I’m welcoming Ashley Borodin to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about his novel The Jealous Flock and to explain more about his motivation for writing. The Jealous Flock was published by Lulu on 4th January 2017 and is available for purchase in ebook and paperback from your local Amazon site.
The Jealous Flock
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.
An Interview with Ashley Borodin
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing . Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
This is the hardest question for me. It’s right up there with “…so, what do you do?”
… I suppose what might give my work and personality, my values, some context for the average reader is this:
I was brought up a Fundamentalist Christian. Proper hardcore UPC, That’s United Pentecostal Church for those who came in late. It was not a happy and loving household. But then would I have anything to write about, anything to say, if it was?
I sometimes wonder if I would have any thoughts of my own if I wasn’t driven inside by my environment and forced to develop a strong sense of identity in order to cope.
So that’s why I dread that question. Because even the shortest of answers is, and I’m struggling to find a something that isn’t cliche here – oh well…. diving straight into the deep end.
(I think some of the best writers are driven by a personal angst Ashley)
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about The Jealous Flock?
It was completed over 3 years ago and I’ll outlay the significance of that. I was seeing some emerging trends in the world and I realised no-one was talking about them. There was a deliberate curtain of ignorance drawn across issues I believed were about to explode and reshape our society.
A few of these issues were:
Terrorists learning how to manipulate the West through proficient use of PR and Social Media. And beneath that the fact that the terrorists were actually a legitimisation for long-standing tribal groups who were already fighting. By ‘legitimisation’ I mean using Jihad as as a cover for local, tribal conflicts and power struggles.
In my mind the logical extension of this was to prey on the goodwill of the Western public to then legitimise the Jihad. Layer upon layer of deceit.
I wrote, 4 years ago, about an English PR consultant travelling to the Middle East to work on rebranding a terrorist/tribal group in order to successfully win over the Western Media, the public and thereby smooth negotiations with governments.
Three years later a UN press conference is held in which some startling claims are made about The White Helmets and blog readers can access part of that here.
Tanssexuals were still barely whispered of 3-4 years ago. Now they are full members of society, so much so that we have a number of outspoken Conservative transsexuals.
I think you know a group has been integrated when they start fighting with the Progressives and the Progressives fight back. That’s when you know we’ve reached parity and everything’s going to be OK.
Men’s rights. MGTOW’s. MRA’s, Cassie Jaye’s The Red Pill all spilled out into the mainstream quite suddenly late last year (2016). They’re still not at the conceptual stage I was writing about in my book but the pragmatic issues are being spoken of, loudly and in public.
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I think I became a writer late last year when I was introduced to that video of Vanessa Beeley addressing the UN. She was talking about my book, my themes, my observations of 4 years ago, or even earlier. I’d been sitting on the book for 3 years, despondent about ever finding an audience or anyone who even cared. And here was someone telling the world. There was a fire, a stirring in my chest, that sense of well-being you get from great food, great conversation, great wine. I wanted to be alive, to be part of this vital moment in time when the truth was being told.
Truth has that effect on me. The way music and love does on others. It makes me feel alive. I suppose I’m speaking of the mystical sensation, the visceral impact of Revelation.
(That must have been a very special moment for you.)
How did you go about researching detail to ensure realistic and authentic settings in The Jealous Flock?
I’d like to answer that with a minor anecdote. Around the time I was finishing my book I kept hearing about some guy called Franzen. So after months of this – with references to a book that sounded eerily similar to mine – I finally succumbed and got a copy from the library.
Thankfully we’re nothing alike.
But what was clear was that we’d used a lot of the same source material. Just reading some of the dialogue indicated that this Franzen had watched the same docos about Lemmy and/or Twisted Sister as I had. We share at least one character and I will say no more.
I think doco’s are a great source of ephemeral, writerly information. Because they are an experience more than an historical record. Ofttimes more propaganda than fact but you get a feel for a topic. You get a firm grasp on the edges of it without ever really learning anything of real depth. So doco’s give you this framework and a set of postcards you can revisit when you need to go to Egypt or you need an American Indian Alcoholic who’s got a tense relationship with her mother.
I filled in the gaps with good journalistic sources (that’s the hardest part these days) and of course, books. I bought a book on the Hashashin and another on Islamic Mystical poetry. The rest is drawn from my poems and direct experience.
The Jealous Flock cover is quite stark and sinister. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?
Christian Monks, we’re told, used to have a skull on the desk in front of them: Memento mori (“remember that you have to die”).
I think of a sheep being led to the slaughter. I think of the outcome of being a follower, the danger of being led.
On the other hand, I am playing on the public associations with skulls and death, on horror. With ram skulls somehow associated with the occult and evil. Personally I hate ‘horror’ but with that cover I’m trying to send a message about the underlying horror of being a drone. The certain knowledge that once you’re done there’s a bullet at the end. If your existence is dependent on the goodwill of others – on your usefulness to them – what happens if those people covet your life. What if they are ‘jealous’ and act as one?
… Memento Mori.
Or I’m just trying to be the Liberal Ayn Rand.
(Interesting concepts. There’s only one certainty in life Ashley – death! Blog readers who want to find out more about Ayn Rand can click here.)
If you could choose to be a character from The Jealous Flock, who would you be and why?
Oooh, well I’m all of them. Cover included. I was a follower once too.
When I wrote it I most related to Randall. That’s basically me. Born old. In fact that guy is closest to my own experience. Some of those passages I wrote on the bus visiting places he visits in the book, living in his house, being harangued by those same hovering birds, kept awake at night.
But my hero is Martin. The man who changed. The good man prepared to do what it takes but in doing so embarks unwittingly on the hero’s journey and is himself transformed into the ideal, into a leader who walks alongside. One who shows us how to be ourselves.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that The Jealous Flock should be their next read, what would you say?
A good book parts the existential smog, it lets you breath. Risk it.
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.
My pleasure. And thank you for this experience. It helps to remember who you are from time to time.
About Ashley Borodin
Ashley Borodin studied Engineering and is a writer and poet interested in culture and social issues. Currently living in Tasmania, Ashely can often be found playing the fret-less bass.