with her and left the couple I’d been with to work out between themselves if they really wanted to have a threesome with someone.

Another time a reader put me up in Helsinki when I was doing events in Finland and the first night I was there insisted I sleep in his bed and that he’d take the sofa. He told me his girlfriend would be coming home in the early morning but he’d have breakfast with her and I could carry on sleeping if I wanted. My host didn’t wake up when his girlfriend got in and she hopped into bed with me thinking I was her boyfriend. When I turned around because she’d woken me up, she screamed, jumped out of bed and ran out of the flat only half-dressed.

You describe subcultures that were underground and did not assume their free study in your novels. With the advent and development of the Internet, information has become more accessible at times. How much did this affect the subcultures you describe? In your opinion, the characters of Stewart Home can exist in the context of the present time?

Some subcultures are happy to exist in the open on the internet and it can be easy to find information about them. Others prefer to remain hidden even if people wrongly believe they can find out about them online. I think witchcraft is the perfect example here, there’s plenty about it online but you really wouldn’t have a clue about what a lot of feminist witches are doing in terms of gender magic unless you both hung out with them and got them to trust you. So while youth culture seems to have been weakened from its endless exposure via social media and other online outlets, with some subcultures the digital world hasn’t really altered them in anything like the same way. So the characters I write about may change but yes the ones I chose to depict can still exist here and now.

The Internet affects people’s behavior. They become freer, more aggressive. How do you assess whether this has a positive effect on the freedom of choice of a person? Will such actions be able to influence the undermining of capitalist ideas, or is it another round of the era of consumption?

The effects of online life are dialectical but always transformative – and online life reshapes offline life and vice versa. It is neither all good nor all bad. That said technology isn’t neutral and big companies have figured out how to carve things up in the interests of corporations. So social media is a lot less interesting and effective for me than it was 10 and more years ago. In the old days it was really very easy to spread information online if you used a little imagination. It’s much harder now. Today companies like Facebook limit the spread of posts unless you pay them advertising fees. I haven’t used my VK account in a very long time so I don’t know what things are like there now. I stopped going on VK years ago because I didn’t like the way they were trying to control me but it is no worse than what Facebook or Twitter do.

There is violence in your novels along with other topics. Did it happen that you were in a mess that threatened your safety and life because of your books?

I have had death threats and people protesting against me at events in the past but not recently. The person who seemed to stir it up the most was a British fascist called Jonathan Bowden, who used his position as a prominent figure on the new right to attack what he called my ‘cultural communism’ – this was before such reactionary positions were rebranded as ‘alt-right’. Bowden dropped dead a few years ago and I haven’t had any problems since then.

In 2014, your new novel The 9 Lives Of Ray The Cat Jones was released. What problems do you affect in it, what awaits the main character Ray Jones?

That book is a lightly fictionalised account of one of my relatives Ray Jones who was a famous criminal in London in the 1950s and 1960s. His escape from Pentonville Prison in 1958 generated banner headlines on the front pages of all the UK newspapers. He always wanted someone to write his biography but never saw that happen in his lifetime, he died in 2001. I had an eight page letter he’d written detailing his life and a treatment for a film he’d hoped would be made about him, as well as a lot of newspaper clipping, books that name checked him, and a few interviews I did. I didn’t believe everything I was told about Ray, so I thought it was best to write the book as fiction, although it’s probably more accurate than most supposedly non-fiction criminal biographies.

The title of a writer is always surrounded by a halo of romanticism, although reality is always different. Surely you could immediately dispel many myths about the writing career, but were there any disadvantages that you did not even know about? And vice versa, what did you find unexpected advantages in the writer’s work?

The worst thing about writing for me is that people want me to live up to the image they have of me. I can be very rude but only when I have good reason to be that way. On the London writing scene my reputation is I’m really obnoxious, and so literary figures – usually male — who meet me often tell me they’re disappointed I’m not as rude as they expected. It’s just a bit of a drag people expecting you to live up to a reputation like that. Moving on, I’m kinda surprised how much people want to tell me about their lives, and since they’ve often led really amazing lives that’s great! I was also surprised the first time a reader sent me her knickers, it was a Russian reader, but I’ve got used to female readers sending me things like that.

Literature usually comes to life through other writers and their works. Did you have literary mentors, books that inspired you to your own works?

When I was growing up I never met anyone who wrote books. I didn’t really get to meet any fiction authors until I’d written a novel myself. So I didn’t have literary mentors. That’s probably a good thing because it left me free to go my own way. But lots of books inspired me and I particularly liked the four novels Mick Norman wrote in the early/mid-seventies about motorcycle gangs. I also got to know him before he died, and he was fabulous – his real name was Laurence James.

How do you regard the development of literature in our time, has it become more corrupt or independent?

To get mass attention authors are dependent on a stupid prize culture, so literature has become more corrupt. Of course good writers don’t need to refuse prizes, its only worthless novels that win awards. Prizes are rewards for producing watered down mediocre work that offends nobody. Fortunately it is easy to publish and self-publish now, so it isn’t difficult to bypass the entire literary system as long as one isn’t looking to become super-famous.

You were closely associated with music during adolescence. Can you share Top 5 songs for all time from Stewart Home?

My top 5 changes every day, there is no all time to it!

 Adam and the Ants —  Beat My Guest 

                                            Rose Batiste I Miss My Baby 

Davy Graham — I Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes

                                            Henry Flynt — You Are My Everlovin’ 

                                                      Denise Motto — Tell Jack 


Ольга Сажнева
Ольга Сажнева
Литературный обозреватель Янгспейс

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