Tuesday, 23 September 2014

60 Seconds with Polly Trope

Photograph by Joe Palermo
A 90s teenager in Berlin, a Classics graduate in London, an inmate of an American mental institution, a drug addict in New York, a prostitute in London, an eloquent blogger, poet and songwriter, Polly has now published her first book Cured Meat- The Memoirs of Psychiatric Runaway. She divides her time between London and Berlin.

Which work(s) most influenced you when growing up?

A la recherche du temps perdu, and the music of Courtney Love.

Where do you write?

Everywhere, bar the ice rink.

Who or what had the biggest impact on your creative life?

Criticism has changed the course of my creative growth more than once. For better or for worse, I can't un-hear what people say about my work.

Cured Meat is unusual in being both a novel and collection of short stories, and you say readers can start anywhere. Was that a conscious choice of structure or an evolution?

The idea was always at the back of my head, and suddenly it happened.

I've always found this type of book magically sexy, a quirky rarity, a law unto itself, a total mind-bender. Until the last minute, I thought I wouldn't pull it off.

The original question here is “Do you have tropes that you most overuse?” But under the circumstances, I’ll ask if you have anything you regard as a bad writing habit.

All my habits suck -- I don't have time to write, So I take the time out of something else. My job, my social life, my health and fitness, everything gets trashed a little. Especially my hair and make-up.

Let’s talk about the pseudonym. What were your reasons and why did you choose Polly Trope?

Oh, well, how would you feel if you were on the job market and your HR manager googles your name and first of all sees "prostitute", "mental hospital", "drug user"...

This is the heart of the problem: people can't be all they are, and live happily. I've got a whole litany of peer groups giving me a hard time. So I created Polly.

The whole book is based on the erratic and wondrous wanderings of Odysseus. Polytropos is one of Odysseus' epithets, hence "Polly Trope".

How far are you influenced by other media, such as poetry, video or music?

I'm influenced by poetry through its inventive use of language and its ability to convey more meaning than there at first seems to be.

Influenced by music in terms of realizing that there's a lot of beauty in darkness and that even the most unworldly sensations can be achieved through intelligent, creative use of notation. I try to get there with the use of words too.

I interviewed Jeet Thayil about his novel Narcopolis and his years of drug addiction. He said revisiting those memories was the opposite of cathartic. How did you feel while writing about your experiences?

To be honest I don't have a very clear recollection of the time. I relied on journal entries heavily. Indeed it was one of the more depressing things to write, but my whole novel is about making the experiences open for strangers to experience them themselves, rather than focusing on the fact of it being my personal experience that no-one else can have.

Does your creative process operate differently depending on whether you’re in London or Berlin?


What are the advantages of publishing with a small press such as Oneiros Books?

Oneiros Books is a collective of self-published authors. In that sense, I'm more self-published than small press.

You have to think of Oneiros as a music label, but for books. I get a huge kick out of belonging to a group like that and I genuinely love many of the works and projects that have come out of there.

The good thing about self-publishing is that I can write and publish what you want. And I make more money. Not that it's a lot, but it's more than if I, an obscure, foreign, female, young, first-time author, had gone to a publisher and tried to persuade them that my book would be worth their while. I just didn't think the chances of that happening were great, so I never tried.

And it's also amazing to be in touch with your readers, to know who you do it for.

Which book has impressed you most this year?

Legends of the Chelsea Hotel.

Would you tell us what you’re currently working on?

A thing called "fucking princess", it's a blog. It's about life as a woman in a world where womanhood is defined by fashion advertising, where people try to combat age and combat feeling by means of all kinds of mechanical delights, plastic and fake dreams. Barbie meets Pink Floyd at the Truman Show.

You’re often described as a nomad. Where do you want to go next?

To Blackpool. Yes, really.

By JJ Marsh

1 comment:

  1. Plenty of information for 60 seconds. Fascinating!