John’s story, “The Icarus Option” is about Joe Hill, a man with a terminal illness who is tired of this life. Modern gadgets have removed all real fun, familiar buildings are crumbling, and art and tradition all but forgotten. The answer he is looking for may lie in an old painting, The Fall of Icarus, and a popular new business called Thanatos. John is a good friend of mine and I’m happy to introduce him to everyone.
Marie Gilbert: It’s so nice to chat with you John, I’m a big fan of your writing. What type of stories do you enjoy writing the most?
John Farquhar: I enjoy writing comedy. Often, I like my stories to have a satirical edge, but if I can create scenes of farce and celebrations of how deeply and unashamedly stupid we all are (myself included), that gives me the feeling of a job well done. ‘The Icarus Option’ is slightly darker than my usual style, but the same attitude to life is there, I think.
MG: What was the inspiration for this particular story?
JF: Like the main character, I saw Brueghel’s painting The Fall of Icarus when I was young, and loved it. It was also one of the few paintings that has ever made me laugh. Brueghel updates Icarus’ fall (the landscape in his picture is Flemish, and the people are of his own time, not Greek), and I just wanted to continue this trend. Ovid’s poem about Icarus was also one of the first Latin poems that I read in the original.
MG: Not to give anything away, but would you choose this “way to go” if you were very sick?
JF: I’d have to be an idiot….
MG: Tell us about your recently published book.
John Farquhar: What to Expect When You’re Dead has been selling pretty well among college students in particular. I haven’t marketed it as forcefully as I should have, but I’m working on this and, when I re-read it, it still makes me laugh, which is a good sign.
MG: What other stories are you working on?
John Farquhar: The summer has been very productive and I am about to finish a book of twelve short stories, all connected to Ireland, called ‘Taking Cathleen Home’. The original title was ‘The Turd Man’, but I wasn’t sure if this was literary enough. ‘The Turd Man’ is the opening story and there is another story called ‘Brave Fart’ which I’m very proud of. Sad news, though: when I finished writing ‘Brave Fart’, my Muse came to me in a dream that very night, and shot herself. So, if anyone is involved with a Muse, and it isn’t working out for the two of you, do send her to me. (I prefer my Muse to be female, but, what the Hell, if you have a guy who isn’t doing it for you on the imaginative level, send the schmuck along. I’m Irish). This, indeed, is the point about the book: having been born in England, and currently living in America, I’m finally beginning to feel that Ireland is my home.
MG: Has belonging to a writer’s group helped you and why you would recommend it to others?
John Farquhar: I never thought I would find people more eccentric than I am, but I have found two so far in the SJWG. No praise could be higher. If you are not yet a member, join us, you hesitant weirdo, as soon you read this!
John, it’s been a true pleasure interviewing you again and I wish you best of luck on your new adventures.
About the interviewer:
Marie Gilbert is a ghost-hunting, zombie-fighting, steampunk comic book superhero in disguise as a grandma from South Philadelphia. She blogs about television and film for Biff Bam Pop and Go Jane News, and served as co-editor of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. Her book Roof Oasis, first in a series of apocalyptic tales with a twist, is now available. You can read more about her adventures at her not-so-top-secret online HQ, Gilbert Curiosities.