PDB: What’s going on?
JB: Reading, drinking, being a silly father, reading more, being a trying husband, and… drinking more. Oh, and scribbling and writing — for my sanity and madness; all in perfect balance. Teetering on life’s beautiful edge that’s fueled by all the pre-mentioned that put me there in the first place.
PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?
JB: I’ve had a permanent soundtrack running in my head as long as I remember.
Some tracks are constant; however I do get pests for the day: Russ Abbott’s – ‘Atmosphere’, R Kelly – ‘I believe I Can Fly’, or for some weird-ass reason Richard Blackwood’s – ‘1234 Getin’ with a wicked’ – You’re all welcome by the way!
The constants have accompanied me down the aisle, both in my head and literally played at the time (‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – The Stone Roses). And before taking a leap, needing strength; balls out (‘Force of Nature’ – Oasis). I blame Rhys Ifans and the film ‘Love Honour and Obey’ for this.
Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ is my creative comfort blanket or on-hold music. It’s where my head goes when I block everything else out. This will come clear in my next book: Transference. All four in the coming tetralogy have intentional, multi-layered, single title Joy Division type titles like this.
PDB: What makes you laugh?
JB: Often it’s the things that shouldn’t that do. And the things that should… just don’t.
I frequently don’t realise my reaction and my wife picks me up on it. I often can’t explain the cause of a smile, giggle or involuntary snort that I didn’t realise I was doing, because when I think about it it’s often just plain wrong, absurd or weird. I write some of these down and into stories to distance myself in a way – disowning the filth, dark, weird and absurd. Until next time.
PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?
JB: Holy-fuck-a-saurus – the Holy Grail – if only!!!
An antidote to that pig that ‘shat in our heads’… ‘a bastard behind the eyes’. Sorry, shameless ‘Withnail & I’ Quotes. I was so surprised to learn the best acted drunk (Withnail) was played by a non-drinker (Richard E. Grant). Maybe that’s a clue to the answer though – don’t touch it! Or, if you do, don’t stop and ‘go all the way’ (Bukowski).
I have studied this matter in some detail though and as the years pass the hangovers intensify, and with it so does the need for a cure. So, I’ll share what I’ve gathered so far:
Pre-age 20: the ‘hangover’ doesn’t exist.
Early 20s: a Marlboro and a shit is enough to keep going on (after a midday rise).
Late 20s: a strong coffee, Marlboro and shit (after an early afternoon rise).
Early 30s: cider… ‘ice in the cider’.
Late 30s: cider with ice again. But now a nap is required before yet more cider – cycle is to be repeated as required.
Now: milk thistle (600mg min), N.A.C (N-Acetyl-Cysteine 600mg), vitamin C (500mg min) before starting first drink and another dose repeated before the last drink and bed.
In the future: I’m pretty sure a full-on transfusion, drip and head transplant is going to be required mixed with most of the above.
PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
JB: I’ve been lucky; travelled and visited a lot of places. Pulau Tiga, Pangkor Laut, Gozo, Krakow, Cambodia, Vietnam all stick in the memory. Manchester, Porlock Weir, Edinburgh, Dublin and Newcastle are in my blood, heart and soul though — Bristol seems to be a smorgasbord of all them — I love it. I’ve discovered I need to be near the water or I feel wrong (and not in a good way). Maybe a Viking thing…
PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?
JB: No, I don’t.
I did drink a bucket (maybe 2,3,4…) in Cambodia after visiting Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields. Also fired a colt .45 as an ex Khmer Rouge soldier let the safety off his own pistol as he held a ‘reassuring’ hand on my shoulder. Later that night, after the buckets, we found ourselves in a Cambodian club. Westerners weren’t allowed on the dance floor all at once so we had to take it in turns. Between the rehearsed local Karaoke, dancers, troops, public announcements and fashion parades – I got up alone and the stony-faced locals circled, with another armed guard watching on at my bucket fueled cross between ‘the robot’, Rab C. Nesbit and Ian Curtis.
I ticked a lot off what I could’ve put on a bucket list that trip, and on others since.
The thing is… If I had written a list, it wouldn’t have kept up with what was going on. Life’s a bit like that. Convince yourself to aim for sweet and you could miss the pleasure of the sour. And your taste changes anyway the more, or less, you do.
PDB: What’s on the cards?
JB: Researching and writing the second in the Black Viking P.I. series: Transference. It’s set in Manchester so I’m revisiting it physically and, in the head, to test if it matches memory: the smell, sights… the sounds of it all — I’m savouring it! It’s nice to revisit the idea of the Hacienda again too. It and Factory Records were so fundamental to my creative journey then and now. The next books could be a homage to the city and them — doubt it’ll feel like that to read though.
PDB: Anything else?
JB: I’m currently pondering my first person, present tense style with jumps to the past to give context. Is it in-fact poetic, lyrical, immediate and … right? Or, is it restrictive and switching some readers off… and are they maybe the ones that should be?
‘… with ice?’
Bio: John Bowie grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996.