Further on Rod Marsden’s Desk Job

Desk Job features dark fantasy by Rod Marsden.

A satire on office politics

I hate injustice especially when it is disguised as fair play. At the time I was looking for inspiration to start a new book a news report on television caught my attention. A new wave of political correctness was in the planning stage. Political correctness, especially in the office, bugs me. Hence the giant praying mantis menacing a computer jockey on the cover of Desk Job. Like Lewis Carroll and Terry Pratchett, I use symbolism and metaphor to reveal the darker, weirder and more fascinating elements of life as I know it. Fear created by censorship inspired by political correctness is at the heart of why the office where Desk Job mainly takes place is so dysfunction. I have worked in offices not far removed from the office in my novel.

I do most of my rough first draft writing on the train. I edit at home on my P.C. Since I do a lot of travelling for my current job as a researcher for public transportation, this works out fine.

I don’t expect to get everything right with the first draft. If I did then I suspect the work, whether short story or novel, would lack inspiration and the kind of flavor that makes for a good read. It is okay to let your id free to play with ideas in the early stages of any kind of writing. You can edit out the accrued garbage in subsequent drafts. Also the ending you originally have in mind is often not the ending you arrive at. You get to know and develop your characters as you write and this can result in your muse finding a more suitable if not a more fun conclusion.

I get my ideas from life. I always have pen and paper handy when I’m travelling. You never know who you are going to meet on the train or how they will inspire you. I also read a lot. I try to get in a couple of factual books a year along with the novels I absorb. Even a bad author can teach you something about writing. There’s the question of why you have decided that he or she isn’t very good.

I have a novel in mind that will deal with a common fear. A man has just won a fortune but his past is about to catch up to him. Will it be flight or fight? It’s presently titled Cold Water Conscience. No plans to imbue it with fantasy elements like my other novels. It will be stark and compelling.

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BIOGRAPHY:

Rod Marsden was born in Sydney, Australia. He has three degrees; all related to writing and to history. His stories have been published in Australia, England, Russia and the USA. He has worked in the American anthology Cats Do it Better. Many of his short stories have been published in Night to Dawn magazine. Undead Reb Down Under and Other Vampire Stories is a collection of his short fiction on vampirism. His novel Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand is his first venture into the vampire novel. Ghost Dance is his first undertaking into dark fantasy involving a quest. Desk Job is a first in that it is his salute to Lewis Carroll and it is also his initial surrealist novel. He is no stranger to controversy and much of his writing is purposely as well as purposefully politically incorrect. He prefers truth and integrity over the lies and half-truths we are so often inundated with. Thus his work has a certain honesty about the times we are living in that may not be found elsewhere.

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Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Desk-Job-Office-land-Rod-Marsden/dp/1937769143/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376845126&sr=1-5&keywords=Desk+Job

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/178806

Nook Books: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/desk-job-rod-marsden/1111866050?ean=2940044699878

 

 

Desk Job: Sarah In Office-Land Review by Neil K. Henderson

Set in the offices of a big Sydney business concern of the 1990s, Desk Job by former Masque Noir editor, Rod Marsden, reads like staring through a hothouse window at a weird menagerie of mismatched captive fauna.

Among the exotic and nightmarish metaphors for office “types” – such as praying mantises (women of “a certain age” out for blood at a sniff of male impropriety), dung beetles (sycophants to the mantises), hawks (upwardly mobile managers), caterpillars (semi-comatose top brass), mules (disregarded drudges), and butterflies (pretty young do-nothings) and their older, drabber moth counterparts – real human souls live-out daily drama in this infernal inversion of Alice’s Wonderland. Animal behavior is controlled by the government-imposed political correctness dictates of the period. No one dares infringe on the rights of a “protected species.” On the other hand, it’s open season on the native wildlife. Tensions mount. Fear, paranoia, and madness ensue until one employee is murdered by another while most are too busy watching their own backs to notice. It’s the kind of mess you’d need a psychic investigator to work out.

Enter Sarah Hollingsworth, who’s seen it all already in a dream. She can read people’s minds to present the reader with psychological profiles and biographical insights into the group of characters under the microscope. (She even interviews the victim!) This lets her give the kind of nonjudgmental overview that keeps things nicely in balance and stops the reader (and some of the characters) from totally losing the plot. She also provides a few surprises along the way with her own interaction among the forces of the mystical realm.

It’s a testament to Rod Marsden’s easy style that the whole unfolding kaleidoscope of animal imagery, social comment and dark fantasy reads with a page-turning immediacy gripped until a satisfactory conclusion is reached. (Not so much a Whodunnit, this, as a Whydunnit.)

But, the conclusion is not the end of the book. What Marsden does with the remaining third is to literalize the previously metaphorical types as living dream creatures, in a totally fantastical code section reflecting back the Lewis Carroll motifs from a new perspective. Sarah here ventures through an interdimensional portal, like Alice’s looking glass, to interact with real mantises and beetles and a Queen of Hearts who wants to psych out the office workers via computer consoles and hand-mirror getaways. A fast and furious fantasy adventure follows – ensuring the novel achieves a flying finish.

Sandwiched in between the episodic close-ups on specific cases in part one, collected quotes from contemporary Australian books on office psychology provide a Greek chorus to the developing drama. These interludes continue as a unifying factor through the second part. Here, the lika-lika bird (every sentence starts with “like a…”) rears her gorgeously plumaged head. She’s still young and uncorrupted, prior to landing that fatal office job. Her outside view is refreshingly alternative. There is also the graffiti-spraying mall rat, destined to become a mule, or even a hawk someday.

It is difficult to encapsulate in a brief review the complex interplay of fantastical dream situations, figuratively-represented actuality and actualized fantasy contained in Desk Job. Odd magical moments come to mind, such as the vision of several “brown-nose” dung beetles lining up to boil themselves in a cauldron because of the praying mantis they worship like soup. There’s also the annoying whistling delivery man who appears at the office every so often, and is perfunctorily assaulted by a member of staff. Then, there are the cats which periodically pop through mirrors or get their tails pulled by startled mortals. Particularly amusing is the scene near the end of lika-lika birds all crowding around one such hand-mirror, convinced that the cat which just appeared was cleverly programmed in by the manufacturers. I can just see them haunting all the shops in Sydney asking for the mirrors with the pop-out cats!

Does that make sense? Not maybe on the face of things, but, in the context of this curiously individual and delightfully engaging novel, it makes perfect sense. If you don’t believe me, I recommend you take a psychic trip through the portal of its covers and experience it for yourself. Desk Job is a book with “Read Me” written all over it.

Desk Job is Rod Marsden's satire on political correction.

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