NiteTalk: Scot Scribe Neil Forsyth is About to Make Your Night

He got close enough to a credit card fraudster to write the man's wild (and ruined) life ("Other People's Money"); he had an internet scammer in Nigeria commit to selling him a talking lion ("Delete This at Your Peril"); and he sometimes roams the streets of Dundee pretending to be a 64-year-old window cleaner. He also got himself appointed National President of a Football Association for a country that is nothing more than a former military platform (Sealand), and he's earned the enmity of South African soccer fans by maligning their cherished plastic horns (vuvuzelas). Now he's coming to town to hawk a novel about a fallen medium who'll never really get the message ("Let Them Come Through"). He is Scot author and all-around gadabout Neil Forsyth, and he's gonna make your night.

What exactly is a vuvuzela and why do you hate it so much? It's a s---ty trumpet-type instrument favored by South African football fans, and the droning of thousands of them during each World Cup game this summer made watching the matches truly torturous. Every journalist around ended up slating the vuvuzela at the World Cup, but I've been crowned online as the first writer to voice this particular hate, and that's a title I accept with both gracious humility and intense pride.

But football fans have been making a racket forever, why is this any different? Because it's different. It's not a noise in reaction to the game -- for example cheering or singing from fans. They start blowing them at kick off and are presumably still blowing them on the bus home.

Have there been any other recent developments in football fandom that have helped take some of the fun outta the game? Yeah: all-seater stadiums. When I was thirteen I used to write for the Dundee United (my Scottish team) fanzine and then go and stand behind the goal with the more lively fans. When we scored you would wind up about twenty meters from where you were originally standing. And the swearing was magnificent. You still get a decent level of swearing, but now it's all plastic seats.

Let's move on. Like many a creative type, you're coming to Miami to sell something. What have you got? My novel "Let Them Come Through" - the story of a medium who watches, aghast, as his life falls apart around him. It's pretty dirty, too. In fact, I can give the page numbers of the dirty bits if that helps.

Now that you've written both fiction and non-fiction, have you found that fact really is the stranger of the two? It's impossible to write a truly factual book, and biography is a long way from factual. You're hearing the story from someone who is hopelessly biased; then it travels through you, with all your judgments, to the page. Biography to novel is a very short step.

I wouldn't say fact is stranger than fiction, I would just say it's more annoying, because other considerations get in the way of the writing. You have to research, talk to lawyers, keep your interviewees happy with their depiction -- all that bollocks.

Speaking of strange facts, were you aware that you're also an acclaimed authority on Satan?
I got an e-mail from [the other Neil Forsyth] a couple of years ago; he said he was facing some strange questions at dinner parties. I keep meaning to read his book "The Old Enemy," it sounds brilliant.

Did you know that Ontario's McMaster University offers a prize in your name that was established by the Steel Founders' Society of America to honor your outstanding service to the steelcastings industry? Yes, and the day that Ontario's McMaster University told me they had decided to offer that prize in my name was one of the most rewarding of my young life. If you cut me open, I'd bleed Ontario McMaster University. Every Sunday afternoon you'll find me desperately looking for the results of their various sports teams.

Rumor is you may also be Bob Servant, the Hero of Dundee. Is that so? Yes. The novels are all well and good. But my true literary legacy is going to be pretending to be a 64-year-old Scottish window-cleaner, and that is something I have just about accepted. I've written two books as Bob Servant and am signed up for two more. Brian Cox played him on BBC radio and we're hoping to adapt it for TV. I also tweet as Bob Servant, come join me.

How do you balance it all out? I don't. I like the variety, jumping from one project to the next. I wouldn't want to write in one genre -- I think that would send me mad. And I think if you want to diversify as a writer then you should do it from the start otherwise it gets harder and harder.

Neil Forsyth appears on Jan 4, 7 p.m. at Books and Books 927 Lincoln Road, South Beach.


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