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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Interview with Kneel Downe, Virulent Blurb Universe

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With the release of a brand new book, An Owl's Tale: Fairy Blurbs, I caught up with Kneel Downe. The Chief Blurbmeister talks all things Virulent and what has influenced him...

The publishing industry does like its little boxes doesn't it? If you are an author whose writing is easy to place into these defined boxes then, chances are, you will get noticed. Who defines what these boxes are? Who even set the rule that there needed to be any? Personally, I like my reading to be a little less safe and certainly to challenge preconceived ideas. Surely, if we are to move forward then reading without a safety net is a good direction to set off in. Kneel Downe is a writer that refuses to be boxed and his style of writing has taken the Twitter Sphere by storm whilst also garnering rave reviews from Cult publications such as Starburst. Welcome to the Virulent Blurb Universe and to it's creator, the indomitable, Kneel Downe.

"Hi Kneel thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. Your writing style is wonderful to read and clearly the virulent blurb universe is huge. How would you describe it to someone visiting for the first time?

Hello there...

The VirulentBlurb is vast and rapidly expanding Universe that originally began life as an experiment to create a fictional world via the medium of Twitter. The original tweets and story introduced us to The City...a place of perpetual night and constantly falling dust. Fifty years ago there was some kind of conflict that broke the sky and robbed this world of its sun. All that remains is this City and a few hundred square miles of wasteland which are bordered by walls of flame...anyone who has tried to pass these walls has never returned.

The City is, for all intents and purposes, under the cruel hand of an organisation known as NewDawn Tec and their imposing headquarters; The PYRAMID.

This is a world of technological wonders, crime, gene splices and plot strands that loop and unravel back upon themselves.

But there is more...

There is The Universe next door; The Veil...originally thought to be a Virtual Reality created by NewDawn but which turned out to in fact be another dimension.

Then there is The EverLands...a place of fairytale and myth... the EverLands are the very core of my universe, everything that happens here is reflected throughout the Five Great Planes.

My Universe is one of reflections and echoes and wheels within wheels. Whatever happened fifty years ago in the City has rippled and spread, infecting every reality in every plane.

The Universe is broken...it's up to my characters to find a way to fix it.

Splicing is a terrifying but wonderfully innovative concept. What is the history of splicing?

A century before the events that broke the sky the world teetered on the brink of The Fifth Great War...not out of greed or acquisition but out of pure boredom. These people had fixed the Ozone layer, cleaned the world and genetically mapped and stored everything that lived... due to energy restrictions they had never truly set out for the stars and here they sat, a dead end. Boredom. There were no more wonders.

Until the rise of a technological genius/messiah? Joshua Knight and his company PolyPhaze Productions kickstarted the next wave of Mankind...DreamCages, NeedleMasks, Noonian Spheres, DeadBoxes, reliable Droids and Splicing...

After purchasing the organisation that held the World's Genebank Joshua's company began to experiment with the notion of Splicing...a fusion of human and animal genes. Soon every living thing was a viable choice for this new technology...Mammals, Birds, Reptiles...insects.

The first gene splice was called Zenith and lived for only 5 hours...but now, now the technology is cheap and easy. Stable. Anyone can go to one of the many BodyMod Shops and get spliced in a process that seems to be a mixture of vaccination and tattooing.

I love this idea...Animals have always fascinated me and literature has a long history of talking animals and experiments gone awry. As a storytelling technique it is useful to 'explain' a character without spending endless, tedious paragraphs...This one's a WOLF...OK, I get that...sure, he has his own unique quirks and baggage but he's a WOLF.

She's a MAGPIE...he's a MOUSE...the image and initial explanation goes straight to your mind. (Of course I then take great joy in breaking that initial perception.)

A word of warning though...with excessive Splicing the animal becomes stronger and the human more removed.

Always Splice safely...

Fractures


What was your inspiration for the blurb universe and what are your influences both musically as well as the written word?

The Blurb Universe originally started life about fifteen years ago in a book called THE VEIL. Due to a series of most unfortunate events, both commercial and personal, this book never saw the light of day. At this time I was deep in my hairy shamanic phase and seeing this as a rather blunt 'hint' from the cosmos I took all hard copies of the book to the top of a very high hill and ceremoniously burnt them. I then turned my back on writing and went to live somewhere hot with no internet but plenty of bars.

However, the universe remained. Nagging at me. Much of what exists now came from that book. Splicing. Living Ink. The City. The Pyramid. Violet Suicide’s ModShop...but no Lobo, Lobo had not yet been created. Many of these ideas and characters appear in this new version of the Blurb...many more will follow.

Inspiration wise? Well it would be amiss to not mention Jeff Noon (Someone who via the magic of Twitter (@jeffnoon) I am now proud to call a friend.) Jeff's books entertained and inspired me in equal measure. His cross pollination of styles was an eye opener. As was The Illuminatus Trilogy with its random juxtaposition of time and meaning. I adore the brevity of P K Dick, an ideas maelstrom and the Multiverse of Moorcock has kept me dreaming from an early age. To be honest there are too many to namecheck...however my books are littered with references and cheeky nods.

Music?

I could not exist without music and neither could The Blurb. In fact, to be truthful, the Blurb is far more musical than it is literary. The very nature of its style and flow owes much to the construction and limitations of the art of lyric writing.

Bands? Oh....so many. People are aware of my love of Blind Guardian and Hawkwind but it goes much deeper and wider than that. All genres. All styles. At heart I am a sad old Punk...an unreformed Trash Rocker. You're as likely to hear Green Day, The Pistols or The Alkaline Trio, if you pass my window, as you are Jethro Tull, Toyah, The Beatles or Wagner.

Music is the key to unlocking dreams.

Music is life.

Reflections


One of thing I love about you as an author is that your work is very difficult to box or label. How would you describe your writing style and the world you place your characters?

The Blurb is as much an interactive TV series as it is a series of books. Think of the Twitter feeds as 'free to air' episodes...then you get the books...see them as Boxsets (along with the many extras contained therein) It's up to you how you read/engage with it. Or maybe it's all just a series of songs and the books are pompous, glorified Concept Albums?

I have little or no time for boxes and genres. All stories are simply that...STORIES.

All writing is, by its very nature, Literary.

I just create how I see fit and leave the labellers to tut and shake their wizened heads.

The Blurb is a series of images, sounds, smells and words fused together. You can visualise it any way you want...everyone's ideas about just what is going on are different. I see this as a wonderfully freeing thing. I provide the World, the sandpit....you go and see what shapes or castles you can build.

Some people describe my work as poetic. I'm fine with that, poetry at its best is life changing and sublime. However, at its worst it is just a bunch of willowy lovies gazing up their own backsides. Now, I'm scared about what goes on in my head so gazing any lower than that terrifies me...so, if you see my work as poetic Thank you! But no...I'm not a true poet. I don't have the temperament for it.

I'm a failed Rock Star...a painter with no talent for art.

I'm just an old Punk dreaming. Making stuff up.

Jackport Killer


You've just released an audio story starring Lobo. It’s wonderful. Can you talk about the project and the man himself (Lobo)

Before we go any further I must thank Steve (@STBwrites), Susan(@OmandOriginal), Neil at SpokenWorld Audio (@Spoken_World) and Greg (@gregpatmore) for making this a reality. It was a crowdfunded project, so I must also thank all my readers who made it possible as well. I know a lot of budgets and corners were cut to make this thing real...a lot of people gave beyond the call of duty to get an idea to a product and for this I am eternally grateful.

The fact that it sounds so damn good just makes me even happier. I love it. The production, the music, Greg's portrayal of Lobo....All of it is superb and makes me very happy indeed.

Now...Lobo?

Lobo is a foulmouthed nasty, grumpy son of a bitch. He's a cypher. A cliche of every grizzled old cop that has ever been portrayed on screen or in books. He's soft as shite at his core. He's frequently very funny and almost always drunk or chemically enhanced. He's the last voice of law in an unlawful universe and to be honest I love him.

Amelia

I’ve been reading your work for some time and I'm familiar with Amelia and the owl. What do new readers need to know?

Amelia was an accident. A voice that continued to nag on the foulest of days. I was trying to finish a story and it was going nowhere. The house was being battered by the worst storm I can remember. Power was intermittent and I was frustrated by everything...but there, talking to me was a Red haired Girl with glowing Purple eyes. I gave in and wrote a handful of tweets just to shut her up....

But she didn't shut up. Soon I had the beginnings of a Tale. My slant on the Alice in Wonderland world.

Amelia is the glue to the Blurb. She pops up in every strand of the universe. She slips in and out of the stories....bringing wisdom, sometimes foreshadowing tragedy but mainly she can be found in The EverLands accompanied by Owl. These moments and stories are the very core of the Blurb story...It's all about echoes....

I can say no more.

What made you initially write your stories in the Twitter format? Does that pose any problems for you as an author?

To be honest I've found it to be the most liberating thing ever. Each tweet must create as much impact as possible. Padding must go out of the window. It's all about the IDEA. The concept. It also creates a bond with the readers (affectionately known as Blurbians). Feedback is instant so you know if a theme or arc is engaging the audience.

A number of projects I'm working on are being done offline, the 'proper' way of writing if you will but Twitter Fiction will always be a large part of my output.

Sporadic

How can people connect further with the Blurb universe?

The obvious way would be through virulentblurb.com where you can find stories, news etc and links to all the fiction feeds. Be aware, some feeds will stay silent for ages and then erupt in a flurry of new words. Here you can also become one of The INFECTED...it's free and painless and you will receive free stories, updates and the odd thing through the post.

And of course my main feed @kneeldowne where I post short stories, chat nonsense and thoroughly enjoy talking to my readers. The Blurb, Music, films, beer?....the topic is always yours.

Pop by and say hello.

Knowing you, you have about 4 new projects on the go at the moment. What can we expect from you in the near future?

Now the Fairytales book has been released I'm deep in the process of writing five VIRELLAS (Novellas) about various characters and events in the Blurb Universe that need to be told. They will be released one every two months and then collected into one book (With extra stories)

The first is called EMILY and I must apologise in advance...It's rather brutal in subject matter.

Then there's the second KURT LOBO CASEFILE: THE BONE EATER and the second edition of SPORADIC. SPORADIC TOO: INFECTIONS.

We're working towards a point where all the threads are ready to tie up this Phaze of the Blurb story with RABBIT'S RUN: THE JOURNAL OF KURT LOBO.

Also, the media rights for the Blurb Universe have reverted to me so if any budding film makers out there want to visualise my Universe please get in touch.

What has been your favourite character to create and write about?

This is trite but I do love them all.

Lobo is exhausting to write but in some ways is the closest to home. If Lobo's around I will spend most of the day wearing a battered hat and swearing at the world.

Amelia is softer and a joy...but she often leaves me in tears.

Which of your books would you suggest is a good one to read as a way in to your world?

They're meant to be read in order but I know that some find the freeform of FRACTURES a little daunting...so, either the new book AN OWL's TALE, in which I give away far too many secrets (or do I?) or THE JACKPORT KILLER which is basically good fashioned Noir in tight fitting CyberPunk clothes.

Thanks Kneel and I do hope readers connect with you in the way that so many already have.

Thank you! It's been a pleasure.

You can purchase any of Kneel's books by going to his author page on Lulu here

or by going to the VirulentBlurb website here . The latest book is available here

David Martin is a firm believer in wider reading but also spends his time watching horror films and going to the theatre. He has been known to venture outside but prefers worlds he can imagine. Follow him on Twitter at @ventspleen2014

Images Courtesy of VirulentBlurb



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