What better way to start your 50s than write your first semi-fictionalised biography taking inspiration from your youth-filled music days? Kieran O’Mahony spoke to Carl Plover, aka Wasps Vs Humans, about his inspiration for The Mattress
PUNK, poet, scriptwriter and now an established author, there are many caps that fit Carl Plover, who performs under the moniker Wasps Vs Humans. While he has been entertaining audiences with his unique poetry style performance since 2009 around Cork and beyond, this is the first time the Lincoln-born artist has written a novel, one that certainly packs a punch and throws back to the mid-1980s, when Karl was full of the enthusiasm of youth and experimenting in music.
Mixing fact with fiction, failure and a sense of nearly, the author is in the throes of a midlife crisis and in the midst of heavy dose of antibiotics and cough mixture as he begins to remember back to a time in his youth, when bills, a mortgage, kids and the job didn’t matter. It was a time of parties, music, girls, getting up late and no responsibilities.
It was an old music video that got Karl initially thinking about his youth and putting it to paper.
‘It all started when a friend of mine, who was in a band with me years ago called Monkey with Clothes On, told me that there was a video of one of our concerts which I never knew existed,’ says Carl.
‘So it was interesting looking at myself and my head would have been in a completely different place as well. I started thinking then about where I was and I remember the gig and walking back to the house where I lived in and there was a party going on and I remember the couches in the room and that was the starting point.’
The book is divided into rooms, each with a story to tell, as he walks through the house remembering his friends once housed within its walls.
‘I wanted to write about my previous life but I thought it would be really nice to set it in one year,’ Carl says.
‘I had no responsibilities then, no mortgage, no kids and you’ve got all the freedom in the world but you don’t know what to do with the freedom.’
His previous experience in scriptwriting certainly helped Carl in writing The Mattress.
‘It was very different to the performing but I have a degree in scriptwriting for film and television so I’m used to writing. Before I started writing this book I structured the chapters out so I had the whole story planned out before I began.
‘The characters are all based on real people but there’s a mixture of fact and fiction and a bit of fantasy and I’ve taken real characters and twisted and changed things too. Some of it is truth and some isn’t.’
The freedom of that time manifests itself in Carl’s writing style.
‘There are no rules and it’s written in a different way,’ he says.
‘I go off on tangents with poetic sections, storytelling sections and I’ve got a narrator going through it and I’ve got characters that readers may relate to from their past. We all have pasts and it’s that sense of freedom that we all had when we were young I guess, and the character in the book is having a mid-life crisis and is looking back on his life.
‘I don’t think I’m having a mid-life crisis, I’m quite happy.’
Not content with writing his debut novel, Carl has also co-written a play called The Nearly Men with a friend of his, Simon Clarke, and he’s even going to star in it, which is another challenge for him as he’s never acted before.
‘I give myself a challenge each year!’ joked Carl.
The Mattress by Wasps Vs Humans is on general release now and available to buy on southernstar.ie/shop , from the Southern Star office in Skibbereen and Kerr’s Bookshop in Clonakilty. Carl will perform a set, including extracts from the book, at the Sitting Room Sessions at De Barra’s in Clonakilty on March 1st.