Interview with John Preston
13th September 2035. By Sangita Ifors
SI – Thank you for agreeing to the interview.
JP – Hey, I love what you do. I think I’ve read all your books, and I subscribe to your blog. That piece you did about Springsteen’s legacy was amazing. How did you get access to his diaries?
SI – Oh, the family were very … hey, who’s doing this interview?
JP – laughs
SI – Before we start, is anything off limits?
JP – Seventh album, track 8. We don’t talk about it.
SI – I’m sorry?
JP – It was a mistake. We should never have tried disco. It didn’t suit us.
SI – Umm, Do you mean ‘Staked By Mistake?’ That’s not disco.
JP – You see, that’s exactly what I mean. We can’t do disco. We shouldn’t have tried.
SI – OK.
SI – But we can talk about anything else?
JP – Anything honey. Oh, Mary sends her regards. What’s going on there? She sounded a bit sarcastic, that’s not like her. Is there something up between you? I hope not, because Mary is one of my favourite daughters-in-law, and you’re a sweet girl too.
SI – I think she got the wrong end of the stick, about an interview I wanted to do with your son Bill.
JP – ‘slaps forehead’. Oh, now I remember. Yeah. Of course. Hmm, you were never going to get anywhere with Bill. Not without marrying him, anyway. He’s that type. Now, me … if I was younger, and wasn’t married to two scary, scary women …
SI – I’m flattered. Now, the interview?
JP – Yes? Where were we?
SI – Can we start with your childhood?
JP – Sure.
SI – You were raised by your mum?
JP – My mother, and my auntie Fran … Mark’s Mum.
SI – They were sisters?
JP – No, they were married to twins. There was a bit of a kerfuffle back when I was little, and my father and his brother had to disappear. My mum and Auntie Fran went into some kind of half assed hiding … they moved to Ulverston and cut off contact with their families. It was really traumatic for them, but they were great, they managed to keep me and Mark safe.
SI – Safe?
JP – From the White Pack … old news, all in the past … a group of werewolves who wanted to find and kill any shapeshifters who weren’t drinking their kool aid.
SI – I guess that’s all been well documented … how did it feel to grow up with no family but your mum, aunt and cousin?
JP – I didn’t know any different. We were all very, very close, which made things easier when my mother died. I was only fifteen. Most lads, that would have thrown them way off track, but I had Fran and Mark, and there was no question about me moving in with them. I already spent half my time there anyway, and the rest of the time Mark was at my house.
SI – So, you’re more brothers than cousins?
JP – Half brothers anyway, genetically. Our dads were identical twins.
SI – How did your mum’s death affect you?
JP – It kinda … this makes me sound like a bit of a shit, but the main thing was that it cramped my style a bit. Mum was cool about guitars and amps, and girls and beer. Auntie Fran wasn’t. Mark and I had to find somewhere else to practice loudly. Funny thing, Fran was fine about acoustic stuff, if we stayed up late, playing, she’d leave her bedroom door open and listen to us. She was a second mum to me, right from the start. I think that helped a lot, when my mother passed away. Not that I didn’t miss my mum, I loved her to bits, I still do, she was a huge influence on me. It’s just that she and Fran both knew that my mum was dying, and they arranged things between them.
SI – How did your mum influence you?
JP – Mum was a party girl, she loved men, she liked to dance, she loved music, she liked to get buzzed now and again, drink, dope, mostly, now and again a trank or some speed … she was also kind, generous, lots of fun, and very, very beautiful. I kinda worshipped her. She taught me to love women, but more importantly, to like women. Girls dig that.
SI – When did you find out what happened to your dad?
JP – When my uncle Anthony made contact for the first time, back when the White Pack attacked Whitby. That’s when I found out that my father was dead. That hurt more than I expected it to. Mark was in bits too. Diana held us together that day. That woman … she scares the shit out of me, but I don’t know where I’d be without her.
SI – Your relationship with Diana was public at the start, then she faded into the background for a long time …
JP – Her choice, not mine.
SI – And Donna? Your wife? You said, after the honeymoon, that you met her through Diana …
JP – Well, yes, that’s true, but not strictly speaking how we spun it at the time. Me and Donna, it was love at first sight. Same as me and Di, really, but Diana didn’t know about it for a year or two.
SI – Diana was in love with you but didn’t know?
JP – No, I’m not that much of a twat. She didn’t know that I was in love with her. Things were complicated. Lies, secrets, more lies. Anyway, that was long ago and far away. Well, Manchester. Not that far away.
SI – OK. How did the shapeshifter thing affect your music?
JP – How does the being female thing affect your writing? It’s a daft question, I’ve never known anything else, not really. Ummm, I guess I have more time than most musicians, to practise, to write … we don’t need much sleep, and we’re rarely ill. Then again … have you heard of Eric Ransome, my son-in-law? He did a list of shifter traits, years ago. He mentioned that we’re obsessive, but that we avoid addictive stuff. I think it’s an advantage, we never did drugs, other than booze. Not even tobacco. I tried it, but got bored pretty quickly, Mark always hated it. Anyway, maybe that affects us, as musicians, being straight, I mean.
SI – Straight?
JP – Drug wise. Oh? You’re fishing? No, my train doesn’t stop at that station, never really even slowed down for it. Got no big objection, morally, or anything … my two best mates shagged each other, which was a bit of a surprise at first, but you know, it’s not that big a deal. And my kids … they change sex, shape shifting, some of ’em.
SI – Have you ever considered …?
JP – No. I’m male, I like being male. Besides, they’re a lot more talented than me, when it comes to changing how they look. I can be me, or a wolf. That’s it. I’m crap at it, to be honest.
SI – What’s it like, being a wolf?
JP – The biggest rush in the world. Really, I have to ration myself. If I do it for too long, I get drawn in. The world is so different, so exciting, so much simpler and then so much more complicated.
SI – Oh, our time is nearly up. Umm. If you could change anything about your life, what would it be?
JP – I’d go and find Diana and Donna a lot earlier. I begrudge every day I didn’t know them.
SI – And, what’s your advice for aspiring rock musicians?
JP – Never try disco, ever.