What is The Summer Sessions?
The Summer Sessions is a project organised by Magen Toole with the help of Melissa Dominic, bringing authors, poets, photographers and artists together under a common theme: A desire to create. This year’s project consists of ten people, in different stages of their careers and creative development, from different cultural and educational backgrounds, who agreed to be interviewed and interview one another, with the goal of cross-posting each others’ interviews in our respective blogs. It’s a project about knowing who’s in our community, and giving back to that community by helping one another promote our own work.
SESSION TWO: NOEL GAYLE, INTERVIEWED BY MELISSA DOMINIC.
Recovering from a lack of time for writing (which he used as the focus of his blogging), Noel Gayle takes time out to discuss his influences and work, his history and goals, and how he’s taking steps to reclaim his writing process.You can find more about him at his blog, Blue Marble.
1. Who are you, what do you do, where can we find your work and what do you hope to
accomplish in this world?
Well. *looks around; coughs* My name is Noel Gayle and I am an aspiring writer from the
Caribbean, Jamaica specifically, but don’t tell anyone that; that tends to get you typecast, ugh.
Right now my work is mainly up on my blog, Blue Marble (www.lekayrnthon.wordpress.com).
My desires are simple; complete all the stories that I start, get my stories read by others than me
and be able to live off of the returns of my writing at some point…but I’ll settle for (guess which)
two out of three. : )
2. What is your writing process and space like?
Oh lord. Umm. I HAD a writing process until a few months ago, when it and school and my
hectic life ran afoul of each other and my writing process lost. Terribly. I documented this (very
painful) loss on my blog and tried to move on. I’ve decided, after a bit of experimentation, that a
return to my original writing methods is best. This was simply to carve out a solid block of time,
usually 4 hours minimum, wherein I would isolate myself from all distraction (ESPECIALLY
TWITTER), sit in a secluded area and stare at the screen or paper and pencil and will myself to
organise the images, themes and ideas in my head into a sequence and order that I could then
turn into words and put down. My ideal space is an unadorned table, with either the laptop or a
legal writing pad and pencil + giant eraser center. Silence or music loud or unique enough to
drown out background noise is essential.
3. What about your inspiration? You’ve spoken about your interest in things like comic
books and Stephen King, do they find their way into your work? What else does as well?
Do you put a lot of effort into inspiration? Finding it, cultivating it, etc?
Yes, they most certainly do. Stephen King, for instance, was one of my very early and still
influential teachers with regards to weaving a universe out of disparate pieces; see the
interconnectedness of his pre- Bag of Bones work, which culminated in Insomnia, his only Dark
Tower book that isn’t a Dark Tower book. As for comics, I fell in love with Marvel and DC upon
introduction, but it wasn’t until I found Manga and started to read Webcomics then non-
mainstream comic work like the entire Vertigo Imprint (my favourite) or anything by Alan
Moore or Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis that I REALLY realised just what could be done with
words and pictures. It all finds its way into my work one way or another; if I like something I get
it and pore over it and dig at its seams and get beneath the story to see the narration or dialogue
flows and the characters work, so that I can then use it in my own writing. I put a lot of work into
finding inspiration and I am very picky about what I want to expose myself to, so much so that
I’ve been called a snob, most pointedly by my wife. I, however, believe that with all that we have
to do outside of being able to read or watch or experience all we want, we should choose what
we do devote time to very carefully. All of my entertainment is in this vein; I cultivate very
carefully what I watch and read, though I am also guilty of staring at twitter for hours on end
when I could be reading or writing. *shame*
4. You’ve mentioned that you decided you were a writer while you were growing up in
Jamaica. Talk a bit about that, if you would? Does your location or particular experience
living there have any effect on your work? Do you feel you are a voice for Jamaica? Do you
find it seeping into your writing at all?
I fell in love with stories early on. I used to read the kid version of the British classics put out by
Penguin and MacMillan, classics such as The Fall of the House of Usher (still gives me chills).
Coming up through Disney (where I got my love for animation) and then comics (where I got my
love for, well, comics) I was always creating stories in my head, moving characters around and
spinning out scenes for fun. I enjoyed these inner flights of fantasy immensely. I cannot pinpoint
when I started saying that I wanted to be a writer, but I had always had skill with writing and
manipulating the English language and I believe I settled on being a writer because it was the
easiest and most immediately available avenue that I saw to creating stories, which is what I
REALLY love. I could do it anytime, with only paper, a pencil and an eraser; I did not have to
go to school to do it and I believed that I had some level of talent, so being a writer it was. If
anything, my location and experience with Jamaica and its authors and Caribbean authors on a
whole has made me NOT want to write anything set in the Caribbean or concerned with
Caribbean issues, or if so, only in a superficial sense. They are, by and large, a most depressing
set of writers; well, the ones that we got exposed to in school are and the few that I have
ventured to explore beyond that. Depressing and disheartening. Thinking on it now, this opinion
may be a holdover from a juvenile reaction to the levels of bitterness and despair evident in the
stories we were made to read at that time. There are so many others who are better informed and
(seem to) possess so much more insight into the Jamaican condition than me who DO strive to be
voices for Jamaica that it would be remiss of me to even consider to pretend to that role. *takes
breath* As for it seeping into my writing…I imagine that it must. There are times when I am
moved to write about Jamaica and its state of developmental stasis and frequent bouts of
regression, but to do so I would have to sort out what is factual from my emotional reactions to
same, and that is a process that would require a closer examination than I am willing to give to
5. Style and Genre: do you feel you fit into any one particular genre? How would you
define your style? Would you define them at all?
I would be quicker to define my (lack of a) style than the genre that I might fit in, but…hurm. A
very broad definition of Fantasy, with some Sci-Fantasy thrown in. This is in relation to the
stories that I have in mind now, however…who knows what the future may bring. My style is
annoying. Stream of consciousness with the odd complete book/story/setting bubbling up to my
conscious mind from below, leaving me scrabbling for a means to get it all down before it fades
back into the roiling purple mass that is my under-mind. I never mastered sitting down and
squeezing out that one word per minute that you need to get through the days when inspiration
has stayed in bed, that little skill that you need to actually finish stories and have successful
rewrites. I am in the process of doing so, however, so my style is still very much incomplete.
6. Is there something in literature/writing/what-have-you that you haven’t tried that you’d
really like to try? Some sort of story or genre or issue you haven’t touched on that you’d
love to get your hands on?
There’s so much. I’ve only recently, in the last year or so, achieved the confidence in myself that
I needed to stop writing what I felt I should be writing and start writing the stories that I wanted
to write. Outside of these stories there is just so much that I want to attempt and work on with
regards to writing that I don’t actively think about it; I would lock up and never get any work
done, always afraid that while I am working on something I am losing time on doing a hundred
other things. With that said…two things. I would like to write a believable, likable and even
admired (by females) female hero in a medieval fantasy setting and I would also like to write
about someone going mad, from the perspective of the person going insane; very much a work of
Ergodic Literature, a la House of Leaves. I would have so much fun with that.
7. What project, if any, is dear to your heart right now? Something you’re working on at
this exact moment. Do you have any of it you can share with everyone?
Junkie. It is one of the first two stories I wrote right after I made up my mind to be a writer. The
short of it is that he works for a shady corporation who has him by the balls because of past
discretions and his job is to be a janitor for the lives of specific human beings; wiping them out
of memory at the direction of the company. Here, he comes face to face with his current
assignment. Taken from the first draft.
[He breathed out, closed his eyes and conjured up an image of a door in his mind. The itch in his
palm intensified to a burning sensation. Oak, polished to a high sheen. It was a firebrand in his
palm, searing hot. He stood now in the center of the living area, back to the kitchen and facing
the front room and door. He lined the door in his mind with metal, hard and solid, outlined
against a white infinity behind which billions of lines of code and interminable reams of colour
roiled. He refocused on the door, felt as the connection was made by the watch between his
mind, his body and the central computers. He felt/knew that the door was solid, suspended in
some half reality/space occupied by all four at once. His palm was now a raging fire. He used his
burning palm to touch the door and it vanished in a flash of white, behind which stood the
subject...no. Behind which stood Grace McDonald. He shook her hand.] (Let me know if this is good
8. Do you have any messages or themes you keep going back to in your work? Something
you’d like to share with the world and you hope it plays out in your words?
Not at the moment. I know what I, as a person, believe in and would like to see more of in the
world, but me as a writer, who I believe may have his own spin on my views, is still feeling
himself out. If that makes any sense to you.
9. Part of being a writer is putting yourself on par with other writers, I think, even those we
admire for their own literature. What other writers do you enjoy reading? What other
writers write things that align with your own work? What other writers would you like to
be in a short list with?
These are works which I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. David Lukyanenko’s Night
Watch series, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer,
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (still better than all the hype, if you don’t mind the thick language),
Stephen King’s The Dark Half and Insomnia, anything by Alistair Maclean, Dick Francis or
Agatha Christie (barring Miss Marple) and, of course, the science fiction and fantasy classicists
such as Asimov, Fritz Leiber, R. E. Howard, Lovecraft, Poe and so on. Night Watch lined up
remarkably well with my ideas of an effortless and stereotype free integration of magic with a
contemporary setting, so much that I feel like not doing it anymore. Little, Big, by John Crowley,
though I’ve never read it, seems to fall very close to my views on how the world of Fae should be
presented; no hard and fast rules, but dreamy and ephemeral. Not a book but the anime No Ein
and its views on dimensional travel in a branching universe reality. In fact, I have a story up on
my blog influenced by it; it was a part of a writing project that I did with three other bloggers and
can be found here: http://bit.ly/hmMoUr. Who would I like to be on a short list with? Well. I
honestly have no idea. I would like to be on a list with people whose work resonated with mine
on a level beyond earning power or genre. It is easy for me to read my work and see what I put
into it, but it would be the readers that complete their half of the conversation that is all art and
storytelling that see it objectively, for what it is. They will ultimately determine this list. Sounds
like a BS answer, I know, but it is what I believe.
10. What would you tell a younger version of yourself, the version of yourself that just
picked up a pen and started writing, about what you know now? Some bit of wondrous
knowledge that only you could share?
Friendships are not a one way street (long story) and belief in yourself and your stories are the
greatest tool that you as a writer will ever have. Keep your ass in the chair and write through the
blank, painful, despair ridden moments as many times as is needed to get the words on the page
to match the narratives in your head. Keep at this and the rest will come.
11. Lastly, any cool things you’d like to share with us?
My backyard is the home of an ancient race of fae that split off from the Seelie Court decades
ago…um, not really. Cool things…believe in each other. Believe in people, give the persons you
meet during your day the chance to surprise you and if they disappoint you, then be forgiving.
Utopia’s are not automatic, they are built, one community minded person at a time.
Also, drink more water. Your skin loves it. : )