welcomes as our guest David Hutter, author of Fake News.

David was born and raised in Germany, and he spent two years in Italy before moving to London fifteen years ago to study creative writing at university. Since graduating in 2006, he has worked as a writer and editor for various publications, but always planned to write satirical books. His first one, a novella about Donald Trump that imagines how things might pan out if the Donald was involved in incidents that are similar to some obscure and bizarre historical events, is out now.

Norm: Good day David and thanks for participating in our interview.

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?

David: I’ve always loved writing, but I remember a moment when I was sixteen, when I was looking out of the car window as my family and I were driving on a highway and I thought: ‘I want to be a novelist!’

Since all of my writing is satirical or humorous, what keeps me going is, above all, the aim of making myself laugh. And I think you have to have that kind of passion and the desire to create something that, in the first instance, makes yourself happy for it to become a piece that appeals to other people, too.

Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

David: I think in a lot of ways, it actually hasn’t, as I grew up in Germany but most of my cultural influences were British and American and I wanted to move abroad since I was about nine or ten. But as a family, we always traveled a lot — not only in Europe, but also to places like the U.S., China and Israel. So, that part of my upbringing certainly colored my outlook on life and, to a degree, my writing, particularly with regard to Fake News, which draws on historical events from around the world.

Norm: Why have you been drawn to satire? As a follow up, are there aesthetic advantages and disadvantages peculiar to the satire? Does it have a form?

David: I suppose I’ve always been quite wry and sarcastic about certain aspects of society, so that’s just my natural way to look at the world. I’m not sure about disadvantages that are peculiar to the satire, but I think a big advantage is that much — if not all — of life is utterly absurd if you really stop to think about it, so there’s a lot to satirize. The difficulty is in being subtle, and as an art form, it comes down to describing events in such a way that it’s clear to the reader that they’re ridiculous even though you present them as reasonable.

Norm: How did you decide you were ready to write Fake News?

David: Earlier this year, I completed my first novel, a satire about hipsters, and having edited it twice, I put it away for a couple of months to look at it again with fresh eyes before sending it off to literary agents.

In the meantime, my wife and I went to China, and reading about British colonialism while we were there, I had the idea for Fake News. Since that book seemed more time-sensitive given that you never know with Trump what’s going to happen from one day to the next, I decided to put all my energy into it. And having been very disciplined in writing my hipster novel over the previous eight months or so, I was already in the flow of things and therefore just cracked on with it.

Norm: In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?

David: I don’t have any concerns about taking liberties in fiction, but I recently read a book about the history of Motown where I had the impression that the writer had taken liberties that went a bit too far for my liking.

When describing certain events, there were a lot of minute details about how, say, Berry Gordy had woken up on a particular morning fifty years ago and, while shaving in his bathroom, had thought about one thing or another.

Maybe this was how it really happened, but to me, it seemed like those descriptions of domesticity served to set the scene rather than to relate actual fact. In most instances, it’s ultimately inconsequently whether a decision was made over breakfast, at the office, or while driving in a car. But personally, when it comes to non-fiction, I wouldn’t spin a narrative around the facts to make the book more readable.

Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing this book and what did you enjoy most about writing it?

David: Starting off, I had a word count and number of chapters in mind, but as I researched obscure and funny historical facts and events that I could reimagine for my Donald Trump narrative, I realized that there weren’t quite as many of them as I’d thought. But eventually, I got there.

Since Fake News is part fiction and part non-fiction — consisting of fictional Donald Trump episodes that are based on actual events, which are described at the end of each chapter — there were two distinct aspects to the writing, but I greatly enjoyed both of them. In general, I prefer writing fiction. But I also like doing research, and learning about the bizarre true events that underpin Fake News was a lot of fun.

Norm: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

David: I learned a lot about events that I’d previously been unaware of. In terms of the writing per se, not so much because it was probably easier to produce Fake News than most of my other work because I didn’t have to create the characters.

Norm: What purpose do you believe your book serves and what matters to you about the story?

David: The main purpose of Fake News is to make people laugh and to flag up obscure historical events that most of them probably won’t have heard of and that make for nice little anecdotes at, say, a party. But beyond that, I hope the book also reminds those who, like me, are disheartened by Donald Trump’s election and various other scarcely believable recent developments around the world — like Brexit and what’s happening in Spain at the moment — that all of this isn’t unique in the history of mankind and that things are cyclical and will, hopefully, be all right in the end.

Norm: Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

David: When I started advertising Fake News on Facebook, I thought it might be a good idea to target Trump supporters along with people to whom my book would actually appeal, because any news is good news, right? Maybe not, after all, because I received a lot of highly questionable messages. Some of them made me laugh (one guy called me “unhinged” and “extreme”), but others were also so far below the line of common decency I had to delete them. Since then, I have reset the criteria for my target audience, and overall, the response has been hugely positive.

Norm: Do you believe Trump will last out his term?

David: No, I don’t think so. Initially, I thought he wouldn’t last more than a few months, but although he has defied my expectations, I still believe he won’t be President come the end of next year, let alone the end of his term.

However, in my opinion, irrespective of whether he lasts a full term, or even two terms, or is gone by the time this interview is published, the real problem is his legacy. There are probably — hopefully! — enough checks and balances in place to prevent him from causing total havoc. But with his inflammatory rhetoric and blatant disregard for the truth, he has not only sullied the presidency but also poisoned many people’s minds and lowered the standards of acceptable behavior to such a degree that I think it will take a long time to raise them again.

Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Fake News?

David: There is more information on my Facebook page — — and they can also drop me a line on Facebook.

Norm: What is next for David Hutter?

David: I’ve now gone back to editing my hipster satire one last time, and I should be done with that in the next few weeks. After that, I will focus on another satire that, like Fake News, is politics-related, though in a much broader sense. I have already written a couple of chapters and am hoping to complete it by the spring.

Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Follow Here To Read Fran Lewis, one of Bookpleasures' Reviewers Review of Fake News