Today featured author Guy is back on the blog. I’ve been asking him some question about his writing.
Welcome to the blog! Tell us a little about yourself
I am an author who lives in London. My interests include blogging and reading. If I were asked to describe myself I in a few words I would say that I am an introverted creature with a sardonic sense of humour.
The central characters of Symbiosis, Talulah and Taliah, are identical twins. What drew you to write about twins?
I can’t remember the first time it occurred to me that identical twins would make interesting protagonists for a book, but it was a long time ago, quite possibly in childhood. The more I read and researched identical twins, the more compelled I became to write a book with twin protagonists. Eventually I reached the point that I could resist no more.
How much research did you have to do into the medical conditions, treatments etc.?
Symbiosis entailed a lot of research particularly with regards to the medical conditions and treatments. Fortunately there is lots of information out there. Psychiatry is an interesting field so it never felt like work.
I really liked how there was a hint of something supernatural about the twins. It’s an enduring concept that twins, particularly identical twins, have some sort of connection above and beyond regular human connection. Was this something that interested you in particular?
Yes, most definitely. I have always been intrigued by the idea that twins, particularly identical twins, have a telepathic bond. Years ago, before I started writing, I remember watching the Bryan twins (most successful doubles tennis players ever). Their remarkable synergy on the court and mirrored actions both fascinated and disturbed me. It appeared that an almost supernatural bond connected the 2 of them. Perhaps this subconsciously sowed the seed for Symbiosis. At any rate, I am always excited on the rare occasion that I get to meet identical twins.
One thing I did find a little tricky was the twins’ cryptophasia (for readers, cryptophasia is a language that twins speak that only the two of them can understand). I got the sense at times that there was a structure and meaning behind the words, rather than just nonsense words, and sometimes I almost thought I knew what they were saying. Can you talk about the cryptophasia a little?
Cryptophasias (secret languages) are common amongst identical twins though they tend to grow out of them as they get older. The structure of Talulah and Taliah’s language is typical of a cryptophasia with regards the syntax, most notably the word order, and the absence of tenses. Their mother’s Caribbean heritage also has an impact on the words they use. Talulah and Taliah’s cryptophasia has an inherent childlike quality, unaltered by the passage of time.
Did you have a favourite character? Charismatic anarchist Siegfried must have been fun to write!
I like the anarchist Siegfried too despite his irresponsible nature. Readers seem to appreciate him, which I am always pleased to hear. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but let’s just say I also particularly liked one of the twins.
What great books have you read recently? Any authors you particularly admire?
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Personal by Lee Child and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Currently I am reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which I am enjoying. With regards authors I admire, there are loads, including Steinbeck and Easton Ellis (early stuff).
What is your writing process like?
I try to plan as much as possible before progressing with the actual writing. With regards writing habits, it is my custom to write wearing headphones (the kind people use for clay pigeon shooting). It blocks out the sounds of the city and allows me to concentrate. I am considering writing standing up like Vladimir Nabokov did, but first I need a desk that is the right height.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Above all enjoy it. That is the most important thing. Measures of success such as sales numbers and popularity are external pressures that can be detrimental to aspiring authors. And patience. All good things come to those who wait.
And finally, what’s next for Guy Portman?
At the moment I am working on a humorous snippet/short story compilation.