Richard Major: ‘Why I wrote the world’s first satirical novel about Trump’

IndieBooks’ Richard Major has been talking to Oxford Today about how he came to pre-write a satirical novel about Trump.

‘…In autumn 2015 my family and I were living in Budapest. On a certain night of November, a night as dark-and-stormy as any gothic yarn might require, I enjoyed an elaborate nightmare. I saw the students of a huge Northern ex-polytechnic invent a mascot, a made-up student. They cobbled its portrait together with Photoshop, using visual scraps from here and there; they registered it for its course, meaning to write its essays, and eventually get it its degree – for at this dreadful place no student need ever speak to a lecturer. Only the creators outdid themselves. They emptied into their concoction all the filth of their own ids: ideas too dire to air on their own Facebook pages. Their mascot became hypnotically awful; became nationally infamous; rose to supreme power; dragged the country into general ruin. – Such was my nightmare. 

In a way it’s easily analysed. As everyone knows, Mary Shelley had a similar dream, which she wrote up over the next three days; this eventually grew into the novel Frankenstein. We had been talking about Frankenstein before I went to bed that night; here was Frankenstein’s creature reimagined. 

The difference is that Mrs Shelley, being an optimistic Liberal, gave her  monster no political role. Its public acts are limited to murders; it didn’t stand for office in the Republic of Geneva. 

But what if it had? There’s a kink in human nature (Augustine called it the mysterium iniquitatis) which draws us toward iniquity, if the iniquity’s sufficiently extreme and bizarre.Frankenstein’s creature was so frightful, so unreal – physically as well as morally – that it would surely have spoken to the basest layer of humanity, always a lively constituency. Wouldn’t it have been enthralling? So enthralling that in the end it would be irresistible? 

Anyway, I jotted down my dream; in pious imitation of Mary Shelley I managed this in three days, between lectures. Then I put it away and pretty much forgot it. 

A year later it came to mind again because history had jumped tracks.  Autumn 2015 is a long, long time ago. The issues in international politics were the Paris climate agreement and intervention in Syria. Even American politics were adult: either Jeb or Rubio was to be the Republican nominee; the debates were about the economy. Donald Trump was low-comic relief at the margin of affairs; I’d scarcely heard of him. 

But now it’s as if Shakespeare’s hunchback had hobbled downstage, dropped himself onto the shoulders of the groundlings, been carried with howls across London Bridge, been deposited in the palace, given the crown. We have slid (suddenly, how suddenly!) into an age of made-up monsters. Satire cannot keep up with the phantasmagoria…’

Intrigued? Luckily begat is still available on our website for the special launch price of just £5.

 

IndieBooks discount codes

Hi everybody!

We’ve had a few people get in touch after having problems activating our promo codes when purchasing books from our website.  To make sure you can take advantage of your discount, please add your voucher code before you click checkout, as shown in the picture below. We hope this helps and if you have any further problems please don’t hesitate to contact frances@indiebooks.co.uk.

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p.s the code shown (FPP) is still live and will deduct the cost of postage when you pre-order Explaining Cameron’s Catastrophe or Explaining May’s Miscalculations – Happy Friday!

Explaining May’s…

No sooner had we announced the release of Explaining Cameron’s Catastrophe, our expert analysis of the 2016 European Referendum, did Theresa May announce a 2017 snap election.

So now Cameron’s Catastrophe – which will be launched on 12th July – will have an unexpected, and yet to be named, successor…Will it be the majority May expected? Or did she miscalculate?

Guess today’s result to win a free copy of Explaining Cameron’s Catastrophe•!

Explaining Cameron’s Catastrophe uses expert analyses of hundreds of surveys and focus groups run by Ipsos MORI to make sense of the UK’s 2016 EU referendum: how we got here; the context, content and process; lessons from 1975; what remain did wrong; why the leave campaign was so successful; voters attitudes; and the aftermath. It also explores what the 2016 referendum result, the 2017 general election results and life without the EU, means for the future of the UK.

If you haven’t had enough politics talk today you can read a couple of bits on the election from the authors here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/paul-baines/conservative-lead-polling_b_16920440.html

http://talkradio.co.uk/news/election-hinges-how-many-labour-supporters-turn-out-says-ipsos-mori-founder-17060714851

SIR ROBERT WORCESTER is the founder of Ipsos MORI. ROGER MORTIMORE is Director of Political Analysis at Ipsos MORI and Professor of Public Opinion and Political Analysis at King’s College London.  PAUL BAINES is Professor of Political Marketing at Cranfield University and a specialist in the application of marketing in politics. MARK GILL advises governments and organisations around the world on public opinion research.

Pre-order today to receive a £5 discount.

*Winner to be announced 9th June 2017. One chosen at random from correct guesses.

The People’s Publisher?

We are delighted to announce that two of our titles have made it through to the finals of The People’s Book Prize. King’s Company, by Jessamy Taylor, will be competing in the children’s category and Quintember, by Richard Major, in fiction.

For any of you that did vote for these titles in the Autumn and Winter showcases, please be aware that these votes are not carried forward, and you are eligible to vote again in this round. We would hugely appreciate your votes where possible, for these two remarkable debut novelists.

Voting is open until the 22nd May – Vote here 

And in even better news – keep an eye on the results, as if either book manages to take home the grand prize, we will offer discount on the winning title (or titles!) for one day only when you buy direct from our website, http://www.indiebooks.co.uk

tpbp

To Syria With Love

From Syria With Love is going so well that we’re already reprinting, so we can continue assisting this wonderful charity in raising much-needed funds. So it’s a good time to update on where the money raised for the charity From Syria With Love has gone, including:

  • £600 to help distribute fuel to 60 families within the Dier Hassane refugee camp in Idlib, Northern Syria and food baskets to displaced families from Aleppo
  • £395 has helped with the third From Syria With Love School, including building/rental, stationary, fresh water, and transportation costs and the fourth From Syria With Love School, including salaries for two teachers as well as the provision of stationary and transportation
  • £50 for the transportation of desks to the For Syria With Love Kindergarden (set to open in 2 weeks time)
  • £635 is helping to stock the bags in the Bag of Happiness (Part II) Project and contain activities for refugee children such as puzzles and drawing books, pencils, crayons, and erasers

If you would like to learn more about some of the children featured in From Syria With Love, please watch this short documentary.

(Values in Great British Pounds Approximate due to conversion from Dollars)

Celebrating International Women’s Day

With a real lack of strong female characters in children’s fiction, we are choosing to celebrate International Women’s Day with Worrals, a character created by Captain W.E Johns to inspire and encourage women into aviation.

Johns, who championed the role of women in aviation in ‘Popular Flying’ magazine, took the chance of an invitation by the Air Ministry to write about the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force to create a true feminist icon. In addition to Nazi spies, Worrals is also battling the chauvinism of the RAF ‘Top Brass’, who think girls have no place at the controls of an aeroplane.

Get all 3 books in the series for £15 for today only!

World Book Day 2017

Happy World Book Day!

This year, World Book Day is marking its twentieth year anniversary. It is a joyous and animated celebration encouraging children to read. Across not only the UK, but the globe, children and adults alike will take part in a variety events proclaiming their love of a good read. From dress-as-your-favourite-character parties and putting on plays to story-time and craft workshops, World Book Day hopes to get a book in the hands of as many children as possible.

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Here at IndieBooks, we’re joining in on the fun. Already this week, we’ve been sending out free copies of Why Willows Weep to many of our loyal customers.Tomorrow, we’ll be out on the streets handing out free hardbacks of Worrals of the WAAF and A Young Person’s Guide to the Gothic. Fancy a copy yourself? As Worrals of the WAAF is published in conjunction with the Royal Air Force, try heading to the RAF Museum to snag one – they’ll be handing out books to some lucky museum-goers tomorrow.

Won’t be up that way? Well, you might just find a few hidden around the coffee shops near Chancery Lane or spot us up ’round the British Museum. We’ve got towering stacks to give away!

Check our Twitter feed tomorrow if you want to stay in the loop or feel free to tweet us if you want to track us down.

Happy Hunting!

People’s Book Prize Interview

The second interview with The People’s Book Prize comes from From Syria With Love’s Molly Masters.

  1. Have you got a message for your readers?  Use and enhance your passions, skills, and knowledge. Invest time in what you love, and do it for a cause you love. Amplify the voices of those who need to be heard. Read, read, and read even more into what you feel passionate about. Create something meaningful, create something with impact, create something with love.
  2. What can we expect from you in the future?  Expect more books and advocacy raising awareness for the plight of refugees and others in crisis and need, as well as continued support for the charity sector. Supporting, caring for, and giving voice to people will forever be a permanent passion of mine, and I personally only expect for that love to grow stronger through more learning, understanding and writing.
  3. Any suggestions to support libraries?  As ‘From Syria with Love’ is now being created into an eBook by Apostrophe Books, I have been enlightened as to how some 40,000 libraries worldwide will now have access to my book. This is an incredible thought, and I hope that more libraries will be endorsed financially to enable them to embrace the growing accessibility of eBooks in order to provide even more literature to the public. Furthermore, as a child, I attended a library group called Chatterbooks, and the library has long been a place of community and togetherness for me. It is a place where the new generation’s investment in literature and learning can be supported. It is important to forever cherish and protect libraries as a place of wonder for children, and continue these projects, both in our own libraries, and the invaluable libraries working in crisis areas.

…Brian Bilston is voting for it, will you?

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“A sharp-as-steel lawnmower of a book”: latest Quintember review

There’s a wonderful review of Richard Major’s Quintember in ‘Living Church’ – one that really picks up on the theological strands woven into the violence, mayhem and black humour.

“To say that Quintember is a mock-thriller and a comedy of manners is like saying that the Symposium is a dialogue. […] Quintember is a thesaurus of astute critiques of theological, philosophical, literary-critical, and cultural stances. These are presented through the medium of a whimsical adventure-narrative populated by caricatures and types fallen prey to the besetting lure of heresies and perversities both sacred and profane. This is a hilarious and sharp-as-steel lawnmower of a book, cutting a bold swath through the field of human delusion and vanity.”

We also learn a little more about Richard himself.

“From the pen of a graduate of St. Stephen’s House (an Anglican seminary in the Catholic tradition), an Oxford DPhil, and former Anglican Chaplain of Florence, the colorful, discerning, and exotic is to be expected. Quintember combines the charm of A.N. Wilson, the satire of Thomas Love Peacock, the observation of Thackeray, and the imagination of Robertson Davies with something of Sharpe’s Porterhouse Blue, Epiphanius’s Panarion(Against the Heresies), Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson, and a little of what is truly sinister in C.S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength.'”

Most necessary sin of Adam: Richard Major’s Quintember by Rev Graeme Napier 

 

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Guest Blog: ‘to trumplicate’

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“I am inventing a verb, to trumplicate, from which the noun is trumplication and the adjective trumplicated.

The definition of trumplicate is to disguise untruth by complicating what is essentially straightforward, so that most people are misled; a practice frequently used to defend the indefensible without actually lying outright.

An example of trumplication is the excuse given by President Trump (the eponymous founder of the technique) for restricting access to the United States from seven countries who happen to have Muslim majority populations, in order to convince people that this is not a Muslim ban.

Here is what the Trumplicator said: ‘The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.’

So the intended trumplicity is to give an impression that the policy is soundly based on president set by the previous precedent. (Trumplifiers often confuse their words, as the Great Trumplicator has been known to do on twitter, for example inventing the apt mis-spelling ‘unpresidented’. Mr Trump’s actions are already way into ‘unpresidented’ territory.)

If it was OK for Obama, why are so many soggy liberals marching up and down? This is the underlying question, intended to confuse and create doubt.

The point of trumplication is not to persuade elites, like the bosses of Apple, Google and Coca-Cola, who are so distant from real people’s lives as to be critical of restrictions on the seven coincidentally Moslem-majority countries: the target is those real people.

It works. My wife came home from her pilates class saying that people there were saying – but didn’t Obama select these seven countries? I don’t suppose they went home and found a reliably old-fashioned media outlet for an accurate account.

Here is what AP Fact Check (Associated Press) says about the above quote from the Great Trumplicator:

‘That is misleading. The Republican-led Congress in 2015 voted to require visas and additional security checks for foreign citizens who normally wouldn’t need visas — such as those from Britain — if they had visited the seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. This was included in a large spending bill passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed by Obama.

As the law was enacted, the Obama administration announced that journalists, aid workers and others who travelled to the listed countries for official work could apply for exemptions. There were no special U.S. travel restrictions on citizens of those seven countries.’

So there was no Obama ban on those seven countries, but only an extra layer of checks. This demonstrates how trumplication is not the same as lying – it is true that President Obama was party to a decision involving these countries, in a very specific and limited way, unlike the unspecific, unlimited way in which entire populations are now subject to blanket restrictions. A carefully calibrated measure of caution is not the same thing as wholesale and arbitrary actions. Trump campaigned on banning Muslims and is delivering: it’s as straightforward as that. A lie is easy to spot, but unravelling a trumplication needs a little effort (as in Jan Masaryk’s saying about the truth being a chore – see last blog)

This piece of trumplication has also had some effect on elites. The Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Baker, has instructed his reporters not to use the term Muslim-majority because it is ‘very loaded’. It is also very factual.”

From ‘Word for Word‘, by John Williams. Read more here.

John was director of communications and press secretary at the Foreign Office for six years. Working for Robin Cook, Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett, he was the chief media advisor to the Foreign Office on every major international event since the Kosovo conflict, and was heavily involved in the negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme. He was also political correspondent of the London Evening Standard, and political editor and columnist for the Daily Mirror, in a journalistic career that spanned 25 years.

John is also author of IndieBooks’ ‘Robin Cook: Power and Principles’ and ‘Williams on Public Diplomacy’.