This post is sponsored by Penguin UK.
If you’re familiar with David Arnold, you’ll know you’re about to step into a weird and wonderful world when you open up the pages; ‘The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik’ isn’t exempt from the rule either. We sat down with the author to talk about the inspirations behind the book and what we can expect from the film adaptation.
You’ve mentioned before it takes a long time to write a book and there are so many elements in ‘Strange Fascinations’. Where did you get the first idea from and how did you make it evolve into what it is now?
In 2010 I was on a cruise ship and one of the evening performers was a hypnotist, and I thought, what if one of these people woke up in an alternate reality? That idea sat in a file on my computer for a few years, until it hit me how much more interesting it would be if, instead of waking up in a whole other reality, you woke up in your own, only dialled slightly off-centre. There are a lot of references to change in the book, and I think that’s due to the fact that I mostly wrote NOAH during a time when my family was relocating cities, doing it all with a two-year-old, trying to put down roots in our old hometown. So it was natural, I think, to write something I could latch onto and something that reflected that season of change.
Have you had any experience with being hypnotized?
Not directly, but on that 2010 cruise, I watched a woman voluntarily go under, and when she came out of hypnosis, she had this look on her face of complete disorientation. I saw her around the boat throughout the week, and I swear that look never left her face.
Bowie features heavily in the book, including in the title and we’re getting serious Bowie vibes from the cover. Did you have to do much research into him or are you a big fan?
I love Bowie, though probably not as much as Noah does. I have read his biography (Strange Fascinations), which was very insightful. Mostly, it was an opportunity to channel my own obsession with a different artist, Elliott Smith, into Noah’s obsession with Bowie. Whether you like Bowie or not, I think most of us have that person—whether it’s a musician or filmmaker or writer or artist—who, even though we’ve never met, we would swear they get us like no one else.
How do you feel about ‘Strange Fascinations’ being turned into a movie? Will you play a part in the creative process?
I’m thrilled at the prospect! I think my years in the music industry have taught me how to enjoy where I am in the process without constantly looking ahead to what it might become. As far as being part of the creative process, the producers and everyone at Paramount have certainly made me feel welcome. That said, it’s a whole other medium. The ingredients of a great film are different from those of a book; I’m more inclined to defer to those who understand those ingredients better than I do.
We love the Gilmore Girls references throughout the book, so we have to ask. What’s your favourite episode?
Oh man. This is tough. I’m bad at timelines, so I may be wrong about this, but I feel like there was a sweet spot—post-Dean, pre-Firefly Inn—where the show maybe peaked. I don’t know if I have a favourite episode, but it would probably be somewhere in there. I have a t-shirt that best sums up my love of Gilmore Girls, which says, “I was meant to live in Stars Hollow.” I love that town.
Another steady in Noah’s life is his clothes, what outfit would you wear every day if you could?
My buffalo flannel PJ pants. Those bad boys are freaking comfy and stylish.
We’re treated to chapters weaved in from Noah’s favourite author, Mila Henry – who’s actually a fictional character! It must have been like writing two books in one! How did you come up with the idea for that storyline?
That was actually the seed of a whole other book idea. In it, the character was obsessed with an author who drew unique sketches at the top of each chapter, only one of which was stylistically different from the rest. That book never amounted to anything, but I always liked the idea. And it was a fun departure, writing fiction that would have fit into that particular 50s adult lit scene. I actually created a website (milahenryauthor.com) where you can find longer excerpts or her (fictional) works and interviews.
What one book could you read over and over again and not get bored?
I’ll give you two. The Lord of the Rings, but as with my love of Gilmore Girls, it’s mostly about setting. I want to live in the Shire. And more recently, I would say Jason Reynold’s For Every One, which just came out this April. What Stephen King’s On Writing is to craft, this book is to dreams. I’ve read it five times now and it just doesn’t get old.
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