‘It’s that process of dissipation I’m mostly interested in. Not the mythic or folkloric past itself so much as the vestiges and remnants we are left with today, with all these interleaved layers of amnesia. It’s another manifestation of those negative spaces where stories find nourishment. You may not even really know what it is that’s gone or elapsed (and I regretfully know piss-all, really, about history or folklore or myth) but you know something has. The absence is what’s palpable, like a phantom twinge in a missing limb. Of course it’s dangerously easy to valorise what’s gone, or what we imagine what’s gone – nostalgia for what we never actually had is an ubiquitous affliction.
In terms of self-destruction. The Joseph Conrad line says it all – ‘Let them think what they liked, but I didn’t mean to drown myself. I meant to swim until I sank – but that’s not the same thing.’ That’s it. That’s us. That’s them, my characters.’
Interview with Colin Barrett, author of Young Skins.