Once described by Mark Twain as “an unhappy invention”, interviews are in some ways a strange form of media. Not quite entirely formal; but never truly casual, these recorded conversations between subject and interviewer have the potential to stray from banal, scripted and pre-recorded Q&As to existential, winding, in-depth and revealing verses.
Strange as they may be – perhaps occupying a space between spontaneous and prepared conversational performance – interviews are one of the few tools available to us that can still spark new ideas and uncover unique perspectives in an instant. As a tool for conjuring creative thinking, there are few better.
As we at Nothing in the Rulebook endeavour to support and promote creativity in all its forms, then, interviews are a crutch upon which we are proud to lean on.
Since we launched our creative collective in 2015, we have been honoured to interview writers, artists, photographers, comedians, film directors and entrepreneurs.
In our ‘Creatives in profile’ interview series, you can read our detailed discussions and conversations with them all.
Creatives in profile
We have collated all our interviews here below. Keep an eye out for more interviews as we publish them. Happy reading, comrades!
Akoto is the founder and publisher in chief of Litro Magazine. He also curates and comperes at literary festivals including Latitude and Hay.
“Ultimately, nothing can replace the smell of a printed book.”
Ben Armstrong is a poet from the West Midlands, UK, who specialises in surrealist, hyper-real and absurdist pieces. His debut collection Perennial is out now through Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.
“We’re living in an age of pastiche. This is the first time that our entire existence as human beings has become self-referential. It feels like we’re finally letting go of the concept of ‘time’ – the whole thing has just become delineated.”
Arnstein is an actor, writer and musician from the Midlands. Her two solo shows have both won Show of the Week at VAULT Festival, with her most recent show, Sexy Lamp winning The Pick of Pleasance Award.
“We need more female voices in every area of the industry; but particularly when it comes to making the decisions of what gets made.”
Paul M.M. Cooper
Cooper’s début novel River of Ink was one of the largest literary book deals at the London Book fair. He has written for websites and magazines, working as an archivist, editor and journalist.
“Artists around the world are currently struggling beneath autocratic regimes, and their art is often the mode they use to express their dissent.”
Dastidar’s poetry and reviews have been published in the Financial Times, Tate Modern and the Times Literary Supplement, amongst many others.
“Don’t send your first draft: it won’t be ready. I guarantee it. If it takes 8, 16, 20 drafts to get a poem right, then take that long. This is a patient game. And the poem will wait for you.”
A former Fleet Street journalist, Devlin writes for the Irish Times and was named their National News Columnist of the Year. Her ambitious fiction, including About Sisterland, The House Where it Happened and Truth and Dare covers a wide range of genres and themes.
“I love the characters who spring from my fingertips […] honestly, sometimes – on a good day – characters just muscle in unexpectedly. And I say to myself, well who are you?”
Dodson’s photographic work has been used by organisations from the BBC to Pearson. Cutting his teeth as a copywriter and editor, he has written for Time Out, Viz and Private Eye, as well as the Metro newspaper.
“The great thing about technology now is that it has made everyone a photographer. The problem with technology now is that it has made everyone a photographer.”
Will Eaves is a novelist, poet and teacher. Arts Editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1995 to 2011, his books have, variously, been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, the Ted Hughes Award for Poetry and the BBC National Short Story Prize.
“Writing a book – and perhaps especially a book about a dreadful transfiguration – is a little like having a protracted fit. Once it’s over, there’s no way to retrieve the feverish actuality of the creative moment. Thank God.”
Winner of various international writing awards, Elkes is currently working on a debut short story collection and a novel. As a writer with a rural working class upbringing, his work often reflects marginalised voices and liminal places.
“I don’t think it is ethical for a writer to create ethical responsibilities for other writers – they need to deal with their own shit.”
Extra Secret Podcast
Shhh, it’s a secret!
“We don’t advertise. It’s tough to reach a vast audience without dumping a ton of money into it. Good content will propel the show forward. Ultimately if you’re trying to do a podcast to get famous, have a million listeners…you’re doing it wrong.”
Forster is an author, non-fiction writer, journalist and publishing professional. She is also a mentor for writers at the Literary Consultancy.
“I believe that the crucial thing when writing an initial draft is not to judge yourself or your writing. Believe in yourself in epic proportions.”
Gillis is a writer, actor and director. His debut film, ‘SINK’ has been produced by Oscar-winner Mark Rylance and has received critical acclaim.
“I think the current ease with which the fundamental structures of democracy are being dismantled is terrifying […] I guess it’s down to us to speak up.
Co-founder of award-winning original comedy production company, Pondering Media, Karen is an actor, comedian, and social activist.
“Even if you’re dying on stage every night, just keep getting up there and doing it, you will eventually find your voice.”
The other half of Pondering Media, Michael is a writer and director.
“If the audience can’t walk in and get a strong impression of you and your work right away, you’re wasting your time.”
Henningham Family Press
Henningham Family Press (HFP) is the collaborative art and writing of David and Ping Henningham. HFP combines writing and art through fine art printmaking, bookbinding and performance.
“There’s no point having an experimental writing scene populated by wealthy people from a single school.”
Anne Beate Hovind
Oslo native, entrepreneur and public art professional, Anne Beate Hovind is the curator of the world-famous ‘Future Library’ project.
“If you’re not curious about something, how can you have the passion for it, how can you find that energy?”
Asher Jay is an acclaimed designer, artist, writer, and environmental activist.
“Look around you though, everything is life, there is nothing on this planet untouched by it. So I love life; I love all life on earth! […] because we are all the same when we breathe, when we allow ourselves to just be.”
Tim Leach is an historical fiction author and creative writing teacher. His debut novel, The Last King Of Lydia, was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas prize.
“What is ‘reality’? I think that we are creatures of narrative, it’s how we understand and process the world. We tell stories to survive, and the stories that we tell become our reality.”
Named as one of the ’50 Funniest People on Twitter’, Sean Leahy has built quite the following on the Twittershphere as @thepunningman. Appearing on Buzzfeed, Comedy Central, The Poke, Huffington Post, Funny or Die and TimeOut (among others), he has recently published his debut children’s book, The Monster Cafe via award-winning publishers Unbound.
“Write all the time. Write again. Read it back, twice. You’re never finished.”
Litten is the author of “Scream If You Want To Go Faster”, “Swear Down” and “Kingdom”. His short stories have appeared in various international magazines and he has written for the screen and radio.
“I don’t particularly like post-modernism that much. I find it a bit tiresome and unhelpful. I like sincerity and stuff that’s from the heart.”
Maloney is the author of three novels, First Time Solo, Silma Hill and The Waves Burn Bright and has been shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize and the Dundee International Book Prize.
“As writers, we have an ethical responsibility to engage honestly with our stories, with our subjects, not to shy away because a handful of people won’t agree.”
One of the most exciting new talents to hit the poetry scene in recent years, McMillan’s debut collection, Physical, was the first ever poetry collection to win The Guardian First Book Award.
“I think all artists always wish they were proficient at something else, but I have no other skills, I can only write (and most days I can barely do that).”
No Alibis Press
Based in a small corner of Belfast, No Alibis Press is a small publishing company with a big shouty attitude.
“Find a way to make your work unfamiliar as you redraft – writers’ techniques include printing out work, changing the font, reading aloud. The aim is to read it as though for the first time.”
Widely regarded as one of the leading artists of her generation, Paterson’s work collapses the distance between the viewer and the most distant edges of time and the cosmos.
“I love the idea that you need to plan hundreds of years ahead for something to last or exist; it seems the antithesis of the current mode. Instead we live in a ‘one click’ world.”
Twice-recipient of The Foyle Young Poets Award, Potts has been published by Agenda, Aesthetica and The Poetry Business, while her radio plays have also appeared on the BBC.
“Quite frankly, I think the world is creeping dangerously close to repeating those centuries of war and hatred it said it would leave behind. It makes a mockery of those who died for the sake of democracy; for gender and racial equality; for decency; for rights.”
Joana Ramiro is a journalist, writer and political commentator who has been featured on Channel 4 News, BBC and LBC radio, as well as debates against fellow pundits Peter Oborne, Michael White and Peter Hitchens.
“The role of a journalist at any time is to speak truth to power. To me that means looking at the balance of forces and asking yourself “Who is being exploited, oppressed, or used in this situation?” and then write about it.”
Nicholas Rougeux is a Chicago-based web-developer, data visualisation and concept artist.
“Stick with what you love doing. It sounds cliché but it’s true. There isn’t one guaranteed way to get what you want but if you keep doing what you enjoy, things tend to happen naturally.”
Helen Rye’s searing pieces of flash and short fiction have been nominated for numerous prestigious literary awards since she arrived on the short story scene in 2016.Se
“Nobody wants to read preachy writing, but sometimes what drives us to write is an unbearable sense of injustice, or the suffering of other people.”
In the spirit of all good interviews, Nothing in the Rulebook first encountered Señor Samba on a chilly night in central London, dancing in a group apparently gripped by some shared disco-infused hysteria and shouting half-correct lyrics of classic disco tunes at unsuspecting tourists.
“I’ve been angry. Angry at the state of the world, angry at the state of my life, angry at the state of myself. The best way to combat anger is with love. Self-love, love of others. Play, joy, passion, and love.”
Ian Sansom is the author of the popular Mobile Library Mystery Series. He is also a frequent contributor and critic for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The London Review of Books, and The Spectator. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4.
“Like most writers, I am incredibly lazy and try to avoid all research if at all possible. If it’s necessary, I will do what’s necessary.”
Scraton is a writer and editor based in Germany. His fiction debut is ‘Built on Sand’.
“The deeper question is, why do we as society not value art and music and literature in a way that means that artists, musicians and writers can live from their work? Because the danger is that the majority of voices we will hear will increasingly come from a privileged minority, those who can afford, one way or the other, to “pursue their passions”.
Author, photographer and designer Matthew Smith is the founder of London publishing house Wundor Editions.
“The internet is great for seeking out specific pieces of information and for communication, but after prolonged periods it wears away at your concentration and offers little in the way of sustenance.”
Comic book writer, essayist and author of speculative fiction, Josh Spiller discusses everything from story writing to taking on corporate power structures.
“I think Star Wars a far stranger creation than I think most people perceive it as; with its bizarreness obscured beneath its patina as the pre-eminent popcorn blockbuster.”
Justin Sullivan is a singer and songwriter; the founding member and lead singer of New Model Army. Formed in 1980 to play two gigs, 14 studio and four live albums later they are still going strong.
“Political poetry and music rarely change people’s minds but what they can do is give focus and clarity to a half-thought and, most importantly, make people aware that they’re not alone in how they feel about the World.”
Dr Chuck Tingle
Erotic author and Tae Kwon Do grandmaster, with a PhD from DeVry University in holistic massage. Dr Chuck Tingle is an almost mythical figure.
“being creative is just being yourself and trotting with YOUR OWN unique way. just waking up in the morning and stetching your bones is creative because every moment is making infinate timelines.”
Thomas is editor of The Willows Magazine, author of The Cradle and the Sword, creator of TheStrangeContinent.com, and founder of the neuroscience news agency The Connectome.
“words are magic, aren’t they? When we present a compelling argument or conjure an imaginary scene in someone else’s mind, we’re quite literally casting spells: shaping our own (and others’) perceptions of reality through the verbal evocation of ideas. I can’t imagine a more delightful or rewarding trade to be in.”
David Turner is a poet and founder of Lunar Poetry Podcast – which features discussions, interviews and live recordings with poets in the UK and further afield.
“I’m attracted to the idea of building a platform that provides a space for writers , to talk about their creative process.”
First founded in East London, The Ultra is a band that likes to experiment and create interesting emotive music that captures memorable hooks and melodies.
“I think that there is a ‘battle’ against the independent artist and the big corporations for exposure and to make an impact.”
Shortlisted as Emerging Publisher of the Year by the Saltire Society, Laura Waddell writes reviews of fiction, a book column, articles, and short fiction and poetry.
“Art is about communicating, and what is communicated forms the landscape we live in – what we can expect or demand from our politics, the perspectives we read, the stories that are told and on the record throughout history.”