Patrick Marlborough is a neurodivergent non-binary writer, comedian, journalist, critic and musician based in Fremantle, WA. They have been published in Vice, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Junkee, Noisey, Meanjin, Overland, Crikey, The Lifted Brow, Cordite, Going Down Swinging, Pedestrian, Kotaku, The Betoota Advocate and 'beloved other'. They are a passionate mental health and disability advocate, regularly writing about their experiences with depression, suicide, bipolar, high-functioning autism and OCD. They have lived their whole life in Fremantle and spend their days arguing with their incredibly naughty dog, Buckley. In this Q&A he tells us more about his manuscript A Horse Held at Gunpoint.
Describe your manuscript in your own words.
A Horse Held at Gunpoint is a screwball tribute to Fremantle, as well as a slapstick skewering of suicide, trauma and grief. It is a cartoonish-by-design collage of ghost stories, anime, martial arts movies, workers' rights movements, political hackery, dog parks, noise complaints, community Facebook groups and bullshit artistry.
I pitch it as season four of The Simpsons meets James Joyce.
What inspired you to write it?
High-functioning autism and a 60 mg Vyvanse script.
And Fremantle, of course. I’m a lifelong resident of Freo, and despite all my travels I still call it home and possibly the silliest place on Earth. It is filled to the brim with absolute goofballs, myself included, each of them worthy of a book in their own right – you really can’t swing a dead cat in this town without hitting someone with a wild-as-heck story. And I should know – I saw a man swinging a dead cat at police on High Street just two weeks ago.
How long have you been working on it?
In all honesty, I wrote it in the six weeks before lockdown in 2020, writing five to ten thousand words per day in the hopes of entering it into the Hungerford Award. The book was improvised, essentially, but I felt I needed to buckle up and write a 'silly' novel so that I could get on with writing all the 'proper' novels that have been loudly kicking about in my head since forever.
After I submitted it, the world fell apart, as did my life, and I didn’t really touch it outside of the odd gruelling line edit for about ten months. But the people who had read it really loved it, and when the Fogarty Award rolled around I decided to buckle down and spend six-ish weeks editing, rewriting and adding to the book’s already ridiculous Jenga tower of goofs.
What does it mean to you to make the shortlist of the 2021 Fogarty Literary Awards?
Everything and more...but more than that even it means permission to write more books, which is all I ever wanted. As a fairly annoying gronk on the autism spectrum, I’ve spent most my life seeking permission to follow my passions in the very exacting way that I want to follow them, I usually can’t, because I go at them in a way that is generally too intense or unprofitable for horrid little rathole we call capitalism. By being on the shortlist I feel that people will want to read my book, and the many other books I have churning around in my head, along with all my songs, bits and poop jokes. I feel like a great weight has been lifted, or like I’ve received some kind of gentle trepanning—a great pressure has been relieved, and I’ve finally received the go-ahead to write, write, write!
Y’know it’s funny, I almost didn’t answer the call from Fremantle Press because I thought it was my dropkick job officer giving me grief again, haha!
The 2021 winner of the Fogarty Literary Award will be announced by Annie Fogarty as part of the next Fremantle Press Great Big Book Read at ECU’s Spiegeltent, on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Tickets are free, but are already sold out. To go on the waitlist and to get a Live Stream link sent to you, go to Eventbrite (https://fogarty2021.eventbrite.com.au) or by emailing email@example.com.