Eliza Clark’s incendiary debut novel Boy Parts, released this week by Influx Press is a pitch-black comedy both shocking and hilarious, fearlessly exploring the taboo regions of sexuality and gender roles in the twenty-first century. Clark’s protagonist, Irina, scouts the streets of Newcastle, obsessively taking explicit photographs of the average-looking men she persuades to model for her.
Placed on sabbatical from her dead-end bar job, she is offered an exhibition at a fashionable London gallery, promising to revive her career in the art world and offering an escape from her rut of drugs, alcohol, and extreme cinema. The news triggers a self-destructive tailspin, centred around Irina’s relationship with her obsessive best-friend, and a shy young man from her local supermarket who has attracted her attention…
The Momus Questionnaire was created by musician Nick Currie, and is designed to identify the aspects of the subject’s personality which give them a positive self-image, or ‘subcultural capital’.
Have you rebelled against someone else’s dreary expectations of your life, and become something more unexpected?
I’m not really an actively rebellious person — but I am quite pigheaded, and I tend to do what I want. As a general rule, I think the expectation around me has always been fairly high? I was quite an intellectually precocious child, and am generally one of those annoying people who can get away with coasting/half-arsing stuff and still achieve academically — so there was always the feeling that if I applied myself, I could do anything I wanted, and I’ve sort of always wanted to be a writer. My Mam used to tell me I couldn’t just be a writer (having an oddly prescient view of author “portfolio careers” in 2020) so I’ve very much met the expectation that I’d be a writer and also do something else, I suppose!
What in your life can you point to and say, like Frankie, ‘I Did It My Way’?
Referring to my previous answer, things either get done my way, in my own time or it they don’t tend to get done. It’s annoying, and I wish I was better at following instructions and Doing The Stuff I’m Supposed to Do because I think I’d be less anxious and more productive. I’m like a spoilt cat that won’t get in the pet-carrier or eat the dry food you’re trying to give me. Basically, I have big Garfield energy (BGE).
What creative achievements are you most proud of?
Getting a book deal at 25 is pretty good. Getting an actual book published was sort of My Ultimate Goal, and I hadn’t projected I’d manage to do it till I was, at the very least, in my late 30s so I’m not sure how I’m going to top it. Feel free to @ me with your new Life Goal suggestions.
If there was one event in your life which really shaped you, made you the person you are today, what would it be?
When I was about 6 my maternal grandmother suffered from vascular dementia, and we spent a lot of time visiting her dementia wards and homes. It was a very early point to become aware of the fragility of personhood, and a brutal introduction to the process of dying at it’s most painful, humiliating and drawn out, as well as death itself. I’d say I am still terrified of death and the possibility of getting dementia, and this has been quite a big motivator in wanting to produce creative work. To have evidence that I did exist, and wanting to have some sort of legacy has been a drive for me. I am really hoping that at some time in the next 60 years or so, we’ll reach the singularity and I’ll be able to upload myself into the cloud, and be on some San Junipero shit for eternity.
If you had to make a song or rap boasting about your irresistible charm and sexiness, how would you describe yourself?
I’ve spent ages staring at this question and writing things and everything I put makes me cringe so violently I delete it. The wave of hypothetical embarrassment at having written a boastful rap, and the second hand embarrassment of imagining someone reading it and feeling embarrassed for me is too much. You’ve trapped me in a hypothetical cringe loop.
Have you ever made material sacrifices because of your integrity?
In February I took a huge paycut to work for a creative writing charity because I couldn’t hack corporate. In December one of my bosses was willing Boris to win the election and I upset someone at the Christmas party with a tory joke. I worked for a company that dealt in public policy, and they were pushing “not donating directly to the homeless” really hard. I went to an “event” promoting not-donating, along with these sticking plaster “tap to donate £3” stations. I could not hack another moment, so I handed my notice in a couple of days later without another job lined up. NEVER AGAIN!
Describe a public personality who exemplifies everything you’d like to be yourself, then another public personality who incarnates everything you’d least like to be.
I try my best not to idolise any public personalities, as they always tend to be really disappointing in the end. I have been burnt too many times by too many cancellations. However; Michael Palin seems like a lovely bloke, doesn’t he? I love Monty Python, and while Gilliam and Cleese have turned into a pair of gammony nightmares, Palin remains wholesome and avuncular. I too, would like to be known as someone who is funny, wholesome and gentle. If you have any negative information about Michael Palin, please do not pass it on, I can’t do this again.
Everything I’d least like to be is a tough one because there are so many terrible people. I’d probably go for Lionel Shriver, because I used to really admire her as a writer and apart from a racist, she’s just really unnecessarily abrasive, combative and hostile. I’ve heard a couple of horror stories from staff who’d had to work with her at festivals, and I don’t think I’d ever want to be the kind of person who people have horror stories about.
I was also working as a marketing assistant for Mslexia when Shriver got dropped as the judge of their 2018 short story competition, so she did legit fuck up like two weeks of my life. A certain wife of a certain Minister of the Cabinet Office took the liberty of covering the incident for an Infamous News Website, so part of my job just became wading through Nazis on Twitter and keeping an eye out for any credible threats. Minging.
If you were an Egyptian pharoah and had to be buried with a few key objects to take to the next world, what would they be?
I would like to be buried with all of my gameboys, all of my pokemon cartridges, as well as the Nintendo switch.
Do you have a favourite joke, quotation or proverb?
Honestly, I am a big fan of the wide mouthed frog joke. Heard it when I was nine and I’m forever chasing the high of hearing the wide mouthed frog joke for the first time.
What’s your favourite portrait (it can be a song, a painting, a film, anything)?
Hard to argue with the Hans Holbein portrait of Anne of Cleeves. Holbein is the original Instagram filter. Holbein was Facetune back when faces really badly needed to be tuned because they were covered in small pox scars. Go girl, photoshop yourself into the British monarchy, get it, yes queen.