‘We’re surprised by the contents of our minds’

Will Self
Will Self
Jon Richardson 'Old Man'. Picture by Andy Hollingworth

REVIEW: Jon Richardson at The Kings Theatre, Southsea

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Having built a reputation as one the country’s most experimental writers, Will Self has become synonymous with the unusual.

Having built a reputation as one the country’s most experimental writers, Will Self has become synonymous with the unusual.

The 53-year old has recently been working on the last book in a trilogy he has written. This follows Umbrella, nominated for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and Shark, which has seen Will travel around the country and brings him to the Havant Literary Festival.

The writer will be reading an extract from Shark and discussing current projects at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre in Havant tomorrow at 8pm.

Will says that performing at this year’s festival will be like a home-coming, as his family originated from the area.

‘The south has a great culture, it is a great source of literature, and Havant and Portsmouth is at the centre of this weird underbelly of the country.

‘I take great pride in doing these readings. I enjoy doing all the different voices, as it is a way of really keeping the audience’s focus, rather than someone just sat there talking at you about their work and the book they have written.’

Will may be better known for his appearances on panel shows such as Shooting Stars and Have I Got News For You than his literary back catalogue. But writing is his main vocation, having also been a newspaper columnist.

The trilogy looks at different aspects of the human psyche and how it can be perceived in the modern era alongside the progression of technology.

This is a subject that is very close to the writer’s heart – he is a Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University.

As he speaks, Will’s passion for the subject is clear for all to see.

‘I think for everyone there are times when we are surprised by the contents of our own minds. It’s almost as if something appears and we don’t know where it has come from.

‘I think this has helped me develop an experimental literary technique.

‘The third book is still being planned and I’m not sure how it will pan out, but I look to incorporate this “what if” sort of scenario in all my writing.

‘In this case, it might be what if major human technological innovation was mirrored by individual diseases and people were so affected by these diseases on both a physical and mental level trying to get a grip with new technology.’

An Audience With Will Self takes place at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant on October 11 at 8pm. Tickets: £9-10, visit thespring.co.uk

TIM BIRKBECK