Did you anticipate that your website would become so popular?
I am not speaking boastfully when I say it did not surprise me. There was a need that no-one else was filling and I stepped into the gap. As soon as I realised there was not yet a website about Roy Orbison being wrapped up in clingfilm I saw the opportunity. I wrote to Google to check their machine was not broken and then set to work.
When did you realise you wanted to specialise in Roy Orbison In Cling-film stories?
Oh, at a very early age. I remember telling a Careers Teacher that this was my ambition some time in my teens, and he replied, carefully, 'Also.' Sadly he was unable to direct me to any college courses pointing in that direction.
So I was forced to blaze my own trail and there were many nay-sayers and those who sought to deter me from my dream. I was disappointed by my father's reaction in particular, for he had always taught me that one must specialise in order to be prosperous. But when I told him the field I intended to specialise in, he too responded, 'Also.' And then, 'I have no son.'
Is Roy your favourite singer, or is he just your favourite person to wrap in cling-film?
The second. That he also happens to be my favourite singer is just a happy coincidence. Even if he was a deaf-mute he would still be the most wrappable person I have ever seen. Although in that case it would be harder to know if he consented to be wrapped. And one could not make topical small-talk with him to help pass the time. On the whole it would be in poor taste to wrap either a deaf-mute or an Italian in clingfilm as they cannot talk without moving their hands.
In what way is writing a novel different to writing short stories?
In a novel one must contrive to stay one step ahead of the reader, there must always be another surprise up your sleeve. It helps, I find, if you can manage to surprise yourself. So while I have a carefully-constructed plot I always leave room for improvisation. For example, in the scene where we are faced with the necessity of creating a disguise so as to slip past some menacing gangsters, I had absolutely no idea until I wrote it down that the obvious way out of that predicament was for Roy Orbison to be wrapped in clingfilm. Those are the moments I live for as a writer.
But stories and novels are both equally arduous in their own way. I would compare it to the difference between building a cathedral and founding your own city.
What inspires you?
Everything and anything. The most important duty of a writer is to keep his eyes open. The slightest thing may spark me off. For example the other day I was watching the children playing in the park. There was one little fellow who wished to play on the swings, but the bigger children would not let him. They hogged the swings and kept jeering at him and pushing him away. But he was not deterred from his dream and just stood there waiting patiently for his turn. It was so moving to behold, his quiet determination, his huge eyes fixed on the gaily-painted swing that was all he had to hope for of heaven. And then at length his tormentors left, and silently he seated himself on the contraption and started to swing, swing, swing for his very life. Then he went flying off and banged his head.
And I stood there musing on what I had beheld and I thought, 'What if Roy Orbison became a trapeze artist? And what if some jealous rival stole the safety net while he was engaged in his mid-air shenanigans? What could be more natural than for some diligent bystander to improvise one from clingfilm? And what if he then, as mischance would have it, fell into its warm embrace?'
Do you have any good luck talismans with you when you write, or any rituals you must go through?
On my desk I have a rollerskate which once belonged to Marcel Proust which a tinker sold to me. I spin the wheels and incant, 'May the same fire guide my pen.' I also keep my terrapin Jetta near me, of course. Once, she crawled onto Proust's roller skate out of curiosity, and then slid off the desk when I forgetfully lifted the lid up to search for something. She cold-shouldered me for weeks.
But it is dangerous to become enamoured of rituals. The muse may bite at any moment and when she does you must jump to it wherever you are. I have sometimes got into trouble at work by jotting down ideas for stories and fragments of dialogue on important memos and financial reports and so forth. Once this resulted in a bank I worked for spending a billion Euros cornering the market in clingfilm. Another time my boss Herr Blumenkohl startled his shareholders and caused much unease on the financial markets by giving a speech which began, 'I have a dream of the future, a vision of joy, a man in black comes to me and I swaddle him in polymers and croon to him like a mother.'
You’ve written a story about wrapping Roy in space, and a section of the novel is set in Ancient Egypt. Do you find it more challenging to set your stories outside of Dusseldorf?
No, it is neither more nor less difficult, for the fact is any great writer is faced with the task of recreating the whole world in his mind's eye, his own neighbours no less than the scariest foreign savage. So you see, I have imagined Dusseldorf the same way I have imagined the sandy splendours of Ancient Egypt or the starry wastes of outer space. In fact I leave the house as little as possible so as to keep my imagined Dusseldorf intact, also because I am scared of gypsy squatters sneaking down the chimney while I am out.
In Chapter 13 you are faced with the possibility of having to wrap Jim Morrison in cling-film and the thought is a terrible one - who would be the worst person in the world to wrap in cling-film and why?
Eli Wallach who played the Mexican bandit in 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly'. He scares me and I would not wish to go near him. Fortunately he does not live in Dusseldorf so I do not have to do so. I pity his neighbours.
My ex-wife was the worst person I have actually wrapped as she protruded in strange places and objected to wearing dark glasses, and also did not stand still but ran away and did not come back and then instituted complicated legal proceedings.
Would you consider writing Roy Orbison In Cling-film: The Musical? The sequence where you are lost in the backstreets of Dusseldorf would make for wonderful choreography.
Yes, that is a rather balletic and unbearably beautiful scene. I have tried to write a musical version although I thought more along the lines of an opera. Unfortunately I have found there are few rhymes for clingfilm. In fact the only one I have been able to think of is bing-film, as in:
When I wrap Roy Orbison in Clingfilm
I feel I am on The Road To Utopia, just like that Bob and Bing film
Moreover there are no rhymes whatsoever for Orbison, apart perhaps from the German word 'schlangenwildenochsennaturwissenschaftlichkitzelnvorbissen', which means 'one who sexually excites wildebeests for research purposes' and is therefore inappropriate for a family musical.
I may farm the idea out to Stephen Sondheim, perhaps he can do better.
Of all the Roy in Cling-film stories submitted to you by other writers, which has been your favourite and why?
Hmm, let me muse. A Martin Amis submitted a very accomplished one in which Roy is wrapped up and then has his teeth kicked in by an urchin named Keith. I did not post it on the website as it was too disturbing. On the whole I think my favourite is the first one as it features my terrapin Jetta.
Is there a second novel planned, and if yes, will there be any recurring characters?
I have ideas for a second novel but am unsure if there is a need. Should a masterpiece have a sequel? There is not a War and Peace 2, you know. In the event of a second novel Roy Orbison, myself, and my terrapin Jetta would certainly recur and I think at least one other character to be announced. I am currently working on a sort of novella which may appear on my website at some point in the future, but it has a twist, it is something of a departure from my previous work. However it will feature Roy Orbison being wrapped up in clingfilm.
[*NB this was the Roy Orbison in Clingfilm Adventure Game, now open to visitors - Ul]
If Roy was still alive to read the book, do you think he would like it?
What? What are you saying? I do not understand. What is this 'still alive'? You seem to imply that Roy is not alive. You make me uneasy. My palms sweat. Is this some anglo-saxon humour, suggesting that Roy is dead? I do not like it, that is not a tasteful joke.
Have you considered patenting your idea for bullet-proof cling-film? That way the military will reimburse you if they decide to develop it.
In fact I have written to the military offering to help develop this idea. I am no molecular scientist (my training was in catering) but it seems to me like childsplay. At the very least, a wrapping of many, many layers may be able to slow down a bullet or deflect shrapnel. I have suggested to the military that they provide me with a modest budget for clingfilm and several Special Forces agents, who would naturally be dressed in black and wear dark glasses as befits their covert and snidey tasks, to act as guinea pigs for my researches. They have not replied as yet.
My patent is still pending however, as is the one for my idea for a roll of clingfilm which will never ever run out. I am not sure how this could be accomplished either but the benefits to lighthouse-keepers alone seem obvious.
Which is most important to you: critical acclaim or sales figures?
I think on the whole I would rather have sales figures, to bring my message to a wider audience. I have anyway given up hope of obtaining proper critical recognition within my lifetime. The Nobel Prize for Literature is of course within the iron grip of the Swedish Academy. I do not wish to speak impolitely about the Swedes but those bloodless Volvo-polishers do not have a millilitre of romance or poetry within them. Do you know what the Swedish word for clingfilm is? Aas-schvunk. That tells you all you need to know about those people.
They are so uptight and regimented it is pitiful. Why don't they live a little? I do not care for Nazis but it is amusing to me that Sweden is the one place we did not bother to invade in those days, it was too boring to go to, I think every time Hitler read 'Sweden' on the map he fell asleep.
But I am not bitter. My day will come. When I am dead, yes, perhaps then those reindeer molesters will stop fondling their Ikea units and put away their Abba CDs and crawl out of their little igloos and pay some attention.
She is fine, although currently it is terrapin mating season and I am having to pour buckets of icy water over armies of her admirers scratching at my door.
Now that she is a celebrity, has she made any unreasonable diva-like demands?
Frankly she has always made diva-like demands, although nothing to compare to the unreasonable and quite surprising demand my ex-wife made of me on our honeymoon night.
But yes, she has become more temperamental since I started reading out her fanmail. She seems to grow dissatisfied with her bedroom more regularly and consequently I have had to redecorate it three times already this year, once with Ikea furniture even though she knows full well I am boycotting Sweden. Previously she enjoyed several television programmes but now she likes best to gaze into the television when it is switched off and she can see her own reflection. I think she meditates a TV career. Furthermore when we are out shopping she keeps craning her head towards Cartier's but so far I have ignored the implication that I should buy her a diamond collar although I admit it would look adorable.
How does it make you feel when your cling-film gets tangled and sticks together? It makes me absolutely mad, especially when it’s the last bit on the roll.
Thanks to long years of study and practise this rarely happens to me. It is vexing when it does. But madness seems an extreme reaction. Surely it only takes a few moments to walk to your designated clingfilm-room and select a new roll?
Back to my Roy Orbison in Clingfilm website