Conversation 99: THE DAILY HAIKU Interviews: Anthony North


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I’m a short story writer (only 5’4″) with a cold – haiku!
This is truer than you think. I’m 66 and turned to writing after coming down with ME/cfs (once known as Yuppie Flu).

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I was born close to Scrooge’s Counting House. This is also more true than you might think.
Dickens visited a friend in my home town. His office was the template for the aforementioned. 200 metres away are the bells that rang out on Xmas morn. I was born on the 3rd angle of an almost perfect equilateral triangle.

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I left school at 15 and have had no formal education since. Hence, I’m self-taught.
From a family of newsagents, at 18 I did a Dick Whittington and went off to London, only to return to pretend to be Charlie and work in a chocolate factory.

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When I was ten I was asked what I wanted to be. I said soldier, writer and Dad. I never thought of it for years – having too much fun, such as a time as lead guitarist in a local rock band – but I served nine years in the RAF, got married and had seven kids. Later I realized my words had been precognitive when, at age 27, I came down with M.E. – a condition I’ve had, to varying degrees, ever since.
I had all the signs – multiple viruses, stressful job, cocktail of jabs; and then I passed out at the wheel, nearly killing my family. I haven’t felt well since.

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Instead of bed rest, I got ‘get on with it.’ Where graded exercise is now the answer, sent to a psychiatric clinic. It guaranteed a long haul.
I began to see the world different. Below society’s facade, I saw we all wore a mask of acceptance. We Hyde the real self behind a Jekyll smile, and ‘sanity’ is mad.

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Luckily I’m an optimist. It sent me on a quest. I began to devour books, looked back at my life’s experiences, determined to find out why; began to write – feverishly. Sent synopses to publishers, who sent back – by the hundred: if only you had a degree (but I wouldn’t have had these experiences); if you were an expert or celebrity (ever heard of the chicken and egg); you’re too eclectic (but I only write on one subject – everything).

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Smaller stuff was a different matter.During the late 1980s and 90s I had some 200 stories/essays published on the UK small press and newsstand magazines, leading to 2 books on the paranormal published by a Cassell imprint.Was this big break time? Sadly, no.
Whilst the first went into 3 reprints, the 2nd came just in time for the Big Biz takeover, where nurturing new talent was scrapped for profit. List closed. Books pulped.
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Luckily I’m an optimist. I also edited my own magazine, Rattler’s Tale. Later, my first blog achieved 710,000 hits in 18 months.
Now offline, I self-published the content as The ‘I’ Series (ebooks) – 8 volumes of flash fiction (horror, sci fi, romance, adventure, crime), 4 volumes of poetry & 5 volumes of short essays from politics to the unexplained.
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What spurred me on to write? Seeing that no expert could tell me what was wrong with me, I wondered how they fared in other fields. Not very well. It led me to consume knowledge and literature. For 30 years I’ve been developing PopLit & P-ology. PopLit is a new form of minimalist, genre-bending, reader-friendly literature for a busy world, encompassing all written media from books to social networks.
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P-ology is a form of Rational Holism. Based on a general understanding of most disciplines, I seek patterns in knowledge specialization could have missed, not to offer truth, but ideas – a bedfellow to specialization. When reading my work I ask only: do I make sense? Of course, an expert would say: a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I agree. And an expert has so little knowledge of everything.
To date I’ve published 53 eBooks based on PopLit & P-ology, covering most subjects and genres, as well as differing storytelling forms & poetry. Another 15 yet unedited. A microcosm of knowledge and literature, I call it.

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I invented a number of inner muses to assist me in my writing. They include Polly Ticks, Guru Tony, Willy Wordy, Major de Ranger, Techie Without a Clue, Dr Illya Ness, Pappa Razzi, Harry Fang and Philip Osophy. And where would my fiction be without my collaborators, Will Dickens and Chas Shakespeare – or, for that matter, Miss Spelling (editer)? Even my sci fi is written with the help of the statement ‘Go boldly and not split infinity’ (it’s a Trekkie thing). When my world of Pop Lit & P-ology exists I’ll be happy. Except my inner muses – then I’ll be insane.
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These were lean years where, at times, I lived on disability benefits. Now, I’m retired with a state and forces pension and financially secure. All 53 eBooks are now free and I’ve rediscovered my love of haiku, and found a fantastic community. I’m a minimalist writer – in word count as well as size. For instance, I’ve recently been working on the prosem, combining poetry and fiction. And I perfected my minimalist style through the haiku; plus the ability to think – prompts are great for this, putting you under immediate pressure to perform. Nothing teaches you word discipline, or, believe it or not storytelling, better than the haiku – as this scary exhibit may show:

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After my last breath
Before judgment I have time
To flutter your hair
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The next one aptly shows the importance of word economy:
Incomprehensib …
Utter discombobula …
Words too big for haik …
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And finally, haiku are pretty good at getting deeper ideas into the reader’s mind:
When years aren’t new
But just a different number
You are standing still
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Well, that’s me done. Hope I haven’t bored you. Luckily I’m an optimist – and blessed with the love of a good woman. 44 years and counting. After all, every story needs a happy ending. So take my hand as I show you my work on TDH – then give it back.

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7 Comments on “Conversation 99: THE DAILY HAIKU Interviews: Anthony North”

  1. Anthony this is an interview that really touched me as someone who has also suffered with ME when I was in my late teens. It is such a disturbing and debilitating experience that is extremely difficult for anyone to relate to unless they have gone through it too. But I remember it at the time as feeling like I had had a complete personality transplant and at its height was unable to concentrate, go out or function. Really frightening. Writing was something I had always done as a child, had already started pursuing until my own illness but it certainly was something I turned to with renewed vigour as I began to get better. Thank you for sharing your story here Anthony, it is still difficult to talk about complicated illnesses around mental illness but I thankfully we do seem to be getting better at supporting people now.
    I love your ideas around P-ology and wonderful haiku especially the poignant and pithy ‘when years aren’t new…’
    So glad you are here on TDH and thank you again for taking part in our interview series.

    1. Thank you for the opportunity, Amanda, I enjoyed it. Yes, ME is so hard to understand for those who have not experienced it.

  2. Anthony North how privileged am I to read your story and now your haiku on this forum . I’m literally blown away by this interview . I take my hat off to you . A pleasure to meet you ! Fran lester

  3. I just got to read the full interview Mr. Anthony. And a writer writes so well. Congratulations on your achievements and overcoming yourl health issues with such vigour. Warm wishes for longevity with your wonderful family.

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