After our first exclusive interview five years ago, we persuaded enigmatic novelist and musician Solomon Traycer to write for Mark: My Words a couple of times. Alas, a combination of his other commitments and our inability to pay a decent fee meant the arrangement was short-lived, although we did obtain another exclusive when we unveiled the artwork for the new Traycer Band album in 2015.
Now, after months of negotiation, we’re delighted to have caught up with the man himself once more! So read on for revelations, not one but two rather stunning announcements and, inevitably, more questions than answers.
Given that the M:MW “offices” still consist of a damp shed in my back garden, we needed a venue befitting the man who once described the Palace of Versailles as “in need of improvement” (adding, rather oddly, that he, “had words more than once with Marie Antoinette about the chandeliers,”). Unfortunately, with a budget of £18.23 we had to make do with the lobby of the Premier Inn in Biggleswade, where we furtively shipped in supplies from Lidl to avoid paying for “afternoon tea”. To Solomon’s credit, once again, he was graciousness personified.
MMW: Solomon, thank you so much for meeting us again today. We’re really excited to spend the next hour with you…
ST: Next hour? My people told me 20 minutes.
MMW: 20…fine. OK. Good. Let’s get started, then, and talk music. The Staircase was a huge hit for the Traycer Band in Germany, Finland and Spain but struggled in other countries, not least the UK. Were you disappointed?
ST: Disappointed? Disappointed? That we sold 300,000 CDs and download thingies? Why would I be disappointed? And Finland happens to be one of my favourite haunts. Did you know there’s a place called the Rock Church in Helsinki? We thought it might be a potential concert venue but it turned out to be a church…built into the rock! What a hoot!
MMW: A…hoot, sure. We heard that ROTA Records wanted you to do a promotional tour where the album didn’t do so well but you turned them down. Why was that?
ST: We were happy with the success we had. The record company had more than covered their costs, and, frankly, I don’t have the stamina for back-to-back touring. Don’t get me wrong; I love the whole on-stage thing, but after hundreds of years my bones are rather past their best, y’know.
MMW: When you say hundreds of years, do you mean you felt you’d been on the road a long time?
ST: Sorry…only 12 minutes left. Shall we talk about the books? Though I say it myself, I was rather pleased with A Kingdom Divided in the end.
MMW: And rightly so. Top 5 of the bestseller list for nine months in 2014, and subsequently translated into seven other languages – not least Russian!
ST: I know! Given that my portrayal of Stalin and the USSR wasn’t exactly flattering, I was simply in raptures when Vladimir called to let me know.
MMW: That’s Vladimir from your publishing company?
ST: Noooo, not exactly. Acquaintance of mine in Moscow. Gosh, what a place. Seen a few rum goings-on, has Moscow. Once the October Revolution kicked off in ’17, I got out of there sharpish, I can tell you.
MMW: Revolution…? You mean 2017?
ST: Then of course after A Kingdom Divided I caved in to the jolly old public, bless ’em, and wrote another in the Rider of the Ages series. And before you ask, no I don’t know if it’ll be the last. I’ve given up answering that question. Except to say that eleven doesn’t seem a very satisfactory number of books in a series…
MMW: So there may be a successor to Destiny of the Ages?
ST: Ah, the jolly old ink’s barely dry on the last one. But I have had some very interesting discussions with a possible collaborator.
MMW: Oh, wow! A joint venture between Solomon Traycer and…
ST: …someone who of course must remain anonymous for now. Yes, we’re looking at it. I think her vast experience of affairs of state could feed marvellously into an Ages story focusing on interplanetary diplomacy, for example.
MMW: Affairs of state? You don’t mean…?
ST: Shhhh! No guessing! I promised her and Phil total anonymity. And she’d use a pseudonym, naturally. As do I.
MMW: Wait, what? Solomon Traycer’s not your real name? So what is…
ST: Gosh, would you look at that; our time’s gone. Sorry to dash like this; it’s been simply outstanding. Hmmmmm…how could I get “outstanding” and “Biggleswade” into a lyric, d’you think? Sorry, I never stop; the band are pushing me to record again so I guess we need something to record!
MMW: Thank you, Mr Traycer, it’s been fascinating, as always.
ST: I believe the modern parlance is “no sweat bro'” or something. Although with modern antiperspirant one rather takes that for granted. Anyway, must dash. One last thing:
MMW: What’s that?
ST: I prefer Aldi to Lidl.