Steven Hall, author of the excellent post-modern thrill ride novel The Raw Shark Texts, is one our all-time favorite authors here at BGB. Mr. Hall was gracious enough to send me a copy of his book after I snarkily called him out over a wrongly interpreted remark (oops!). Once in my hands, Raw Shark just blew me away. I give the book a shout out almost every chance I get. Seriously: type “Raw Shark Texts” in our search box over there on the right and see what happens.
Hall was the subject of our very first author interview, and he has been a friend to the blog ever since. In the greatest coup this blog has ever scored, Steven Hall was the guest of honor at a Baby Got Books’ Reading Series event here in Atlanta. See!:
We decided recently that it was high time to catch up with Steven Hall to see what’s new.
Baby Got Books Interview with Steven Hall, author of The Raw Shark Texts:
Baby Got Books: First things first. When’s the new book, variously known as “Book 2″ and code name “Hula Hoop,” coming out?
Steven Hall: I’d tell you if I knew! “Hula Hoop” really has taken on a life of its own and I’m just holding on as best I can. It’s a very complicated book to write, it has a lot of specific demands, some of which are pretty unique. I want to make sure I get it right, or at least give it my very best shot.
BGB: At 3 AM Magazine, they quote you as saying, ““Even more than Raw Shark Texts, the second novel uses the architecture of the book to tell the story (but not in the same way). The book also features one and a half returning characters from the first novel, a kite, lots of dolls houses and a gigantic art installation called Narnia Junction.” One and a half characters? What is that supposed to mean?! Any new developments to share?
Steven Hall: Heh, it means that the second character had a tiny cameo in Raw Shark Texts, so brief that most people won’t remember. Actually, it’s starting to look like ‘one and two half returning characters’ – somebody else from that first book is now making very odd semi-appearances in this one, it least, it might be them…
I’m very interested in creating a series of books that all enhance each-other – You can read any of the book alone, that’s fine, but if you chose to read Raw Shark and Hula Hoop, then each would be enhanced by possibilities presented in the other. Or not. It’ll depend on the sort of reader you are. I’m excited by the meta-game of how all these books fit together (the plan is for there to be seven, eventually) – so there will be areas for dedicated reader to explore not just within each novel, but very much in the spaces between them.
Hula Hoop is a hub book, in some ways – we’ll be meeting people in Hula Hoop that play important parts in books 3, 4, maybe 5. And that someone who played a very important part in book 1 too.
BGB: How many languages has Raw Shark been translated into now? I’ve lost count. Do you have a shelf with all of the editions on it?
Steven Hall: I think we’re up to thirty languages, although not all of them have been published yet. The complex Chinese edition came out last month. It’s a thing of beauty. Yes, I have a shelf with all the editions. People say “wow, I didn’t realise you’d written so many books.” I have to put them right. It’ll be nice when there are copies of ‘Hula Hoop’ up there too.
BGB: The screenwriter for the film adaptation of The Raw Shark Texts is Simon Beaufoy, who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire moments after working on your project. Nicely done. What’s the latest word on getting Raw Shark to the screen?
Steven Hall: It was nothing to do with me! The credit for that goes to FilmFour and Pete Czernin from Blueprint Films. I think they’re trying to attached a director to the project at the moment, I’m trying to keep my nose out and let them get on with it. It seems to me that there are wall-to-wall cooks in film making at the best of times, they don’t need me sticking my nose in too. That said, I am very interested and excited to see what they come up with.
BGB: On your blog you mention working on any number of projects: Dr Who radio plays, a short film project, a top-secret e-book project for Book Two, on-going Raw Shark projects, Book Three (or did I make that one up?). Anything else that I’ve forgotten? It sounds very busy over there at Hall Manor. With so much happening, how do you keep everything moving forward?
Steven Hall: With difficulty (and no, you didn’t make Book Three up – that’s on the slab too, insanely). I’m also putting the groundwork together for a big project with the very talented Christian Ward. This is going to be something a bit different to my novel work, a different area of interest for me. I’m looking forward to stretching a different set of muscles and hopefully adding a second string to my bow. If we can pull it off, it’ll be quite a piece of work, I think. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, but I’m enjoying myself very much. To be honest with you, Raw Shark Texts was paralyzing for a while – it was so big, it completely took over my life, and it was very difficult to get past the craziness that ate up almost all of 2006-2008. I think I’m doing that now, or at least I’m getting there.
BGB: Speaking of Dr Who, you went out and bought your own Dalek with your Raw Shark advance. Have you picked up any new sci-fi ephemera lately?
Steven Hall: I haven’t, partly because there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go after you have your own dalek!
BGB: When you were here in Atlanta, you got me listening to the Finnish band Pepe Deluxé. It’s still my go-to disc if I am faced with “I need to be cool” emergency. Do you have any new top-secret bands that I should get hip to?
Steven Hall: I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t call them cool (but that’s good, cool people are often a bit naff, aren’t they?) but I’ve been very much enjoying the Envy and Other Sins album ‘We Leave at Dawn.’ It really is a brilliant piece of work, I think. And the last song, Shipwrecked, could have been written for the Raw Shark movie (if you’re reading this, FilmFour!). Very much worth a listen, I’d say.
Pepe Deluxé – The Mischief of Cloud Six
BGB: Have you started laying the groundwork with your US publisher to make sure that the book tour for “Book Two/Hula Hoop” comes through Atlanta?
Steven Hall: If I tour the States with it, I shall do all in my power to pass through Atlanta. We drank a lot of beer that afternoon, didn’t we?
BGB: Anything else we need to know about while we’re checking in?
Steven Hall: www.steven-hall.org
Through a top secret arrangement that I really can’t talk about, so we’ll really need to keep this between the two of us, ok?, I have a draft of the first few chapters of “Hula Hoop” in my inbox as we speak! What I can tell you, from what I’ve read so far, is that this second novel is going to be an interesting departure from Raw Shark. But remember, mum’s the word.