Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012 Page: 24 of 56
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LI FEf STYLE
Gay novelist Richard
Mason likes doing
things the hard way
RICH LOPEZ I Staff Writer
The charm that novelist Richard
Mason exudes is undeniable.
Words fall from his South
African accent crisply, enunciated to
perfection even as he talks rapidly.
Rarely at a loss for words, ideas seem
to flow in his head at a river's pace
and while he brushed on myriad top-
ics, including his just-released fourth
novel, History of a Pleasure Seeker, and
his plans for his already-plotted next
book. Yeah, he's that guy — the over-
achiever we all want to be.
But Mason's personable aura in-
stead makes you root for him. And
it's refreshing to know the handsome
gay writer isn't Superman... despite
an unavoidable resemblance to Clark Kent.
"Well, it is hard to juggle While doing this and
researching a new book," he admits. "You really
got to keep on putting creative energy to the new
book, but then I struggle to read whatever every-
one else thinks and do these sorts of interviews.
Both are distracting."
Mason was 18 when his first novel, The
Drouming People, was published during his first
year at Oxford. Rave reviews and bestseller lists
cemented his place in pop-lit, so he took his time
with his follow-up, 2005's Us, which continued
his winning streak.
Mason's complexities may lie in his being
bipolar; his heart is set on the memory of his sis-
ter Kay, Who died when he was a child. With that
and an exposed life to arts and literature across
Europe, Mason has created a universe of charac-
ters in his rich, sophisticated novels.
CLARK KENT OR SUPERMAN? | Despite techno aspects of his new novel that include an upcoming smartphone app, Richard Mason
wrote 'History of a Pleasure Seeker' in longhand. (Photo courtesy Michael Lionstar)
With Seeker, he's set
the scene in bourgeois
Amsterdam, centered on
the handsome Piet Barol
and his foray into the
upper classes. Mason
will discuss the book Fri-
day in Dallas as part of
the Arts and Letters Live
series at the Dallas Mu-
seum of Art.
"I really wan t to create
this constellation of novels in that you could read
my first six books in any order," he says. "This
character demanded a book of his own. I made
him Dutch, because I wanted to write about Hol-
Mason is glad to have an audience, though on
his Twitter feed, he confessed disappointment
that people weren't getting the true point of the
book. "So far no one has noticed that History of a
Pleasure Seeker is a story about God/r he tweeted,
and not just the tale of a social-climbing Dutch
boy. Mason makes the strong point that to create
a fictional world without the notion of God or
spirituality, a chief element of humanity would
"Every character relates to God quite strongly
they've made pacts with God," he says. "No-
body seems to notice that. They think it's about
:sex. You can't create a fully dimensional charac-
ter without talking about their spiritual life, but
it's the same about talking their erotic experi-
ences. All that is what it means to be human."
Mason moved to New York City in 2010 with
his partner of 12 years. The demands of the city
didn't offer him much quiet time to write, but at
the same time^ he thrives in the artistic atmos-
phere and excites over the endless collaborative:
possibilities. He says the jury is still out on his
living there because he finds him-
self yearning for his tent in South
Africa, where he did research.
But his collaborations paid off
for Seeker—this will be the first
novel to have its own smart-
phone app (it comes out in May).
Mason researched certain sounds he imagined
while writing or even songs playing in the back-
ground. He worked with artists and developers
to create a full-on interactive reading experience.
Ironically, despite a technological approach to
literature, he sat and wrote Seeker by hand.
"Writing it was a profoundly different mental
process to write out, but with a computer, you
never see the architecture of the text," he says.
"The app came about having spent a year in that
tent. The way I write has real buildings, things to
sm and hear. When you're reading where Piet
says goodbye, a man playing music in the back.
You can set the level of your own imaginable en-
gagement to the book. I think it's an inspired
Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N.
Harwood St Feb. 17.7 p.m. $10.
new way of telling a story and I got to work with
terrific artists to make it exciting.''
Mason doesn't write gay books per se, but he
applies his same philosophy to queer characters
as he does the notion of God.
"It's important to give the exposure of gay
characters," he explains. "Once you've Written a
number of novelSj you can't create a world with-
out them. There is a more profound truth from
that now. I don't know how you
can avoid writing about gay ex-
For an international, jet-set-
ting author, Mason leads a very
normal-sounding life. He and
his partner recently celebrated
their 12-year anniversary but they don't "do"
Valentine's Day. He complains about the emails
he has to trim down which is an ongoing saga on
his Twitter feed and he's prefers a healthy and
Zen way of life oyer "the raunchy gay Scene" of
NeW York as the London Evening Standard de-
scribed in an interview with Mason last year. He
cleverly responded, "You can throw yourself into
a life of debauched hedonism or you can live a
soberlife of self-improvement, meditation, per-
sonal trainers and 12-step programs. I'm trying
to stick to the second, with just a little bit of the
first for fun."
But first he has to concentrate on his next
Here’s what’s next.
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Wright, John. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 17, 2012, newspaper, February 17, 2012; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239207/m1/24/: accessed December 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.