Hoffman hated the city and he was sure the feeling was reciprocated.
Each time he visited – sometimes for work but often at Monica’s insistence, to visit the theatre or friends or simply shop- it was always hot and filthy and far too crowded. He hated the fact that everywhere he turned, he was pushed or pulled, cajoled or pressured, swept up in clouds of perfume or body odour and baked in the hot-house atmosphere the canyons of concrete created.
-The Sealed Window by Mark West
PS: Welcome Mark.
MW: Thanks for having me, Priya.
PS: What’s in your room at The Hyde Hotel?
MW: Madness, static-laden 70s porn on the TV and a sealed window.
PS: What inspired the claustrophobic qualities that you develop with The Sealed Window?
MW: Two completely different events, as it happens. My wife had to go to London for a thing with work and it was during the summer. They put her up in a hotel and she said she had the tiniest room she’d ever seen – it was on a main road so she had to make the choice, either swelter through the night with the window closed or leave the window open and it be too noisy to sleep. A couple of years later, we were on holiday in Wales and staying in a chalet that was long and narrow. Our bedroom was at the narrowest end and at the time, I was reading an anthology and that nights story had featured someone drowning in sand on a beach. I think the claustrophobia of the room, plus the idea of drowning, really played on my mind and I woke up in the middle of the night and tried to get out of bed but forgot how close the walls were, bounced off it and back onto the bed and the panic set in. In the end, Alison woke up and helped me around the bed into the hallway so that I could calm down.
PS: Tell me more about Hoffman.
MW: Hoffman is a forty-year-old man who is clearly at the end of his tether, forced to endure a stay in a city he hates, in a sticky heat that doesn’t do his mood any good at all. His day is made worse by the people around him – from fellow travellers on the train to noisy neighbours in the hotel – until a sealed window proves to be the final straw. I liked him, I could empathise with a lot of the things that drove him barmy!
PS: Do you have a favourite story in Hyde Hotel collection?
MW: I think they’re all as good as each other in their own way (or, “how to answer a question diplomatically…”)
PS: What’s the appeal of the hotel as a setting?
MW: I think the anonymity works well, in that nobody knows who you really are but, likewise, you don’t really know who anybody else is. All we see, in a hotel, are the masks that people want to present to the world. But it’s human life writ large – a hotel with fifty occupied rooms has at least fifty life stories, all different and all as complicated and detailed as our own, existing at the same time. For everyone in there who’s happy (a second honeymoon, perhaps), there’s also someone there in the doldrums (perhaps escaping a failed relationship, with little or no hope for the future).
PS: What’s your favourite hotel story/film?
MW: Probably “Psycho” by Robert Bloch.
PS: Do you have any new projects you can talk about?
MW: I do, thank you for asking. I have a novella called “Polly” due from Stormblade Productions (as a print/digital and audio edition) about a woman who discovers, on the eve of her twentieth wedding anniversary, that her husband is playing around and flees to Paris for a long weekend to gather her thoughts. Later on I have another novella coming out from Hersham Horror Books and there are a handful of short stories due too.
Thanks for having me here, Priya.
Mark West lives in Northamptonshire with his wife Alison and their young son Matthew. Since discovering the small press in 1998 he has published over eighty short stories, two novels, a novelette, a chapbook, a collection and two novellas (one of which, Drive, was nominated for a British Fantasy Award). He has more short stories and novellas forthcoming and is currently working on a novel.
Away from writing, he enjoys reading, walking, cycling, watching films and playing Dudeball with his son.
He can be contacted through his website at http://www.markwest.org.uk and is also on Twitter as @MarkEWest
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