Menschen des 21. Jahrhunderts: Anthony McCarten, the kiwi-novelist

Künstler aus Neuseeland? Beim „Herr der Ringe“-Regisseur Peter Jackson hört es meist schon auf. Anthony McCarten (Jahrgang ’61) ist einer der erfolgreichsten neuseeländischen Autoren, der zahlreiche Romane, Theaterstücke und Drehbücher verfasst hat. Als 25-jähriger schrieb er „Ladies Night“, ein Stück über vier Arbeitslose, die eine Männerstrip-Gruppe gründen. Unter dem Titel „Ganz oder gar nicht“ wurde das ein großer Kinoerfolg. Sein 2006 erschienener Roman „Superhero“ (Diogenes) ist in diesem Jahr im Kino zu sehen. Außerdem erscheinen dieses Jahr mit „In The Absence Of Heroes“ und „Brilliance“ zwei neue Bücher von ihm.

© Novelist Anthony McCarten Discusses Show of Hands

What was the best thing that happened at work today?
I found an old short story of mine that I’d long ago put aside and I read it and thought it was pretty good, although it did seem to be written by a stranger, which in many ways it was.

What are your goals in life?
These haven’t changed much since I was six years old – to try to be good, to eat my greens, to be picked on the winning team, to not swear or tell lies or beat up Rory Wilkinson, to stop at red lights, to get to heaven in whatever form it exists.

Which profession did you believe to be the most exciting when you were a child?
The mobile van ice-cream man.

What, at the age of twenty, did you think you would be doing today?
I’d hoped I’d be a rock star but thought I’d probably be selling shoes or toothpaste or something because I really hated getting out of bed at any hour.

How did the world change since then?
It got warmer.

What helped you to excel so quickly at your career?
A sense of humour, I suspect, and a feeling that the world owes me nothing.

How much are „hard work“ and „luck/coincidence“ responsible for your success (percentage-wise)?
0% Luck. Success has been built on going from failure to failure with no decline in enthusiasm.

What helps you to accomplish your work?
A passionate desire to grow at least one perfect flower in the manure of my mind.

What has been the biggest mistake in your worklife so far?
Thinking it would EVER be easy.

What does failure mean to you?
99.9% of the time Failure is the logical result of trying to do something new.

Is there anything from your worklife your are especially proud of?
Yeah – getting to where I am now, writing this questionnaire for a German magazine, and thinking that someone in another country is going to read this.

How have your studies helped you to succeed at work?
Study is fine, so long as you don’t let it interfere with your education.

What causes you despair?
Stupidity, Brutality, the predictable and endless failures of our species to deserve the mantle ‚civilised‘.

How do you grade or rank the universities you studied at?
I went to two – the first was for rural farming types and so was full of rural farming types – I didn’t fit in. The second was full of sons and daughters of lawers and business types – I didn’t fit in.

How do you think your colleagues describe you when you are not present?
Fortunately I have no colleagues, but I get on pretty well with other people so they might have some kind things to say of me.

Do you have a role model, and if so, what have you learned from him or her?
I have all number of literary role models, those whose voices have influenced me, but beyond this, I think we struggle to be free of the shaping influence of our parents – this is the most lasting role model – and from mine I have learned the value of perseverance.  My father worked three jobs and my mother had seven children. I watched this. I learned.

What do you appreciate about your colleagues?
Their non-existence.

How do you incorporate worklife and private life?
This is a professional hazard for a writer. There really is no separation for me. When you become a professional your enchantment with life is always paced by an anxiety to set it down on paper. Added to which, the end of one job is automatically the beginning of another – without let up. Oh well …

Where would you like to work most?
In the most silent place in the world, free of all interruptions, until 5 pm that is, when I’d like that silent space to be flooded by good friends bearing bottles of wine.

If you had to give our readers a piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t take advice from strangers in magazines – make your own mistakes. How else are you going to learn anything?

Please complete the following sentence: „Something more important than a career would be …
… successful career.“

Stand: Dezember 2011