The Punished: Crooked Cat’s Cy Forrest Q&A. All Change

Take a deep breath, pull on walking boots and head for the hills – it’s time to kick back once again. Summer really is here. The skies are cloudless and endless sun-drenched days promise the seeds of change.

From his studio in a rural village just south of Bath, we discuss the dynamic forces that drove Cy Forrest’s new creative direction.

It’s all change for your followers, Cy

The Punished is a significant change in direction. My decision to take a step forward was one I needed to make. Time and tide wait for no man, to quote Chaucer. With The Punished, I found that new direction.

For new followers, can you summarise what you’ve been doing so far?

Building a portfolio of published work and attracting a significant following.

Can you describe the latest change of direction, Cy?

People who follow my work will definitely notice this one. The Punished is big. It feels rad just to be doing this and I’m in a highly productive phase at the moment. My aim was to shake off any confusion with the work of a well-known British politician. It wasn’t a difficult step to take after so long building a portfolio, but it was pretty gnarley work trying to find a direction that impacted in the way The Punished does.

What drove it?

The drive behind the change came after my recent work for Big Pulp, Akashic Books and Pif Magazine. The excellent people at Crooked Cat Books and the Cornerstones Consultancy provided the driving force, and the new direction has provided an injection of fresh creative battery acid. It’s a huge step to take, but my followers won’t be struggling with the ideas behind The Punished.

Can you tell your followers what to expect?

Inspiration continues to flow, thankfully, and those followers who’ve been with me every step of the way can look forward to much, much more. After following me for so long and seeing the creative development from the early days of Silverthought, Verbsap, Eclectica and Attack!!!, they’ll know this change of direction is nothing new. From the noirish For Murder, Just Add Water, to the dystopian Hard Rain, and the sci-fi of Life Force, change is the only constant. It underlies every step I’ve taken to arrive at The Punished.

So will the new direction involve an internet purge on your early work, Cy?

My creative development will always be there for everyone to see, third party links permitting. I’m proud of the work I’ve put out there and grateful to the many amazing ground-breakers who’ve helped me: Paul Hughes, Mariah Beckman, Katie Martinez, Wes White, Tom Dooley, Bill Olver, Earl Wynn and many others. I’m very lucky that so many amazing people share my outlook and put their money where their mouth is to show my work and the work of others year in, year out. Honestly, it’s been an absolute luxury.

Can’t you just rest on your archive?

You never master this business. Few do. But my personality doesn’t understand lost causes. My work is all heads-down intensity, some would say insanity. It starts in my studio with no external creative assistance whatsoever. It drags itself up by its bootlaces from a starting point of nowhere. My followers, readers, promoters and publishers provide the real music to my ears. It’s why I keep coming up with new work and why I’m so pleased that The Punished will be out there, too.

So why the change of direction, Cy?

I make conscious decisions to seek out new creative directions every minute of every day. I start from a base camp that can only lead uphill (to use a useful mountaineering metaphor):

  • Create everywhere
  • Redeem everything
  • Be foolish

The reader is the most important consideration to ensure my work continues to get out there for people to see. I never target magazines, genres or publishers. I’m striving for the same inspiration with the same outlook on lifestyle, work and play as I always have because life, art and work are intrinsically connected and my lifestyle feeds into my work to ensure it’s always new.

Can you give an example of how that balance works, Cy?

My work is always pretty intense and I need to recharge the creative battery acid regularly. I’m no great shakes in the garden, but I do like to get out there and face the ever-changing landscape by carving out some naturalistic shapes in hedges and borders. Pruning things to the bone and then having to get out there and do it all over again a week later because it’s grown leggy is not creativity. That’s slavery. My work dictates that I just don’t have time to be a slave to neatness.

To give an example of how recharging feeds into my work, I’ve stayed creative through small but significant rituals such as the ‘shaggy box plan’ to cloud-prune the hedges. Every year, around Easter, the cherry blossom falls on the hedge I’ve just shaped. The appearance of blossom in shaggy box is rad and causes passing hikers to stop and take their cameras out.

I watched the BBC TV programme Springwatch on the symbolism of sakura (cherry blossom) in Japan and what it means in a country where art and work are intrinsically connected. Knowing that I can create a hedge that attracts interest, I’m always inspired and that leads to further immersion in my work and more decision making. There are so many things I can do if I want to. I just need to flip things upside down, shake them and see if they’re real.

My lifestyle is about restoring absolute confidence by always working creatively instead of working on things that must be done, the dreaded chores. There are no chores. It’s all creative electrolyte, even the dreaded hoovering has its place in the process. Cleaning rituals benefit everyone, especially me. Maybe I should be a sculptor. Maybe I should be a garden designer. Maybe I should live in Japan.

SeptFBheadersCy Forrest’s dark novel is going to be one you’ll be gripped to. The Punished will be released by Crooked Cat Books September 13th 2017.