Thursday, October 4, 2012

Interview | Rab Swannock Fulton on his new (e-)book Transformation, the writing process and storytelling

Rab and duck
I am lucky to know the wonderful writer and storyteller Rab Swannock Fulton in real life, and we have collaborated and are collaborating on various projects that marry words and visual art (though he could easily illustrate his own work - he drew a goat for the paperback cover of the book we are talking about here). 
Marina: How would you describe your book Transformation? Is it a love story? Erotic fiction? A horror story?

Rab: [laughs] Well, I'm not sure what it is. It does have love and passion and terror as well as a goat. I guess it would be best described as thinly disguised autobiography.

M: Fifty shades of green perhaps?

R: Does that have a goat in it?

M: You also tell stories in live shows (which I highly recommend). Where do those stories come from, and what is the link between your performance work and your written work?

R: Well, the performance work is built round Irish and Scottish stories - or rather my take on them - folk tales, the big myths as well as urban legends. And I also have family stories and my own stories. And then again sometimes somebody in the audience will throw in a comment or a question that just suddenly has me going off on a spontaneous free flow. But the thing is, no matter what kind of story I'm telling or just making up on the spot, there is always a little part of my brain very aware of how important it is to keep the energy and narrative drive of the story up. And that is a skill that I very consciously bring into my written work. It is very easy for writers, when they are on their own, sat in front of the keyboard, to go off on tangents that may have all sorts of delightful word play and metaphors and allusions, but actually do not move the story on. So performing before an audience has definitely helped tighten my prose work.

M: What came first, the storytelling or the writing?

R: Well, in fact I always wanted to be a painter - still do - but couldn't afford the materials, so instead I used words to try and capture images. But the first work was in the form of poetry and it used a lot of Scots as well as English. But I was also communicating in other ways, not least in finding ways to articulate the campaigns I was involved with in Scotland in the run up to devolution.

M: You stayed on Faslane Peace Camp, the anti-nuclear protest site in Scotland.

R: That's right. For just a little over a year. A very educational and inspiring experience, but it left me burnt out, so I came to Ireland to get a bit of rest. Ended up staying. Have been here for nearly fifteen years now.

M: You also edit riskybizzness, the blog set up by NUI Galway's Student Services Health Promotion.

R: Yes. Health Promotion does an incredible amount of work to get students to look after themselves and after their friends. I set the blog up to support that work. It is a mixture of humour and more serious issues as well. But the same goes with the blog as with the storytelling and story writing. Each post has to keep the narrative going and the energy up.

M: What are you reading just now?
R: At the moment I am reading Five Little Ducks every night to my children, which I love. When I'm not with the boys I read or listen to all manners of stories. I've just finished Inkarna, a wonderfully weird and wild novel by Nerine Dorman, and at the moment I am listening to a recording of the incredible storyteller Clare Murphy called 'Live At Jonesborough National Storytelling Festival 2011'.

M: Any advice?

R: Watch out for goats!

Rab's e-novel Transformation is now available on amazon. The Galway City Tribune described it as "a dark, supernatural story that manages to make you cry, laugh and scare you to bits."

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