Interview with writer and poet Noel Heart, by Veronica Merlin.
First off, congratulations on the release of your poetry collection: Blue Lips / Acoustic Suicide. Let’s start with the title: what inspired you to name your collection Blue Lips with the subtitle Acoustic Suicide?
I don´t know. Blue Lips is a poem I forgot I ever wrote. I was standing outside Travastia in Helsinki, smoking, looking through the notebook I always carry around with me. I find this poem I had forgotten about. I switched 2 words around and gave it a title. I just knew it was the title. No, it has nothing to do with suicide.
The word “acoustic” makes one think of music. Are you planning on turning any of your poems into songs?
Acoustic is music. I used to play a lot of guitar when I was a teenager, so that is what Acoustic Suicide means to me. But life kind of caught up with me before I knew what was happening. I had a fiancé and 3 kids, and who knows where the guitar was, I can´t remember. So a few years back I bought a new one, the kids were getting bigger, so I would pick it up again.
I am planning to try to turn some of my poems into music. I think the poem “Soft as Tears” could be a fairly good song. But I still don´t get along with my “new” guitar. It is kind of when you get a new cell phone; you walk around it and give it the evil eye, almost consider poking it with a stick if it is making sounds or something like that. No, I just don´t have the time to sit down and start to play.
The cover art, I must say, I love it. Tell me how that drawing came about, and how you ended up using it for your poetry collection?
It is really provoking like the collection itself; it fits each other perfect.
The cover art is made by Pernille Folke and me. It is made back in the summer of 2012, and have been hanging on my wall ever since. I never even consider using it. I had another idea that I believed would be just perfect, but things don´t always go as you plan.
I like the first idea much better, but you called me up and told me you couldn´t make it work, so we tried another drawing, it sucked too, then you called me and said your boyfriend, Aston Merlin from Dark Mare Pictures, had asked why we didn´t used this drawing and added some blue lips on the belly. I loved the idea.
Pernille got the idea from a novel I am writing. I am still just making notes and researching.
So the madness has a deeper meaning.
You dedicated your poetry collection to Next Victory and Brandon Valo Lee, your lost boys. Can you tell us who they are, and why it was important to you to dedicate your first published work to them?
Next Victory is a beautiful trotter (horse) my mother gave me as a gift at my 30 years birthday. Her original plan was to give me a pony, so the kids could ride it, but we found Next and went to look at him. Something just happened that day. It was some kind of weird love at first sight. I was walking on my crutches that day which became Next´s favorite chew toy (he believed himself that he was a tiny little cute dog who could fit in a pocket. He tried to crawl into mine a countless number of times). There was a really special bond between me and Next. He did a lot of funny stuff with everybody else. He refused to lift his right front hoof if it wasn´t me, he sucked on my ear, and when I gave him apples he made sure I ate my bit before giving him the next piece. I had my own bodyguard there for a while, but I was always the one in control. I had to sell him a few months ago because of my bad knee and a riding accident last spring which didn´t involve Next.
Brandon Lee is the actor from the Crow, one of my favorite movies. Brandon was born last summer, and the name started as a joke. My mother bought this pregnant mare, and the first time I saw her I said the foal will be a stallion, he will be black with some white in the head, kind of like the crow, and I will call him Brandon Valo Lee. He was born looking like that, a fun story. He is a rock star. My mother sold him.
So they are my lost boys.
How do you write your poetry? Do you have a creative process like lighting candles or putting on music before you sit down to write, or does it just come to you without preparation?
I have no creative process at all. I just walk around with a notebook all the time and write what comes to mind when it comes to mind.
As a poet who inspired you? Do you read a lot of poetry yourself?
There is a lot that inspires me, the music I listen to, the stuff I read, movies, life etc… I do read some poetry, like Michael Strunge. Allen Edgar Poe. Leonard Cohen etc. I would like to see a poetry collection from Ville Valo someday. That could be very interesting.
Let’s get personal. It is hard to talk about poetry without digging a bit below the surface. A lot of your poems have a dark tone to them, hinting at a time in your life that has been rough. So, basically, tell me a little about yourself and your past.
They are a bit gloomy. My childhood was pretty rough. I had to learn to take care of myself and my siblings very fast. I can´t remember I lived with my parents till I was 7. I know I didn´t live with my grandfather, but I remember it like I did. He is a very important person in my life. He died when I was 16, and I felt like I lost my parents, so in my own opinion I am an orphan. My father accepts it, because he knows he wasn´t there, but he tried his very best. I do not talk much about my mother, but she is here. We don´t get a along very well, and as she says with her own words: she likes her horses better, they don´t talk back. And she never misses a chance to tell me that I wasn´t wanted in the first place.
Without saying too much I can say I had to go through more than most people, and just half of it would kill another person if they had to deal with it.
I am lucky to be alive. When I was about 15, somebody tried to kill me. It does not affect me much, because all the other stuff I have been through is so much worse. It did affect me a little. It is only a few years ago I started to use a scarf again without having the feeling that someone was trying to strangle me.
Because of it all, I choose to use an alias when I write because my private life is very important to me. I have been writing and published under my real name, but things went very fast for me. Suddenly I was an accepted name in some circles, and I got a lot of the crap that comes along, and I didn´t like it. My big passion is to write, and in the end of the day that is what matters.
I tried to use some of the knowledge I have about science and the universe as well in my poetry, and a few philosophical conversations with friends found their way into it as well.
You have chosen to self publish your poetry collection via Lulu and Amazon Kindle. Why not hold on for a publisher to take on your work?
I did. I had a publisher. But we couldn´t agree. That´s it.
What is the hardest part of self publishing? And what is the best part?
The hardest part is that I am a total technologic moron. So I had a lot of help by you. I use my laptop a lot, but it does a lot of weird stuff. Sometimes it is like: cool, how did I do that? I still think it will blow up one day. But it doesn’t matter as long as I can use my writing program even though it sometimes surprises me. You push a random button, and it does something I didn´t want it to do.
Can we expect a second poetry collection in the future? If so, will it be different from Blue Lips / Acoustic Suicide?
I am still writing, and one day I am sure there will be a new collection. I have some working titles: The Dream machine or Pop songs, but I am sure the title will be something very different than what I think it will be now.
I hope it will be different. I have some ideas, but you never know what it ends up with. Like Blue Lips is not as I planned it to be in the beginning. I didn´t even consider publishing it in the beginning.
I know you are writing on a book as well. Can you tell us what it is about, and what inspired you to start writing it?
Facebook. I am very interested in how the human mind works. Why do people need to be a fanatic fan; do we have a hive consciousness? Like bees. Sciences have proven we unconsciously communicate, like bees do consciously.
So my point is when I first got a profile on facebook, it shocked me how much time some people use on their idol, and what they a willing to do for a minute of attention. It is a very interesting topic. Many fanatic fans have a mental disease… and I could go on.
Any idea when we can hope to see it published?
As it is now, I would say it will be ready between sometime now and the day I die. I don´t know. I am trying to turn all my notes into a story and not just bits and pieces. I am having a kind of writes block with it.
As a side project you are writing on a fantasy book entitled “The Kiss, the Dragon and the Werewolf” which we are writing together. For the benefit of our readers: can you tell me a little about that book, and as well how did it come about?
I am not a fantasy writer, or I didn´t think I was, but I like it very much, and think it is funny.
I would say it is a very alternative fantasy story. We have made a whole new species and turned it all a little upside down. Small elves, human sized fairies and some very alternative personalities. I am kind of afraid to say too much about it. We have held the story in a light tone, but some of the topics in it are not light at all.
It started as a joke. You posted a picture on facebook of 2 guys kissing, I commented on it. I may have to say, we have been joking around for the past 2 years or so, that you are a werewolf, and I am a dragon. In that time, we have been writing a few crazy short stories as well, but mostly joking around. We have created a few other characters in that time. The Queen, the 2 kinds in the closet, the ballerina, the girl and the cowboy, and I am probably forgetting a few.
Suddenly one of us said: Let´s write a book. The other: That´s a deal. One of your friends saw it and said: I will buy that book. So we agreed… we better do it. Can´t sell a book without writing it. At this point it seems like we just are running wild with the story, but there is a meaning to the madness, and we know where it is going.
We talked about making the novel into a movie, so if I offered you a part in it now, who would you play, and why? And who do you see in the other parts? And who would you like to direct it?
I would love to play Elisabeth, (she is kind of based on me, like Veronica is kind of based on you.) Elisabeth is a bit naive, clumsy, she believes there is good in everyone, she has a heart of gold and she is a mountain I wouldn´t try to move. I could see myself dressed up like a cow, shaking my ass while I try to sing about, was it twitter and facebook?
I could see a lot of different people playing a role in it, we have a lot of lovely blue zombie trees, and somebody have to play them.
I would love Aston Merlin from Dark Mare Pictures, if he wants too and don´t think it is too crazy. We will probably end up doing it ourselves, like with everything else. Now I regret I didn´t stay at film school. Maybe Aston will be up for the challenge, because no matter what, it will be a challenge, since we probably will end up playing all the roles ourselves, making our friends play along.
What has it been like to work with another writer, collaborating on telling a story? Has it been a challenge, or has it been great fun?
So far it has been fun. I think we think a lot alike. Sometimes so alike that it scares me a bit. Like the time you where writing, and I was walking around thinking: all the story need is a fountain, and you wrote about a fountain.
One of the best things is that before we write something that changes the storyline, we have planed it, we talk about it. At the same time it is a challenge. I am glad I am writing with you, I don´t think I could write like this with any other.
I love the way you just catch it when I send something crazy your way like the green fairy, she is beyond mad, remember never to tell her she can fly.
Is it something you would do, or are already planning to do again?
I think the last time the 2 of us spoke on the phone we came up with an idea to a new novel. We have so many ideas that I am starting to wonder if we will end up starting a rock band when we are 70 (we have talked about it).
I would love to write with you anytime.
I have been talking to a young, in my opinion very talented, writer in India about writing a short story together or something like that.
What kind of books do you read? Any authors you find has inspired you more than others?
I like to read Nordic mythologies, historical fiction, there is a lot. I read a lot of crimes by Lisa Marklund. At the moment I am reading the Berlin Noir series by Philip Kerr. It takes place in Germany in the years between first and second World War.
When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
When I was 4 years old I just knew I wanted to write. I sat with my grandfather, reading my first book to him. He was always reading to me, I loved it.
I have always been writing poetry, small stories etc… but burned most of it.
You listen to a lot of music. Who is your favourite bands, and why is music important in your life?
Music is very important to me, have always been. I listen to a lot of different music. HIM is a band I have been listening to since I was 19. I never really get tired of them. There are so many talented musicians, I listen to a lot. To mention a few, Leonard Cohen, HIM, Sort Sol, L.O.C., Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Elvis, the Doors, Bon Jovi and so many more.
Do you play music yourself?
I used to play a lot of guitar, my plan is to start again, but I have been so lucky to get some nerve issues in both of my arms that may need surgery, so I am not so sure I will play again.
Who were your heroes while growing up?
Boy George and my grandfather. I have Cultures Clubs first album on vinyl standing next to my bed. When I was 2, I wanted to marry Boy George.
Like everybody else I had a lot of different heroes when I was growing up. In stile they make no sense at all. I listened to 2 Pac, Take That, Elvis, the Doors, Metallica, D.A.D. of cause and a lot of others.
If you could invite 3 people, living or dead, to a dinner party who would they be and why?
Dinner? I hope they don´t expect me to cock.
It would have to be Leonard Cohen, Ville Valo and L.O.C. a Danish rapper. It is not for the sake of their blue eyes, do they have blue eyes? They are 3 very talent gentlemen, so I think it could be very interesting to sit them down together and see what happens. As I see them, Cohen and L.O.C. are very outgoing, it seems like they look at the world and write about what they see. While it seems like Valo looks more inside.
The most interesting thing about it would be to see, who they are. You can´t tell what a human is like from the things they write. I would like to see the human, not the artist.
Now, you are a mother with three kids. How on earth do you find time to write anything at all?
I write when they are in school or late at night. I have been home sick for some years now, going to the hospital all the time, so I have a lot of time on my hands. It looks like it is a gen- failure… I just will have to learn to live with. I won’t know for sure the next few months.
My middle child had something to say about The Kiss, he said if it didn´t had a zombie in it, it would just suck big time. So we had to come up with some kind of zombie.
You are born and raised in Denmark, so English is not your birth language. Has it been difficult to write in English, and why did you choose to do so?
I am tested slightly dyslexic, but English is easier then Danish. But the more you read and write the better you get.
I have never considered being a bit dyslexic a problem, that is just who I am, I read perfectly, I can´t spell very well in Danish, but is easier to spell in English. And like with everything else, the more you do it, the better you get, and I am stubborn as hell.
Do you find that networking, such as Face Book, Twitter and the likes, makes it easier to reach a wider audience when it comes to promoting your work?
It is easier, the world is smaller, but I am very suspicious when I talk to people online about their motives and stuff. I am just born very suspicious. It takes time to build an audience. I have built one once before I decided to use an alias. I had a little but faithful audience. I am sure they will find me again.
I am not good at promoting my book. I find it very hard to do. I am better at promoting other peoples work as my brother always says. I would be able to sell sand in Sahara if I wanted to.
In a perfect world, what would your future look like? What are your hopes and dreams?
In a perfect world, I would be able to write and have my privacy at the same time.
In a perfect world, I would be able to live off my books.
Any advice you would like to offer upcoming writers on writing and publishing?
Hmm, don´t let anyone tell you how you should write. Some will try to make you fit into what they believe. Be yourself, and do what you find is right for you.
Think it through when and if you get an offer, not everything that shines are diamonds.
Anything else you would like to add?
I have had a lot of people believing in me, and you Veronica has been a big help to me with editing etc. You are my sister in crime.
So I try to give something back by helping new artists when I see they have talent. It is not always I personally like what they write or draw, but if they do it in a way were I see there is a real talent that just needs to be helped on the way, maybe the artist needs someone who believe in him or her or help with the spelling, then I do it.
A lot of people are ready to tell you, what they think you will hear. Like I have been given a few complements, I heard I write as good as Poe, better than Ville Valo. I don’t know about that, and it doesn´t mean a lot to me, because I believe the best complement you ever can get as an artist, is when somebody tells you, you inspired them to write or draw. It would be wrong to compare yourself with other artists; every artist is different and does things in their own way, which make them all unique.
All that remains then is for me to thank you for your time and wish you the best of luck in the future.
You are welcome and thank you…
Blue Lips/ Acoustic Suicide, by Noel Heart are available on Amazon as an e-book/kindle and on Lulu.com as a paperback.
Half of the interview is also published here,