Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Ashley Borodin, Author

Ashley Borodin, Author
Ashley Borodin wants to start conversations by getting readers to think. He believes that writing in the “older style of English novel,”—from Joseph Conrad to JG Ballard— will fuel those conversations. He targets THE JEALOUS FLOCK at that purpose. One reviewer said, “This story dives deep into your thoughts and twists open the cap on unique thinking and encourages ideas of change and acceptance.”

Borodin also writes short stories and poetry and claims that “Writing chooses me at the moment,” which drives his output.  At the moment, he is working on releasing an anthology of his poems and also writing his next novel. When he’s not writing, he likes to play his fretless guitar, sing, design games, sculpt, animate, go on walks in nature, take photos, and collect “cool things.’ Plus he enjoys antiques and garage sales.

Don't miss the excerpt at the end of the interview.

Q: How would you characterize THE JEALOUS FLOCK? In what genre would you place it? What inspired you to write it?

Ashley Borodin: Part of the problem with getting people to read it is how I tend to characterize it I think. I either call it a ‘normal book’ or ‘philosophical’ and things like that. I don’t have the same values as most of the book buying public evidently, and I’m not sure how to relate it to their interests.

To me it’s like the older style of English novel, from what I consider the ‘great period.’ Joseph Conrad up to JG Ballard. Books that challenged you, that spoke about truth and taboo unabashedly.

I suppose broadly it falls into Literary Fiction, but then readers have arbitrary expectations of that slot as well.

As to inspiration, it was a mixture, a synthesis of the underlying trends changing society around me, the taboos no-one wanted to address and the stories bumping around in my own head. They coalesced through short stories initially, and then I began to weave those stories together into a cohesive plot. So it gradually evolved from its constituent parts.

Q: Who are the most likely people to read THE JEALOUS FLOCK?  What will they gain from it?

Ashley Borodin: I’d like to know that myself. I haven’t found my tribe yet. But I think it’s for the mature reader who doesn’t mind a bit of hard graft in their reading. People like me who will read a chapter and then put the book aside and just ponder it for a while, soak it in.

Q: A reviewer says that you present “well rounded characters that are both uniquely interesting and deeply complex human beings.” How do you create characters that are both interesting and complex? Why will readers engage with their “complexities?”

Ashley Borodin: Another reviewer said my characters lacked depth. I think it depends on the insight of the reader and also the allowances they are willing to make. I did skim on character development. Not consciously, but I had to make a choice between ever finishing the book and making it perfect, where perfect would involve a five year break at least, then overcoming Autism so that I can relate to people properly.

I’m working on the Autism now.

But as far as somewhat succeeding with character development - they grew out of an interaction with the environment in which I placed them. So basically I’d dim the lights and start narrating into a voice recorder. Placing myself in the scene, looking around in the dreamscape of my mind and seeing where I’d left my keys the night before, the surface of the bench, the fear, my expectations of myself in this person’s shoes. Method acting I suppose. And over the course of the story the character develops on their own.

Q: One of your reviewers said that your story “teaches how one needs to look beyond their own ideologies and thinking.” Did you write THE JEALOUS FLOCK to entertain, or were you more interested in delivering a message or getting readers to think?

Ashley Borodin: Thinking is something we need a lot more of in the world right now. But even moreso thoughtful conversation. I wanted to start a conversation, a bunch of them if possible.

Three years ago when I’d finished the book, no-one was talking about these things. Now they’re all over the news. But there is still a large proportion of society with a heavily vested interest in denying reality.

I’m not a very entertaining person, but I like to engage and debate ideas. The book is an honest representation of myself. I don’t care what side of the argument you are on, as long as you’re willing to talk, think and be rational.

I entertained myself in writing it, but my sort of entertainment clearly isn’t held in high regard by the masses. You wouldn't recognize the world if it was.

Q: How relevant is “setting” to tell your story? Could your characters be located anywhere for their story to unfold?

Ashley Borodin: These days, yes. At the time of writing, less so.

Q: You also publish poetry and short stories in addition to novellas. Do you have a favorite? When do you choose to write poetry rather than a novella or short story?

Ashley Borodin: Writing chooses me at the moment. It’s always been capricious like that. But it’s not just writing. Everything chooses me. I hope in the years to come that I gain some mastery over it, over my life. It remains to be seen.

Q: What are your favorite topics to write about?

Ashley Borodin: I like to sink my teeth into things. Anything really. Mainly ideas if I’m honest.

Q: Do you use humor to develop your characters or tell your story?

Ashley Borodin: I think I do. Whether that works for readers is another matter.

Q: What’s next?

Ashley Borodin: At the moment I am engaged in the thankless task of marketing.

I’d like to release an anthology of my poems - as a coffee table book.

I’ve also started a second novel, which might be more relatable, but I don’t know where it’s going yet.

Q: Tell us about Ashley Borodin. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Ashley Borodin: I play the fretless, try to sing and make tunes on my ipad. I tinker with game design, 3d sculpting and animation. I also like getting out into nature, walking, photography, collecting cool things I find. And I love antiques, op-shops and garage sales.

About Ashley Borodin

Ashley Borodin has published poetry, novellas and short stories. His first novel is THE JEALOUS FLOCK, which has been variously described as 'philosophical', 'over my head' and 'too short'.

Most advanced readers agree that of all contemporary fiction novels, this kindle book will linger with you long after you put it down. It may one day even be ranked among the modern classics of 2017.

Ashley comes from a poor, Fundamentalist background, so it seems natural that he would be drawn to write about experiences similar to his own in contemporary fiction.

He tends to wax Contrarian, and possibly due in part to his Autism (undiagnosed until late in life) his writing tends to dispense with the usual hand-holding of many modern authors and gets right to the cerebral matter.

He's not really influenced by anyone but if pressed to answer this, of all demeaning questions, he will point you in the direction of authors such as:

Iris Murdoch
Aldous Huxley
Charles Bukowski
John Wyndham
David Malouf
J G Ballard
Ayn Rand (yes, Ayn Rand - remember he's Autistic, so to him she's just another author with ideas worth debating).

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.

A Literary 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.


Perhaps it had always been there, unrequited on the kitchen wall. Every morning this Sufi poem had spoken to me of its longing while I buttered my toast. Now here I stood for the first time gazing back into it. The script held out the promise of golden wisps of sand blowing in from the dunes. It spoke of the mystery of the desert, the beauty of the word, and a god that can’t be seen. The Arabic font curved and undulated; snake-like, simple yet elusive.

Fear and anticipation had coiled up inside my chest, and I closed my eyes, frowning earnestly. I was out of my depth. Maybe I should call it off, I thought. I could back out now and no one would think the less of me.

Through the kitchen window the suburbs were grey and listless; they had nothing in particular to say on the subject. Staring into this drizzling scene only deepened my resolve, and I knew what had to be done.

He’s not called Rumi, you know,” Doris’s voice broke in.

I must have been muttering the whole time. Embarrassed, I tried to steady myself against the window sill, turning my back to the muted streetscape beyond.

...And you're not called Doris.” I made my first sleepy attempt at wit, accompanied by a reassuring smile. The angle of my mouth implied everything was normal while my eyes drifted far beyond where she stood. We weren’t exactly fighting, just a little unhinged. Doris by the secrecy and anguish she had seen in me lately, and I by the effect it was having on my family.



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