Kick back. Take a deep breath. It’s Q&A time
Welcome to the blog and Facebook page of Crooked Cat’s Cy Forrest, answering questions from his studio in a rural village just south of Bath. His major new novel The Punished is due out on September 13. Join in the live online Facebook launch event on the day.
How do you use social media, Cy?
My work speaks volumes about me, so I let my work do the talking, but the more my work appears out there, the more I have to say on Twitter and Facebook. The Punished will be released on September 13th, so it’s been full steam ahead for me and the team at Crooked Cat Books, but it does mean fewer posts from me at the moment, not even shares.
My approach to my work and my main concerns remain the same and they’re both equally important to me. They both feed into each other. It’s important to me that my followers know my main concerns are not secret: the right to roam, fox hunting, privacy, surveillance and welfare are my main concerns.
How do you feel about Joanna Trollope’s attack on JK Rowling’s use of social media, Cy?
My work is gnarley and highly focussed at the moment as I strive to make my best efforts better, so searching around for news that helps me retain a sense of balance is important for me. It’s easy while working head down to feel isolated and alone, that everything else is going in one direction and more successful.
To combat the stress that comes from the intensity, I look for the unselfish efforts of others that go against the flow. As an architect would say, if everyone’s building high rise, I need to be doing the opposite. It is tough taking the path of most resistance, but giving in and going with the flow would mean failure.
We’re part of a team at Crooked Cat Books and we share and share alike. Sharing is quick and easy and it shows people we’re still here. Sharing stuff strengthens me so I can return to the grizzly work renewed. I like to share important issues, too, for very good reasons, so yes, Trollope provoked some deep thinking and it raised questions.
Should creative people stray into issues that don’t concern them? Is it egotistical to tweet good causes? My work is about people against the odds and characters in extraordinary situations so I’m always going to be raising issues. I can’t change the world, but I do say all I want to say through my work. I kind of take it for granted that the lawmakers will do the same through their work, debating, discussing, opposing and voting. That’s how it’s worked for a century.
With your new change of direction, are you going to tweet less about issues?
No. I have indeed made a conscious change of direction, but if that resulted in fewer posts and more about me and my work, it would be egotistical. That’s not what my followers want. It wouldn’t be clever for a creative person to give in and let everything go unopposed. It wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest.
So, no, I don’t agree with Trollope. I fully appreciate why so many creative people take to social media to protest about issues when they feel opposition has let them down. Opposition is important, so if lawmakers don’t oppose, then people will speak up. It appears even JK Rowling feels that way.
So do you vote, Cy?
I’ve never taken the right to vote for granted, nor the handful of laws that enable me to produce work and share it publicly, because not every artist in the world enjoys this freedom. It would be madness not to vote. There’s a principle at stake: the right to elect someone to oppose the government in parliament on my behalf. This isn’t a party political issue. It’s a principle. It’s one way democracy works and it’s protected by law.
I’ve always voted with the assumption that my vote will make a difference, but the main issue is simple. Until a law is passed that says we must all support the government, I’ll oppose the government. The last general election in the UK was called to crush “division”, or opposition, an infamously disastrous decision, but I worried on June 8th 2017 that it would be the last time I’d vote:
“At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster. But instead there is division. The country is coming together but Westminster is not.” T. May
You saw a time when you thought you wouldn’t be allowed to vote again. Why?
The 2017 GE was part of a trend towards silencing “division”, or opposition in Westminster. After the 2015 election, the acting leader of the opposition said she would not oppose government austerity cuts. This caused a mass movement to elect a strong leader of the opposition who does oppose cuts. The rest is history.
The 2017 GE outcome was a surprise, but the real surprise was not that a new generation has seen the light, but that a previous generation’s apathy allowed a new wave to trounce a generation’s hopes and aspirations and openly criticise them for being born.
Educated young people have a sense of entitlement. Why shouldn’t they? I’m optimistic about the future when people are getting together in this way. Solidarity work better together. That’s why I’m promoting Hull Young Labour’s crowdfunding efforts here. Good luck to them, they’ve earned it.