mercoledì 15 dicembre 2010

Intervista ad Alan John Scarfe (a.k.a. Clanash Farjeon)

Alan John Scarfe è l'autore di due stupendi quanto sanguinosi romanzi qui recensiti: "I v ampiri di Ciudad Juarez" e "Le memorie di Jack lo squartatore".
In questa intervista che ha gentilmente rilasciato a Ca' delle Ombre, avrà modo di spiegarci meglio i tratti della sua singolare narrativa e ci darà anticipazioni sulla sua saga vampiresca in 3 volumi, di cui "I vampiri di Ciudad Juarez" è il primo, esaltante, capitolo.
Un ringraziamento doveroso va a Susanna Angelino, per la precisissima
traduzione in inglese delle domande... Senza di lei sarebbe stata decisamente
Buona lettura, affezionati horrorofili!!!

CdO: Hello Mister Scarfe, thanks for spending some of your time to answer
this interview. Your idea to connect horror with some aspects of social
life is very fascinating and transforms real facts into something even more eerie.
What led you to make this choice?

Scarfe: It wasn't a conscious choice. To me the story of our so-
called 'human' species is an endless saga of gore and blood. Yes, I
know it can be looked at quite differently. It can be seen as a story
of boundless creativity and invention, of musical and literary and
scientific genius, or the slow and patient development of
'civilization'. But what fascinates me is the way we live our ordinary
lives apart from the obvious horror of what is going on around us. In
my novel The Vampires of 9/11 which will be published by Gargoyle
Books next spring I focus on the fact that the American public cannot
seem to bring itself to realize what happened that day. That as with
the Kennedy assassinations, the death of Martin Luther King, the Gulf
of Tonkin deception, the outright lies that allowed the Bush and Blair
administrations to begin the carnage in Iraq etc etc etc people seem
unable or unwilling or uninterested to look the facts squarely in the
face. I'm writing about this double-consciousness. It is
evident, I hope, in the psychology of Lyttleton Stewart Forbes Winslow
in my Jack the Ripper novel and in the self-deceiving vampirism of the
Portillos in The Vampires of Ciudad Juarez which allows them to
indulge their cruelty. It surrounds us every day. To me it is a mystery that
otherwise reasonably sane people can claim to believe in a fiction
called 'God'.

CdO: Other writers and directors (such as Brian Yuzna and George Rome for
instance) have used horror as a form of denouncement. Is there someone
in particular that inspired your decision?

Scarfe: No. I hardly ever read novels and certainly not 'horror'
novels. But I do read a lot of 'horror' history.

CdO: To me “The Autobiography of Jack The Ripper” rather than a historical affresco in itself is very realistic, seeing the uncertainties of our time. Do you think that the social concerns of Victorian London might be juxtaposed to the present situation?

Scarfe: The 'social concerns' have essentially been the same
since our species came down from the trees. There has always been an
element in every society that has tried to gather the wealth of that
society unto itself. It is somewhat the same in every species. The
dominant male lion eats first even if he didn't do the work and so on
and so on. But with homo sapiens it always goes beyond the point
necessary for 'genetic survival'. In Victorian London the schism between the elegance of
Mayfair and the slums of Whitechapel was very pronounced. And it is
even more so in modern America where 500 multi-billionaires exist side
by side with 60 million people who live below the poverty line.
It is a convenient fiction that everyone alive on the
planet could have the comfortable lifestyle that I do no matter how
well we might be able to husband our resources. It has been proved
that the earth could support perhaps one or two billion in this way at
the most. The super-rich know this very well and it gives them the
justification to live as selfishly as they do. But I'm part of it.
We're all part of it.

CdO: “The Autobiography of Jack The Ripper” is very different to “The
Vampires of Ciudad Juarez” both in the narrative style and in the setting. Was it
difficult to pass from one setting to the other?

Scarfe: Not at all. The style of the prose for the autobiography
was in some ways dictated by Lyttleton Stewart Forbes Winslow's own
writings. His autobiography, Recollections of Forty Years, contains a
complete chapter about Jack the Ripper from which I borrowed heavily.
I think virtually every word of that chapter can be found somewhere in
my book. And I wanted to convey a sense of his insanity which required
some incongruous interpolations in the text. Certainly the theme of
the 'double brain' is central to the book. Juarez contains a substantial leaven of comedy, at least
I hope so, which was not to be found in Jack's ramblings. And the
narrative style reflects the need to interweave many different stories
which was also not the case with the single narrative line of Jack's

CdO: "The vampires of Ciudad Juarez" offers a very daring revision of the
vampire character. What led you to this?

Scarfe: Since I am writing about the justifications that people
invent for the cruelty they so enjoy .. Lyttleton's search for God ..
the Portillos imagining themselves to be vampires .. it wasn't really
a revision. The revision is in the Portillo's minds. Of course, in Juarez I am primarily using vampire
imagery as metaphor but I do leave the issue of the 'reality' of
vampires open. I think it remains open in The Vampires of 9/11 and I
shall not reveal what happens in novel three.

CdO: That was the first chapter of a trilogy concerning the vampire
character. Can you give us some anticipations about the sequel of the saga?

Scarfe: All I can tell you about 9/11, the Italian translation is
nearly finished, is that it transcends the horror of Juarez. The
perpetrators of 9/11 are far worse people than the Portillos and their
deeds infinitely more vile.

CdO: The next chapter of the saga (to be released in 2011 from Gargoyle
Books) will have the name of “The Vampires of 9/11”. Why did you choose to talk
about that event? Don’t you consider it a risk since it is such an inflated topic?

Scarfe: Yes, I think it is a risk and I think it is very
courageous of Gargoyle Books to publish it. However, I hope it mixes
fantasy and reality in such a way that it will not appear to take
advantage of all those thousands who died that day in the United
States and are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clearly from what I have said I do not believe the official story of what took place that day and my motivation in
writing about it is because of that.

CdO: I would like to ask you a question which arises from some reflections on
your writings: Could a horror story ever be more cruel and cynical than human

Scarfe: I certainly do not think so. I think it is possible to describe the
crimes of Jean-Pierre Bemba for example but I don't think something worse can
really be conceived. Can one imagine a torture more horrifying than that
inflicted on the assassin Balthasar Gerard? We have the many instances of
genocide in human history. And countless concentration camps. What about
Hiroshima, Nagasaki or the bombing Dresden? 9/11 is small in comparison. My
imagination cannot stretch further than what human beings have already done.

CdO: Would you like to say something to the readers of Ca’ delle Ombre?

Scarfe: Yes. If you would like to know more about me or contact
me directly please go to

CdO: This interview is over. I hope we can read your other two books in the
near future “The Vampires of 9/11” and “The Vampires of the Holy Spirit”.

Scarfe: I believe that Gargoyle will issue 9/11 in April 2011. I
am still working on Holy Spirit but I hope I can finish it by next
summer and that Gargoyle will make it available sometime in 2012.

CdO: Good luck for your future projects and thank you once again for your

Scarfe: It has been my pleasure and I thank you once again for
your kind words about these rather strange books.

(Intervista a cura di) Valerio Bonante

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