Allen Miles has a new collection of short stories out soon (available as a print edition or ebook), so instead of asking him about that I thought I’d quiz him on the title. Somehow this led to discussion of Paul Daniels and the Cheshire Cat. Do feel free to ask him your own questions in the comments.
Q: The title “This is how you disappear” suggests you’ve either given some thought to disappearing yourself or to how you would advise someone else to disappear, so prepare to be grilled on that. How and under what circumstances would you ever disappear, or wouldn’t that appeal as an option to you?
It is an option that appeals to me at roughly 6:58 each morning, which is the time I arrive at work. (Mr Miles’ colleagues wish to point out that the above is a blatant lie, as he is late pretty much every day.) The idea of disappearing is incredibly romantic to me, from Richey Edwards to Reggie Perrin, I’ve always admired the idea of simply vanishing off the face of the Earth. It started at the fag-end of my first co-habitation with a female in my nineteenth year; we were officially separate although still living together, a amazingly hostile atmosphere had been brewing and one tea-time we’d had a horrific falling out over whose turn it was to clean the hamster cage out. I took beverages with some friends that night in order to relieve the stress and ended up in a fleeting romantic tryst with a girl called Lauren who had a tattoo of a Ribena berry on her left shoulder. I stood admiring her collection of boxing videos in the small hours of the morning as she prepared us some Ovaltine and I realised that she was the only person in the world who knew where I was. Oh, how I enjoyed that feeling! I left as the sun rose feeling somewhat the worse for wear, hoping to see her again soon. Sadly, I’d taken her number down wrong and when I rang it I got through to the local branch of Heron Frozen Foods. I was made aware of a fabulous discount on Findus Crispy Pancakes though, so all was not lost.
Q: Who would you like to help disappear – can be a real person or a fictional character – either to protect them from the harsh and unpleasant realities of their world or to just get them to bugger off?
I would like Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell to disappear, both of whom are fictional characters, because my mate Dunham is determined to murder them both with his bare hands, and he’s a double-hard bastard. I don’t care if he kills them, they’re ghastly, I just don’t want him to go to jail because he lends me money from time to time.
Q: You work as a perioperative support worker when you aren’t writing or dadding or sleeping, but if you’d been a magician or conjurer, what kind would you have been and why? Top hat, rabbit, fake flowers, doves or the street magic type or someone sitting in a Perspex cube looking mournful?
I wanted to be a magician when I was about eight. I had a Fisher Price magic box and a cape, but it never worked out for me because of Thatcher. I met Paul Daniels and the lovely Debbie McGee once in my former life as a barista. Daniels never spoke to me and seemed deeply unpleasant, but the lovely Debbie was extremely friendly and I was able to buy a slice of her face with which I was able to repair a hole in my favourite winklepicker.
The sleeping is something I haven’t really taken to as an adult, possibly as a result of the dadding. I find myself up at seven most mornings, the blood barely moving in my veins, hoping that my intravenous caffeine starter pack that I ordered from Betterware sometime ago will arrive. An interesting bi-product of this is that I have become fascinated by a pop act on Nick Jr called Go!Go!Go! My daughter loves them and despite the fact that the nineteen year-old-punk in me is howling in anguish, I have found myself becoming a fan. I know the words to all the songs and I know all their names. Ten years ago I would have probably hated them but these days I find myself imagining going for a pint with Steve, getting married and settling down with Holly, then ruining it all by having an affair with Jade. Don’t start watching them, I think they may be some sort of Orwellian mind-control experiment for knackered parents.
Q: If you were the Cheshire Cat would you be tempted to make only your tail appear, like a furry snake, and freak people out, and if so, who would be top of your shock list? Or would you make another part of its anatomy the focus?
I don’t care. I loathe cats. I loathe both of my own cats. They are sinister calculating bastards who exist solely to make me unhappy. When the aliens land they’re gonna come into my house and see me on my hands and knees cleaning their litter tray out while they sit in my place on the settee, leaving hairs all over it and preening themselves. Who are these aliens going to think rule the world? The cats, obviously. They have to be stopped.
Oh, incidentally Hoffs, I have a book out soon. It is called This Is How You Disappear and it is a collection of short(ish) stories and prose. It is being published by Abrachadabra Books, who are the coolest imprint on the planet, the literary equivalent of Factory Records. It is hilarious in some places, upsetting in others. It contains loads of drinking and smoking, a jazz fan who watches Dangermouse, a pub chef who’s obsessed with Bruce Springsteen, a kindly middle-aged hippy nurse who ends up living with a helpless young pisshead, a computer geek who gets seduced by a stunning Scottish sales rep who’s not all that she seems, and a shambolic punk band who have a rather intense night in East London. There are lots of trenchcoats, lots of rain and lots of blood. It is neo-noir at its finest. It is available on both Kindle and paperback formats and the cover art is utterly superb, due to the almost supernatural talent of my good buddy Kenny Crow. Please buy it, my daughter is going through shoes like nobody’s business.
Allen Miles is a six-foot three anaemic stick insect with a bit of a cold. He lives in Hull with his wife and daughter and annual purchase rates. When he’s not writing he’s either watching old footage of Matthew Le Tissier on YouTube at one in the morning while drunk or moonlighting as an Ellen Degeneres look-a-like. His rants, along with those of Hoffs herself and other ludicrously talented writers such as Paul Featherstone, Andi Ware and Martyn Taylor, are to be found at http://www.sittingontheswings.com
You can buy This Is How You Disappear at http://www.tinyurl.com/disappear2014