In this week's Mulholland newsletter, editor Ruth Tross takes a look at Tuesday's Kitschies event; Storytelling Without Limits:
On Tuesday night Lauren Beukes, Warren Ellis and Benjamin Percy headed across the river to the Brixton Ritzy to answer the Kitschies' questions on storytelling. Around 80 people came to the sellout event:
The evening kicked off with readings – made even cooler by the tentacle effect of the lighting. Here's Benjamin Percy reading from his werewolf epic, Red Moon.
I can't quite describe how deep and resonant his voice is (the man himself describes it as 'growly') but here’s a video if you want to check it out.
Ben was followed by Warren Ellis reading from Gun Machine – the part where detective John Tallow meets Bat and Scarly, the crime scene investigators, for the first time. If you’ve read the book, you'll understand why the audience was laughing throughout – if you haven't, you are missing out on lines like "Of course I don't care if you're bleeding! I'm fucking autistic!", so frankly what are you waiting for?
Lauren Beukes did a show and tell of her work, ranging from Moxyland and Zoo City to The Shining Girls – which is about a time-travelling serial killer and is brilliant – as well as her other works in comics, TV, documentaries and animation. I was particularly taken with her Fables spin-off about Rapunzel.
The readings were followed by a Q&A which covered a huge range of topics: why the authors chose to focus on America – Ben lives there; Lauren wanted to tell a story that delved into violence and the past without it being an apartheid novel, which it would have been if she’d set it in South Africa; Warren wanted to make clear that America does have a deep, pre-European history that everyone overlooks – Broadway was once a Lenape Indian hunting trail, for example. They talked about their inspirations, their writing style, why it's important to juggle projects so you don't get bored, or can switch to something different when you get stuck on an idea. Genre came up, and the snobbery associated with it – Warren Ellis felt genre has effectively been eaten by the mainstream now; Lauren thought the only genre was 'book' and Ben Percy's solution is to divide all fiction into writing that sucks and writing that kicks ass.
Finally we got some brilliant personal stories: Lauren smuggled an anti-retroviral message into a kids' cartoon, Ben Percy lived out in the woods on archeological digs (he wanted to be Indiana Jones, but found there was a lot more camping and far fewer Nazis and beautiful women in real life), and Warren Ellis used to punch phone boxes in the hope of getting some spare change.
It was a great evening all round – credit to the Kitschies supremos for organising, and do check out their site.
Photos credit to Poppy North, Benjamin Percy, and me!
And of course huge thanks to Warren Ellis, Lauren Beukes and Ben Percy, for a hilarious and inspiring evening about stories and words. Here they are wondering why no one has brought them another drink yet:
Mulholland UK editor