Author Ashley Borodin released his debut novel, The Jealous Flock, last month. If you would like to read it for FREE, he is giving away copies in exchange for an honest review.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name’s Ashley and just to be clear I don’t expect to be called Zim or Zir. My name, in its various permutations, was a popular boys name in Australia in the late 70’s. There were three of us in my highschool year-level, making it the most popular name in the school I think.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Australia, in the southern, and least deadly bit called Victoria. At the moment I’m in the process of moving back there from Tasmania, which is even more southern.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
This is a tough one to answer. I’ve always been capable of writing but seldom motivated. In school and later in life various writers with a strong mind, with powerful ideas have goaded me, taunted me into putting my own will to paper. I think the final two voices that lead to my actually writing a novel were Bukowski and Ballard. If you’re reading my work and looking for similarities, for a sort of provenance, then I think those two could be considered the fathers of The Jealous flock. I’m thinking in particular of Bukowski’s poems and Ballard’s Millenium People.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m not sure I do. And judging by the muted response I get to my pleas to be taken seriously, I’m not sure anyone else does either. But if being a writer means struggling to be heard above the din and persevering in the face of inevitable and constant rejection, then I started to feel like a writer about two weeks ago. That’s when I really started to stop being a writer and start being my own publicist.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
The character of Randall in The Jealous Flock is a thinly veiled version of me. I’m also in all the other characters, especially when they are observing the peculiarities of others – that’s my Outsider’s view on the world.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?
I have two ideas in the works. One is a coffee table book of my best poems and the other is a novel about an orphaned boy who is one of the Lost Children:
Here’s an excerpt:
Morris hurried down the crumbling rock. The passageway grew dim and soon the next corner would cut all light, but he dared not use his torch. It was the corner after that, the one with the drop, and only then after a thorough check would he even think about lighting the way.
The dogs were angry. Scurrying eggs catapulted them toward the tunnel entrance and soon they too were slipping awkwardly on the rocks. One hit the wall and yelped. That gave the second pause, but not before he’d already collided with his sister and the two had become tangled on the sharp rocks. Each yelped in turn and tried to get their bearings.
But the boy was gone.
As they nosed the air, only silence and dusty breath met their senses. It was over. The chase was at an end.
There would be consequences.
How do you conceive your plot ideas?
Things that have an impact on me emotionally, events or stories I relate to. I suppose I make finding a way through my own grief, my own story through the stories of others. In ‘The Jealous Flock’ I am speaking largely as the boy who said, “The emperor has no clothes!” This experience has been, and still is, a large influence on my thinking and outlook on life.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Both. However I am going to map out my next project before really getting stuck in this time. It makes life a lot easier.
Please tell us about your current release.
The Jealous Flock is my debut novel and it’s short. A lot of people like it once they’ve read it, which is gratifying. It’s getting anyone interested in the first place that seems to be the tricky part. If you’ve ever watched one of those mini-series that the British do so well about an upper-middle class family going through some kind of crisis – well imagine taking that and putting it on the world stage. Giving that story international, geopolitical context. That’s The Jealous Flock. It relates all the small things to the very large things that are shaping our society today.
What inspired you to write this book?
About 4-5 years ago I could sense a change in the zeitgeist. I come from a deeply religious, indeed Fundamentalist Christian, family and the Gift of Prophecy is something they take for granted. I see foresight in a more prosaic manner but that’s basically what I was doing back then – forecasting the future. I saw a few, but certainly not all, of the emerging trends and tried to commit these revelations to paper as quickly as I could.
How did you come up with the title?
That shall remain an enigma. A good poem, koan or aphorism, a good riddle has to stay and gnaw at you. It’s not my job to spare you the necessary discomfort of allowing it to do its work in the back of your mind.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I’ve been watching documentaries for ages so I had a lot of backlog of international affairs to wade through. Also there are those British dramas I’m quite fond of. Then there are books of course. I’ve done some reading on Sufism and the Hashashin. I did conflate these in the book in an unrealistic way and there’s a reason for that. The reason is to exaggerate the hodge-podge of Islam that leads to extremism to show the contrasts within the ideology itself and the varying cultures we broadly label as ‘Islam’ as outsiders.
I watched a lot of interviews and visited websites of people with similar roles to those of my characters. And I did a lot of first-hand reporting. Writing live from the bus, on the beach, in my house surrounded by screeching birds.
Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?
I hate books and films where every character is an idiot. I have to live with these people so I’d better make them somewhat likeable. That was my approach. At the same time I didn’t want to make them archetypes in the way Ayn Rand does with her characters. I’m not a romantic, I’m a Realist. A Realist who also invents things. I think I like Randall the best because he’s the most fully realised of the lot. I had an easy relationship with him. The others I felt a little antipathy towards. Or rather an aloofness. They are entirely foreign to me but I did my best to understand them, generally by bringing them to heel.
If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
I’d be Martin. He’s much more important than me and doing a lot of worthwhile stuff with his life. I envy him.
If you could jump into any book, and live in that world, which would it be?
I tend to like open world fantasy games so I suppose something like Lord of The Rings would be a pretty awesome world to inhabit. As long as I can save at any time.
If you could meet two authors, who would you pick and why?
Ayn Rand because I think our fights would be epic and I could retire on the ticket sales alone.
GK Chesterton because I’ve recently discovered Distributism and I would like to start implementing his ideas with his blessing.
Forced from their collective comfort zone, all three members of Martin’s family come face to face with the realities that underpin their urbane way of life. Each is faced with a paradox that will test their belief in themselves and their image of the tolerant, liberal society they believe they inhabit.
An epic in miniature, The Jealous Flock takes readers from the cloistered air of Professional London through the harsh realities of the Middle East and on to the culture war simmering beneath the surface in Australia.
Through their interwoven narratives each character tries to grapple with change as they question their authenticity and value as individuals amidst The Jealous Flock.
About the Author
Ashley Borodin was born in Victoria, Australia in 1978, that means he remembers stonewashed denim jackets the first time round. He has been published in a few literary journals and delivers poems into the void daily on Twitter. His début novel is The Jealous Flock but he won’t tell you what the title means.