I met Mark MacNicol last summer when he was in Edinburgh with his excellent play Serve Cold. I finally got around to reading his debut novel Coconut Badger last week and could not put it down. It is not for the fainthearted or squeamish but it is both entertaining and educational on all sorts of levels. Mark kindly agreed to talk about Coconut Badger:
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I grew up on a Glasgow housing scheme called Pollok. I never liked violence but I knew people who did. I suppose I became fascinated by psychopaths. Men who could walk into a pub alone and challenge the entire room, showing no fear. This was the kernel of the idea.
Adult contemporary fiction I would call it. Someone once described it as ‘tartan noir’ but I’m not sure I even know what that means.
If it was made into a film which actors would you like to play the characters?
David Hayman would be a great Pat. Not sure about Tam though, maybe Martin Compston? Or Dave McKay? Or PJ Corrigan (PJ recently played Tam in a rehearsed reading of Coconut Badger at the Citizens and was brilliant. Tan Dean Burn played Pat and was also brilliant).
One sentence synopsis:
An ageing psychopath befriends a young man who struggles with confrontation.
The book was self published.
How long did it take to write?
About one year part time and six months full time.
I believe my dialect is under represented in all mediums including literature. The vernacular is written 100% phonetically (not partially as I believe most is) and I took a great deal of time to make it as authentic as possible. Tam for example speaks differently when at the office from the way he speaks on the scheme or when with Pat.
I was approached by several foreign audience members after my fringe show (serve cold) who said they liked the authentic glaswegian dialect in that play. Although it made it harder for them to understand what was being said they enjoyed its regional authenticity. Food for thought I reckon.
Current focus is my new TV drama ‘Fianna’ set in Scotland and Boston. Arriving in LA April to pitch to producers.
Radio 4 are considering adapting my stage play ‘Kamikaze’ about three school children caught up in a gang initiation.