Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Author Interview: Andrez Bergen: Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat: Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa

Andrez Bergen is an expat Australian writer, journalist, artist and DJ from Melbourne, entrenched in Tokyo these past 13 years working there as a journalist and teacher.

He published his debut novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat in 2011, followed by One Hundred Years of Vicissitude (2012) and Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? (2013).

He has also published short stories and comics (such as Tales to Admonish with Matt Kyme) through Perfect Edge, Crime Factory, Snubnose Press, Shotgun Honey, 8th Wonder Press, IF? Commix, Big Pulp, Ace Comics and Another Sky Press, and edited an anthology of post-apocalyptic noir. On the side Bergen worked on adapting scripts for feature films by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Kazuchika Kise and Naoyoshi Shiotani at Production I.G.
He additionally hammers together tunes as Little Nobody, he covets sashimi and saké, and lives in Japan with his wife and eight-year-old daughter.

Welcome Andrew!

Your real name and pen name?

"Real name is Andrew
 Bergen, though I write as Andrez, and I have a few other aliases. Music wise I'm better known (I guess) as Little Nobody, and sometimes I do artwork as Joe King."

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood.

"I grew up mostly in Melbourne, Australia, but also spent a couple of years of my childhood living on the Gold Coast in Queensland, so I've always had an affinity for wilder beaches. At stages I imagined myself a poor-man's Huckleberry Finn while exploring the backwaters of Gardiner's Creek in Melbourne. But otherwise I was a bit of a homebody, rapt up in books, writing, comics, drawing, and old movies on the telly."

What career did you plan during school days?

"I actually always wanted to be a writer and dreamed of being involved in comic book production. Oh, and I had aspirations to be an astronaut. Does that count?"

What languages you can speak and write?

"English (I hope), plus some Japanese and a smattering of Swedish and French. Minimalist stuff."

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

"Currently? Easy. My eight-year-old daughter Cocoa."

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

"Um... maybe 24 hours in the shoes of Edward Wood, getting drunk and making bad movies — while hanging out with Bela Lugosi."

What is your favorite genre and why?

"Definitely noir, especially classics written by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. I love the grey areas within the text, the anti-heroic personalities, the eccentric side characters, and their cracking dialogue. But I also enjoy sci-fi and the offbeat surreal since these add a certain extraterrestrial dimension to proceedings. People like Haruki Murakami, Angela Carter, Nicholas Christopher and Jedediah Berry. And I love the noir comics of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips ('Fatale') and Brubaker with Steve Epting ('Velvet').

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?

"I started writing when I was about five or six — whenever it was I could fist hold a pencil or crayon and string a sentence together. It was a means of escapism, I guess, and an outlet for the worlds flitting through my imagination."

Which of your work has been published so far?

"I've published three novels — 'Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat' (2011), 'One Hundred Years of Vicissitude' (2012) and 'Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?' (2013) — and co-edited a post-apocalyptic noir anthology called 'The Tobacco-Stained Sky' (2013). There's also a published collection of my short stories, articles and comic yarns, 'The Condimental Op' (2013), and two issues of the comic book I do with artist Matt Kyme ('Tales to Admonish')."

What are your forthcoming writings?

"The next novel is titled 'Depth Charging Planet Goth', while comic book wise we have 'Tales to Admonish' #3 and the 'Black/White' noir anthology."

What are your future plans?

Definitely more novels and comics. Books-wise I'm mulling over a possible offbeat sci-fi/fantasy romp, kind of like 'Dune' sandwiched together with Buck Rogers, John Carter from Mars and 'Sliders' — a rejig of something I wrote in high school called 'Snow'.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

"Trying to be true to myself and my sometimes wayward imagination — I'm not in this to write a bestseller, but to write a story. I also don't place constraints on myself while I write. There is no solid plan, so I guess I'm winging it as the tale unfolds. This gives me the freedom to pursue whatever course, and I certainly don't like to be constrained by genre pigeonholing. I think they're the only 'rules' I follow."

Your origin of birth and other countries you have lived in.

"I'm born and bred Melbourne (Australia) — it's in my blood and I'm fiercely parochial about that city. But I've also live the past quarter of my life in Tokyo, Japan. This is another city I love and I think it's the people here and the rich history/culture — tempered by its fragility — that makes it special. And I lived six months in London when I was 23. I love that place too."

Your zodiac/ sunsign?

"Sagittarius, born in the Year of the Dragon."

Your favorite book, and why?

"I'm always torn between Raymond Chandler's 'The Big Sleep' and Dashiell Hammett's 'The Maltese Falcon'. Both books have streetwise, cynical detectives who have the best commentary in literature. Plus the oddball characters surrounding Spade and Marlowe are just plain mesmerizing."

Your favorite food?

"Sashimi. It only just pips sushi. Not for health reasons — but before I discovered raw fish, I didn't like fish at all. Then I had these dishes... and wow. Forever in awe."

Some quickies: Sun or Moon, Laughter or Smile, Coffee or Tea, Mountain or Sea, Water or Fire, Mars or Jupiter, Tulip or Rose, Left or Right, Glance or Stare...?

"Sun, laughter, coffee, sea, fire, Mars, roses, left."

State your signature line/ tagline/ best quote.


The last line of your autobiography would be…

"Tried everything once, did his best, and aspired to be a half-decent dad."


Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat / Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? / Tales to Admonish

MUZAK as Little Nobody and Funk Gadget

Senior Writer/Editor @ Impact magazine (UK)
Writer/Editor @ Anime Update / Gaijinpot / JapaneseCultureGoNow! / Yomiuri Shimbun

Comics @ IF? Commix
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