Lindas Book Obsession Review With MARK A. RAYNER, Author Of “The Fatness”
Interview with Mark A. Raynor and Linda from Lindas Book Obsession
Thank you Mark for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m intrigued by your answers. What a great insight. Thank you for participating in the giveaway on Lindas Book Obsession!
- What was your motivation in writing “The Fatness”?
To help people see that prejudice against the obese is just as wrong as any other kind of oppression. But I wanted to tackle this sensitive and difficult subject with the kind of compassion and humor that you find in the work of Kurt Vonnegut. He is very much my literary hero, and I agree with his take on humanity. We are flawed, but we’re not worthless. It’s the opposite, really. Our flaws make us different, and our differences make us valuable.
But a satire has to be critical, and I think where Vonnegut and I are similar is that we make fun of pretension and large-scale human systems. We’re suspicious of both. Pretension is a symptom of insecurity and the pitfall with it is we humans seem to be susceptible to believing our own lies.
The other major target, as far as I can see, has to be the way that humans are terrible at taking good ideas and turning them into governing principles. The human component seems to always get lost as soon as we scale things up to the level of systems.
1a. Where did the idea come from?
Like many of my framing ideas for a book, this one came to me in a dream, fully formed. I should call it a nightmare, as it was terrifying. I started writing this book as a way to exorcise it from my mind. It’s probably no coincidence I had the dream while I was in the midst of reading The Obesity Myth. It was a challenge to write.
As I mention in the afterword, I’ve struggled with weight issues most of my life, so I found it quite difficult to write a humorous account of what it would be like to be imprisoned for your weight. In truth, I had to stop writing it for a while. I probably started and stopped this project more than any other piece of writing I’ve ever tackled. The first idea went down on paper in 2004, and I didn’t actually have a working draft until 2013. The title, however, was there from the beginning.
When I had that first draft, I did question it. Should I open up this idea? Will some people think it’s actually a good idea?
Despite my worries, I kept writing. In the end I figured I could trust my readers to see it was satire.
- Did you write any of the characters after someone your personally know?
No. There may be bits of personalities that get transferred from real people, but nothing out of whole cloth. The last time I used a real person was in The Fridgularity, in which two contest winners were Tuckerized.
- Is there anything that you would like your readers to come away with after reading your books?
My hope is readers will be affected by the book. My hope, if they’re fat, is for them to feel less alone, to feel less guilty about their physicality. For the non-obese, I hope they get an understanding that nobody WANTS to be fat. It’s not a choice. And it’s NOT just laziness. Many fat people spend their entire lives trying not to be fat. I know that I have.
On a lighter note (pun intended), my goal is to make readers laugh. There are lots of things the book spoofs, and it doesn’t really matter your political affiliations, readers will find something to enjoy. It makes fun of socialism. It makes fun of capitalism. And it makes fun of human foibles. If nothing else, readers should come away with a sense of how absurd our bureaucracies can be, and how even the best intentions can go wildly astray.
- In your down time, do you have any special hobbies or special things that you like to do?
Some of the obvious ones for a writer. I love reading and absorbing stories in other formats like film, gaming and theatre. I also play guitar and sing, though not as much as I’d like to, because that “down time” isn’t as copious as I’d like. Being outdoors and in nature is another special thing that really recharges my batteries. I love vacations where I get a chance to walk all day!
5.What type of genres do you like to read?
This strange thing has happened to me as I grow older and write more. I’ve noticed I read less and less fiction. It gets replaced with non-fiction. It’s almost like my brain is looking for grist for my writing mill. That said, I still enjoy fiction, and my favorite genres are humor, literary fiction, satire, science fiction and the occasional fantasy. (The latter has to be really well-written to hold my attention.) I also enjoy reading short fiction more than I ever have before.
- Do you have plans for a new book, and can you share them with us?
My next project is a science fiction trilogy about global climate change, genetic manipulation, and the concept of “civilization”. I also have plans to write one more book set in Landon, Ontario, featuring Dr. Maximilian Tundra. It will be a satire too. Finally, I have an unfinished novel about the Victorian speculative fiction writer, Emily Chesley, that I really do want to complete some day soon.
- Do any of your previous novels that you have written have anything in common? Which of your books is your favorite?
Absolutely. All of my books are satirical in one form or another. The idea of writing satire never occurred to me when I started— it just kind of snuck up on me and I realized (much later, after I’d had my first play produced) that I was writing satire. It’s the one thing that you can say of most of my work. Underneath all the silly characters, the goofy situations, the broad comedy, the dodgy science fiction, there’s a deep sense that everything should be better. As Nabokov once said, “Satire is a lesson, parody is a game.”
- What is a “typical day” in your life as a writer?
Wailing. Pain. Anguish. Much beating of the forehead against my keyboard. (I go through about two a week — keyboards that is, not foreheads, though my friends have taken to calling me “Qwerty”.) On my writing days, once I get through the self-flagellation part of the process, I drink some coffee or green tea and look for funny pictures to post on my social media feeds. That usually takes about forty minutes or so, and then I’m really ready to get to work — which is when I go for a walk, or play a video game, or do prep for my day job.
Then I have lunch.
- Where can the readers contact you to learn more about you, or ask you questions? (Where would you like readers to contact or connect with you? )
I love to hear from readers! The best place to learn more about me is at my website, which has a longer bio and an extensive, if not complete, bibliography: http://markarayner.com
In terms of connecting, the best spots are: