With Jason Michel
For those of you who have been long time Pulp Metal & online crime/horror addicts, Richard Godwin will need absolutely no introduction. His short stories are filled with suspense, humour, grotesque violence &a superlative sense of eloquence. His series for PMM, Pony Trip & his Mustard Man one-offs, have drawn praise from all quarters.
Suffice to say Apostle Rising is everything we could expect from such a master of the sinister little gems that we all enjoy to scare the willies out of us. It is part police procedure & part religious horror & the two seperate strands mesh perfectly together.
The story is one of the pain of the past intruding upon the future as one detective, Frank Castle is faced with the seeming resurgence of an unsolved hideous series of crimes. Crimes that almost destroyed him & threaten to do so now.
The level of desair & violence that this book conjures up is as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel. Yet, it is the plot & the astounding level of research done that really makes this book a cut above the average.
Look, if you like your crime novels to actually physically thrill & repulse you at the same time then buy this book.
I was lucky enough to ask the man himself a couple of questions.
Q1: Richard, AP is a very dark read indeed, old boy.
Where did the initial idea for the story come from?
A1:‘Apostle Rising’ came from a convergence of things situations events and ideas. I was reading about offender profiling and I was also was looking at the press in the UK. The two things came together and the truth is I started writing. I write usually with no plan I let it unfold.
The characters started to come alive and I let them go where they wanted.
I was interested to explore the ambiguity of policing, the amorphous areas where the safe positions we use to comfort ourselves are eroded. We think we inhabit certain areas of legislation and justice but the truth is they don’t exist.
I was interested to explore the moral dilemmas of a cop, a cop who is flawed as indeed all humans are. And to make him retain his humanity.
I think stereotypical good guy bad guy images are overplayed and while they may appeal to a formula are ultimately propagating a lie that is viciously annexed to the worst political manipulations. I am interested to hear about a cop who crosses the line into criminality and still manages to do his job. I was also trying to show the effect evil has on the lives of those who come into contact with it.
Q2: The book is rich with detail. Procedural & historical.
How much research went into AP?
How did you go about gathering such diverse information?
A2:Most of the detail had already been gathered by my subconscious mind. I think all writers observe. I also read a lot. I did research forensics and police procedure but beyond that it came from what I had already incorporated from life the biggest library of all.
Q3: AP deals with the religious mind & you seem to have a fascination with belief systems, symbolism & all things numinous. You tap into the current bugbear of Western civilisation – that of religious fundamentalism, especially apocalypticism & its consequences & I see shades of Neo-noir works such as Se7en etc. in there.
Were you exposed to religion as a child?
Do you think, as many scientists now do, that these ideas are somehow evolutionarily “hard-wired” into us?
A3:Neither of my parents were religious. I became interested in belief systems when I studied the need to believe in a god be it money or some codified deity. I think reading authors like Joseph Conrad and Dostoyevsky had a profound influence on me and led me to study various forms of cults. Christianity we have to remember was a cult before it became a religion. Scientology is now a religion in certain parts of the world. The need for beliefs is a narcotic, it is the ultimate ideational hiding place when pain seems unbearable. Studies have been carried out on the brains of schizophrenics and paranoiacs. There is a deficit of dopamine levels that extreme beliefs compensate for. Apparently the repeated brainwashing with belief creates a surge in dopamine levels. It makes you wonder how much of what we do is caused by brain chemistry.
We see people everywhere numbing themselves with narcotics and delusions. TS Eliot said ‘human kind cannot bear very much reality.’ I would be interested to read a study of the similarities of brain chemistry between a smack addict and a religious fanatic.
Fundamentalism is allied to poverty and a lack of education.
It is created by the manipulation of the desparate by those who are convinced they are right.
I think ideas are hard wired through generations of conditioning.
Q4: In Q1 you mentioned the press.
Do you see the media as something that manipulates our modern consciousness?
& with the sheer amount of information thrown at us everyday, many people are beginning to get confused about just what to believe.
Do you see a cultural nervous breakdown coming up ahead?
A4:I think most of the mainstream press is irresponsible and unprofessional. I agree with Frank Zappa’s statement that it is aimed at making you docile and ignorant. The Financial Times is probably the best newspaper in the world because it contains articles that if you read them properly expose what is really going on with the key economic players, the pharmaceuticals and the backers of the arms trade. Businessmen need that kind of information. That is where the money is. The economy we inhabit is built on a structure of dependency and control with the drug companies at the top.
There is no real transparency of information so it is down to the individual to decodify the lies.
Reading sensationalism and about who’s fucking who is not the way to figure out what is really going on but that is what we are fed.
It is the piece of dope in the breakfast cereal.
The cultural nervous breakdown has already occurred. We are in the stages of mass psychosis.
Q5: How important is the role of writer to challenge his audience & how should he approach taboos?
A5:I think there is no fixed role for a writer that is why art is beautiful. A writer can entertain and enlighten or he may expose his experience, he may terrify you or challenge. I think it depends on the subject matter but where complacency that threatens our lives is concerned that needs to be challenged, a writer needs to shake you loose. Taboos need to be approached with caution and there are many that are necessary to civilisation.
No great writing emerged from a self-conscious bourgeois image. If it is a piece of narcissism then it is replicating itself.
The truth about great writing is it doesn’t follow a rule book.
Q6: Pony Trip, your series for this very mag, has caused quite a stir.
What were the influences for that strange & perverse idea for a story?
Did you have it all planned out before you put fingertip to keyboard or did you just go with the flow & let the muses play buckeroo with your sanity?
A6:I wrote it in strange weather conditions. I start with a line and I let that line lead me if you go with it it will take you where it wants you to go. ‘Pony Trip’ has caused a stir and shown some interesting reactions. I think if you are interested in art really interested in what literature is saying you will go into the dark corners. There are lines I would not cross. If something is about a character and part of that character I am really just writing it down. You read horrifying things every day in the newspapers so why do we not baulk at journalism? I think the worst thing a writer can do is say to themselves ‘I’m this sort of writer so I dress like this or act like this, there are some things I wouldn’t read’. That’s just narcissism.
I had nothing planned out until that day I wrote the beginning. I think Pulp Metal Magazine is its rightful home, a magazine which is about allowing creativity to be unfettered by the things that tie it down.
Q7: If your stories were collectively saying “something”, what would that “something” be?
A7:The world is wide and it’s wonderful and dark and strange and unkwowable. There are all sorts of people crazy, beautiful, brilliant, evil, good, nothing, great, stupid, corrupt. Dig deep. Dig down into the roots and look at literature as a way of exploring as well as entertaining if we don’t ask the right questions we’ll never get any answers.
Q8: Your stories tend to encompass many aspects of the human condition from the riotously violent to the sad & tender, which way do you see your writing going?
A8:Deeper and in different directions. Jason I don’t know and that is why writing is so wonderful it’s a process you can never reach the end of.
Q9: & now for some inside dope … AP, do I smell a sequel?
& for the future?
A9:Oh yes there’s a sequel. If it is popular I will write it.
Two foreign publishers are interested in acquiring foreign rights to ‘Apostle Rising’. Another novel of mine will be published as an e-book soon.
For all the dope on Richard’s shadowy world, go to: