An Interview with Author Mark Newton
1. Please tell us about your book.
The book tells some of the story of the moon (Luna) and the earth (Gaia), along with those other entities who latterly inhabit the neighbourhood we call the solar system. From there it proceeds to the dawn of Life on earth and how this highly localized manifestation affects, and increasingly occupies, both Gaia and Luna as they try to understand what has come to pass and what it might mean. Latterly, of course, humanity appears; the apogee of Life thus far, and the first emanation of that Life which appears to be sentient. Initially, Gaia and Luna are captivated and amazed by what they understand of us, but as we proceed to dominate Gaia, they both become increasingly confused, and not a little concerned, about the behaviour of this, self-proclaimed, “wise species.”
It seems that sentience and cleverness are not at all guarantors of sagacity; indeed it seems only to come with and astounding number of issues and dichotomies that Luna and Gaia struggle to understand or explain. As we enter into the modern era, and the “Sapiens” start to reach out into space by various means, Gaia and Luna become even more nonplussed. Luna especially becomes increasingly disturbed (not to say obsessed) by what we are getting up to, and precisely what we are doing to her sister, which eventually leads us to the last few years and the denouement of the story.
The source of this idea I can only state as lying in an anger that has been growing in me for a good while regarding our behaviour as a species (see below as well). This crystallised into a definitive notion in early 2019, when it dawned upon me that there has always existed a potential observer, curator, and analyst of everything that has transpired on the Earth since time immemorial: the Moon.
2. What is your creative process like?
Now there’s a question! This is my first completed novel, and so anything I can say pertains only to it and the poetry which I suddenly started to produce as of about Jan 2019. The latter I still have no idea what to do with, nor what, if anything, it might mean. What I understand of “the process” is that it began with a fundamental desire to say something, an emotional urge if you will; an overriding necessity of the sort described by Rilke in “Letters to a young poet”. From there, I just started to write what came to me (at home, on trains, on the terrace of the beer shop next door, etc. etc.), and the story appeared in an essentially linear manner to yield a first draft in about six months. This however, was a long way from what has finally manifested as Gaia and Luna.
At that point, I needed to understand what to try and do with it, whilst still thinking and reworking elements of the story. Not having done anything like this before (at least not to completion), I then started to look into the possibilities that might exist for someone like me to realise what I had come up with in some sort of form, i.e. to say what I wanted to say to an audience wider than that of the friends and colleagues, who I had asked to have a look at what I was writing. I then made the important decision that, no matter how I did this, the one thing I really needed was a good and professional editor.
And with a great deal of serendipity in play, David Haviland replied to an inquiry and a precis of the story. I cannot understate the importance of David’s role as a very incisive editor; one who made me think again about many aspects of what I wanted to say and how to say it, what should be included, and what should not. Aside from taking a chance on a random idea that was sent to him by some bloke for lord knows where, his astute professionalism has played a very significant role in shaping what has eventually made it to the outside world as “Gaia and Luna.”
3. What inspires your work?
As already stated, the major driver for creating this work I can only state as being a significant anger at the ongoing and collective stupidity of the human race in respect of our interactions with each other and the world upon which we live. For my money, this is but one of the bewildering myriad of dichotomies that appear to come with sentience and cleverness; and one that might yet still do for us if we do not radically, and very rapidly, change our ways.
4. What’s on your reading list currently?
I have just finished Emile Zola’s “Nana.” A few years ago, having discovered Mr. Zola and decided I like him very much, I set myself to reading his Rougon-McQuart series in its original language.
I have not decided what is next, but in front of me I have the following: “Pot Bouille,” the next in Zola’s series, Francoise Sagan’s, “Les quatre coins du Coeur,” Amelie Nothomb’s “Soif,” “The charmed wife” by Olga Grushin, a collection of the poetry of Coleridge, Stefan Schweig’s “Chess,” or “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden.
5. Where can we find out more about your work (including social media accounts, author site, etc.)?
As this is my first venture into the literary world, and still have a day job, I have yet to do anything specific in the sense of having some sort of “web presence.” I am also one of those odd people who has never had any desire to engage in the phenomenon known as “social media,” save for those things deemed to be necessary to have in respect of my professional life. Who knows, this state of affairs might have to be revised in the future, but for the moment I see no reason to do so. As such, the only places where anyone can currently find out about what I have produced, and decide whether or not it might have any interest for them, would be Louhailer books, Goodreads, Net-Galley, Amazon, along with a variety of other bookseller’s websites.