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.

 

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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!

Curly Covers; or, the Secret Talents of Authors

One of the fun bits of publishing that readers don’t usually see is the process of working up the cover design. We produce a design brief and the artist or designer will provide some rough ideas which we can discuss and also share with the author. Our forthcoming title The Ballad of Curly Oswald is set in a hippie commune in the 1970s, and the mix of domesticity and drug culture was one of the themes that showed up in the very first concepts.

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Ignoring our designer’s wayward spelling for a moment, this is the stage where we start to think what we do want by seeing examples of what we don’t – from this batch, we said no to the fonts but yes to exploring the idea of an abandoned caravan, which picks up the theme of the narrator, Curly Oswald, recalling his lost childhood, and the idea of an abandoned caravan that had been his childhood home waiting to be rediscovered in the depths of an English forest.

But then the mysterious author – we still have no idea who Curly is or where he or she is based – offered us some idea of her or his own. (We should perhaps have guessed they might be good, as the Curly character grows up to be a designer himself.)

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The left one perhaps falls into the ever-present trap of trying to tell too much of the story (what we call the Agatha Christie Cover syndrome – that’s for another post) but we simply couldn’t improve on the one on the right (save some tweaking of the title).  And you’ll be able to judge for yourself when the book is out next month. (Pre-order yours now!)