Courttia Newland speaks with Catherine O'Flynn about childhood inspiration from TV and music, his doubts about diversity initiatives in publishing and the threads linking his work across different media and genres.
It's not so much individual works of literature that transform, as Literature itself; the great smorgasbord of these vividly imagined, precisely delineated worlds, the astonishing was a book can hold you.
The writers who first deeply influenced me were the Modernists; Woolf, Pound, Eliot, H.D. All working the edges of meaning, re-imagining form and image, experimenting.
One driver waits, as if for traffic lights to change. Behind the wheel, she meditates, believes the road will clear if she sits this out. Another makes a u-turn, screeches away.
The task of reading is to form an order from this confusion; to arrange these influences into a new beginning.
I would take a leaf out of Achebe's own classic novel Things Fall Apart, in which the final paragraph switches perspective from an African to a European one. I would switch the European to an African perspective in a rewrite of Conrad's novella.
I learned to drive power boats for cruise ships in Antarctica to earn time to write; in a few years I had changed into a person who forgets other people don't do this.