An interview with Nikhil Singh Part 2. On dreams on inspiration.

So about the dreams -


I've been writing for some time now, and originally wanted to refine a method of dream recapitulation - more for exploration of dreams - this somehow evolved into narrative.

I sometimes have dreams that take the form of incredibly long movies or fictive narratives and wanted to be able to capture that - so with Taty, I originally had this dream when I was a teenager of a road I had seen somewhere in Umhlanga area. The road was very evocative and haunting and looked like something from King Kong with all its foliage and dinosaur vibes etc. I was amazed by it, but somehow couldn't situate where it was, because the impression I got of it was removed from my memory of when I actually went down it - I must have traversed it when I was very young or something anyway...I was about maybe 15 when I dreamed of a friend I had, who was actually called Taty - though she was acting as a character in a film in my dream, so although I retained the name to create a link to the past, though the character has no actual basis on her, but in a Burroughs-like way, required the link with her 'acting' as the character in my dream to maintain the dream feeling- anyway - the crux of the dream was that she was hitching on this road and then a car picked her up, driven by this gothic woman.

The dream became very long and labyrinthine, but seemed to describe this world of necropoli and ruined cities (a very post-apocalyptic feeling that I have always associated with Durban and the fact that I used to party there in my teenage goth days).  Anyway when I woke up the dream retained a very haunting quality. A few days later I was asked to do a drama project (this was like Standard 9) and had the idea to find this road and film the opening of this movie - I was filming a lot of stuff in high school - music videos and a documentary on splashy fen and little movies etc, so it made complete sense. I asked Taty if she would play this girl playing this girl who was her in a dream playing someone else (lol) and was trying to think of a name for her character, but couldn't think of one because I was still very amped about getting a scene penned so I just called it Taty went...and I was deliberating which way the road went and was reading Burroughs at the time - The Western Lands, where he talks a lot about the Land of the Dead - which I liked - so as a working title only, I named it Taty Went West. Anyway - I never ended up filming this scene, but some years later adapted this opening scene to a comic. I forgot about the whole thing for many years, actually worked onnumber of books, novellas and short stories along the way (Taty is my first published book, but by no means the first novel I have worked on). After decades, I was going to return to umhlanga after some time in London and was touched by a nostalgia for the mangrove and beaches and wanted to work on something that captured that essence and decided to resuscitate this work from my teenage years. Though after so much time I had refined my dream-capture prose technique and was able to 'excavate' the dream in its entirety - and by that I mean I captured the 'atmosphere of the dream narrative' as it occurred in the dream. So I fleshed out the screenplay in London before I came but set to work on the prose version in Umhlanga. I was working in a disused family holiday house near the beach which no-one was using at the time and weirdly when I was finished - literally the day I completed the first draft, I took a long walk past the lagoon and realised that the holiday flat complex's back was against the highway, which ran along the lagoon toward Tongaat - it was, without my knowing it - the mysterious road that inspired the actual story in the dream! So I had made this massive roundabout trip and the actual landscape had brought me back, so that I could write the story on the very road that it came from.

And to perhaps shed more light on the gender thing for you - when I was a teenager, I resembled a girl quite closely and went out partying mostly AS a girl - all my friends were girls, no one really knew the difference when I was out etc. The result is that a lot of my memories of teenage-hood are literally those of a teenage girl in a teenage girl's world. I had no plans to 'be a girl' or anything - it just sort of naturally happened that way, fun dress-ups whatnot and I slotted into that role and when I was bored slotted elsewhere - I play/have played many roles. So in actual fact it’s far more true to my memory of teenage youth and the narrative itself to have had a teenage female protagonist, because essentially it’s closer to who I was then than anything society would decide I SHOULD HAVE identified with. These were my experiences and this was my creative choice based on said experiences.


Nikhil is originally from Venus but moved to Earth’s greener pastures after centuries of trying to inhabit a human host. Their drawing career began with chiseling hieroglyphs into the walls of pyramids and although their current artistic endeavours are secret it is unlikely that they are very different. Nikhil, a committed vegan, believes in fairies and has an electric blue glitter spacesuit and knows how to use it. They are the co-creator of the critically acclaimed Salem Brownstone - All Along the Watchtowers and engage in alternative filmmaking and music projects, like Hi Spider.



Interview by Tiah Beautement a.k.a @ms_tiahmarie