Pat Black speaks to David Olner about his novel, The Baggage Carousel. It’s about travel… it’s about romance… it’s about every interconnected positive and negative…
Pat Black: The Baggage Carousel has a lot to do with global travel – how much did you draw on your own experiences for the novel?
David Olner: I used to go backpacking a lot, back before I sacrificed my personal freedom at the altar of capitalism. So, all the locations featured in the book are ones that I’ve visited. Some of the incidents are based on real life but heightened for dramatic effect. Others are made up, because that’s how fiction works. How much is true and how much fabricated? You, the jury, must decide.
DO: I never really thought of The Baggage Carousel as a social document until you highlighted it in your review, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s always interesting to see how your writing is perceived by others. If anything, given the main character Dan’s demeanour, I saw it as more of an anti-social document. I just wrote about what I know – life in a small town and the lure of the big world beyond it. I didn’t have any particular political agenda in mind when I wrote it, but if that’s what people take from the text then it’s fine. I’m just happy it’s being read at all.
PB: Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing background.
DO: I reside in…well, in a small town. It’s in East Yorkshire. I lead a pretty monastic existence there – devoid of sexual intimacy but with plenty of wine. I work the nightshift in a kitchen warehouse and cower from the sun during the day. I started writing The Baggage Carousel years ago, used to chip away at it when I had time, honed it with the help of other writers on an online forum (I’m sure you know the one I mean, Pat) and subbed it out when I couldn’t do any more to it. I had some sparks of interest from agents, but nothing that ever caught fire. When I’d exhausted all possible lines of enquiry, I shelved the MS and started writing another book.
Somewhere down the line, I was contacted by Nathan O’Hagan, a writer I knew from the online forum. He’d gone on to become a published writer and told me he was setting up his own indie press with another author, a hirsute fellow named Wayne Leeming. Nathan and I had admired each other’s work on the website and, when he found out I hadn’t got my book placed, the two of them offered to consider it for the new roster they were building.
And…wallop…now it’s a book, a tangible thing you can hold in your hand, or wedge under a wonky table leg. So, the message here is this: never delete any of your work and never consider it done with – you never know when its time might come.
PB: Tell us what’s next for you.
DO: My next book will be a period romance entitled Minnie the Cigarette Girl Has Been Deemed Obstreperous. Nah, just messing, it’s called Munger – another dark comedy, this one centring around a sex-tourist coming undone in Thailand. It’s already written and awaiting rejection. Beyond that, I’ve recently started a new project, which will be more in the dystopian/YA vein. I wanted to try something different, something less murky that my mum wouldn’t be embarrassed to pass on to her Book Club.
At this early stage I don’t really know how it’ll work out. It might well be terrible, but it’s always good to try new things.
PB: Obliterati Press are quite new – tell us a bit about them.
DO: They eat cat food.