The Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #18
Transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI
My amanuensis Derwent Klopovicki has a new book and he insists I interview him. Said he’d leave my employ if I didn’t, and to be honest it’s hard to find a good dog’s body nowadays. So here goes nothing.
SS: So Dolphin, I can’t wait to hear about your new book. Tell us about it. (Yawns extravagantly.)
DK: My name’s Dmetri actually.
SS: Dmetri Actually. That’s a funny name. Are you going to tell us about your new book or am I going off to masturbate?
DK: I’m surprised you can get it up at your age.
SS: Flattery will get you nowhere. Tell us about The Boor.
DK: It’s called The Door and Other Uncanny Tales, and it’s collection of two gothic novellas and four short stories. It’s published by the US based NineStar Press and it’s available online and in bricks and mortar bookstores.
DK: What do you mean is that all?
SS: How long has it been since your first book came out—was it called Motherfucker?
DK: Mother Land was released in 2008. It’s a memoir—
SS: Over a decade ago and you only produced six measly stories in that time. You must be one of those lazy Greeks who lie on Mediterranean beaches, diddling goats when you should be working.
DK: When wit fails resort to national stereotypes and cliches.
SS: Why not? Greeks are a bunch of sybarites. No wonder the country is going down the gurgler. Had their day 2000 years ago, done fuck all since. They should have became Turks. At least the Turks know the meaning of hard work. And wiping out ethnic and religious minorities. But that’s another story.
DK: Please, what do you know about work?
SS: Excuse me, I did a bit of work … once. In 1921. It was exhausting. Still recovering.
DK: Can we get back to the topic at hand?
SS: Everything isn’t about you, Dolores.
DK: In this instance, it is. Ask a question about The Door.
SS: Now let me see… (Scratches head.)
SS: I wasted no time in reading your fascinating little tome.
DK: That means no. And the name is Dmetri. Not Dolores.
SS: That’s what I said, Dracula. So why do you write spooky stories?
DK: I prefer the term gothic. I don’t set out to scare people when I write.
SS: No, they just have to look at your face for that. (Laughs.)
DK: With these psychological ghost stories, I’m interested in destabilizing the reader and making them question the nature of perception and reality. Is fantasy another kind of reality?
SS: It is for drag queens.
DK: For me the stories in this book are dark fairy tales for adults. They take us into subterranean aspects of human nature.
SS: Talking about fairies, you’re one of those homosexualists, aren’t you?
DK: That’s a quaint term. Nowadays we say ‘queer’ or ‘gay’.
SS: Are you a gay writer? Is this a gay book?
DK: No and no. That’s what I’m trying to say, if you’d listen for a moment, instead of interrupting.
SS: Yes, yes, hurry up. It’s almost martini o’clock and I’m getting bored.
DK: What is a gay writer? What constitutes a gay book? Last time I looked books didn’t have genitalia or sexual proclivities.
DK: I am a writer and this is a book. That’s all that needs to be said about it. The only criteria should be quality. We don’t classify books by heterosexual authors as ‘straight books’ and ‘straight literature’. Why do it to homosexuals, or people from different ethnic backgrounds? I find terminology like this reductive. Why categorize and box an artist? We should be widening the scope, not narrowing it.
SS: If I wanted a lecture I would have asked for one. Geez, sensitive or what?
DK: As some booksellers have noted, only two stories in my book have openly gay male characters. The rest have heterosexual female protagonists or children of both sexes.
SS: Me thinks you protest too much, Diego.
DK: I just don’t want to be limited, as a person and as a writer. I’m in favor of plurality, pulling in diverse experience, rather than excluding.
SS: You’d be a complete failure with the cultural appropriation crew.
DK: Don’t get me started on that. The protagonist in Haunting Matilda is a little girl and her rescuer is an Australian Indigenous woman. The Long Lonely Road is set on the Turkish island where I was born and the protagonist is a Muslim boy—
SS: Does he blow himself up on a crowded bus?
DK: I wish you’d blow up. The Long Lonely Roadis based on an urban myth I grew up hearing when I was a child in Turkey. In reinterpreting it, I draw on two different sources from my own background: Greek myth and Middle Eastern religion and fable. The main novella, The Door, and its prequel, In The Dark, uses Aeschylus’s Oresteia as a leaping-off point but it’d set in urban Melbourne.
DK: No, you idiot, he was an ancient Greek tragedian. The point is that these are not typical genre pieces. I bring a different perspective to the conversation. One I hope readers will appreciate.
SS: What does the future look like for Demarera Kleptomania?
DK: I finished a gothic fantasy novel set in central Australia. That’s with a publisher at the moment.
DK: I’m writing a crime novel now…
DK: …and of course you and I will start work on your memoirs soon.
À bientôt, mes amies.
The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker (his father) and a Greek bear wrestler (his mother). He has lived in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently stateless. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and nine packets of Gauloises cigarettes a day.
Dmetri Kakmi is a writer and editor. His first book, Mother Land, was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia, and his new book, The Door, will be released in September 2020.