mahabis ambassador // david whitehouse, author
In between the promotion of his latest book, Mobile Library, we caught up with author David Whitehouse and asked him a few questions about how he chooses to unwind. Working from home, balancing publishing with increasing admin work, and procrastinating wildly with mahabis on...
David's mahabis of choice: larvik dark grey with skien black soles, check them out here.
Tell us a bit about your latest book…
It's called Mobile Library and it's the story of a young boy and a woman who elope together, escaping from some pretty terrible things in their lives, to have an extraordinary adventure - the kind that normal people think will never happen to them. Along the way, she becomes the most wanted woman in Europe. It's about escapism, love and family, and some other things besides.
Your novel ‘Bed’ has been described as a thoughtful commentary on strange experience, a ‘magnifying glass on contemporary society’. What was the inspiration behind the plot, and what were you looking to critique?
Bed is about a man who goes to bed and never gets out again. The initial idea was born of apathy. We're an apathetic society. When you consider the truths of injustices we're faced with every day, we should be out on the streets in our millions in protest. There should be revolution. There should be burning effigies of tax evaders. But we're not. We're at home, on the sofa, tweeting jokes we've thought of while watching The X Factor. So Bed was built around the idea of what apathy would look like in extremis. What would happen if we literally did nothing, nothing at all. How quickly would the world crumble?
video: BED by David Whitehouse - UK trailer Dir: James Lees from James Lees on Vimeo.
What was the first thing you did when you finished the final sentence of your latest book?
I went back to the start again. It never really ends. I read and rewrite every line so many times that there isn't a first one or a last one, in my head. I suppose, terrifyingly, writing is a process without end. When I do readings at festivals and things now, I am still rewriting those sentences in my mind as I say them aloud. It's a feeling of constantly wondering if you've left the gas on.
When you reach a writer’s block, how do you renew your creativity?
I barely do it, but going on holiday and reading a lot works. Nothing makes you want to write like not writing. Writer's block isn't a loss of creativity. It's more like the yips - a loss of fine motor skills without real explanation. The ideas are still there. the ability to get them onto the page is what has disappeared.
With an advert on a double decker bus paraded down the German autobahn, and your book translated in multiple different languages…. are there any territories you haven’t touched on yet, but would like to?
I've been published in Japan but have never been there and would love to go, likewise South Korea. I'm just happy to be published anywhere to be honest. I'm very interested in North Korea, but I'm not sure my books are on message for Kim Jong Un.
photo: 'bed' around the world, a selection of the novel's multiple covers
Three random picks from your bookshelf. Go.
I just looked up and the first three I saw were - The Stanley Kubrick Archives published by Taschen, which is a giant beautiful book that doesn't fit on any shelves, Modern Toss: A Decade in the Shithouse, which is the funniest book I've ever read, and All Involved by Ryan Gatiss, which blew my tiny mind.
Talk us through your typical day as a writer…
When you publish a novel it creates more work. There is a strange amount of admin and emails and stuff to be done when you're a writer. So I spend an hour or two doing that. Then I read what I wrote the day before and edit that for an hour or two. Then I spend the rest of the day writing new stuff, which may or may not be deleted the next morning. It's a solitary lifestyle, and I find that on some days when I finish I'm in a very strange mood. I can't concentrate on anything or stop thinking about the story. I'm atrocious company, when I'm in the thick of it.
Where do you find it easiest to work?
At home. I can't write in cafes or on trains. I need to be able to procrastinate wildly without anyone seeing me.
How important is downtime to you?
Massively important, but in a weird way, all time feels the same to me.
I'm either writing or not writing, but I am always thinking about it, I'm never away from it, and I love it. All time is downtime when work doesn't feel like work.
Describe your ultimate downtime- the ideal way you’d choose to unwind…
I'd eat three meals a day in great restaurants if I could. I unwind by going to the cinema. I'm great at doing nothing and never really get bored. In an ideal world I'd be doing that somewhere beautiful and remote. The Maldives for instance, with some books to read, films to watch, wine to drink and a bed to sleep in.
If you had a 25th hour in the day, how would you spend it?
I'd probably waste it.