Author Interview with Christopher Fowler

Author interview with Christopher Fowler.

Author bio: 
Christopher Fowler is an English novelist living in London, his books contain elements of black comedy, anxiety and social satire. As well as novels, he writes short stories, scripts, press articles and reviews.

He lives in King's Cross, on the Battlebridge Basin, and chooses London as the backdrop of many of his stories because any one of the events in its two thousand year history can provide inspiration

In 1998 he was the recipient of the BFS Best Short Story Of The Year, for 'Wageslaves'. Then, in 2004, 'The Water Room' was nominated for the CWA People's Choice Award, 'Full Dark House' won the BFS August Derleth Novel of The Year Award 2004 and 'American Waitress' won the BFS Best Short Story Of The Year 2004. The novella 'Breathe' won BFS Best Novella 2005.


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Hi Christopher, welcome over to The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions for us.

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Christopher Fowler is? What are your hobbies, likes and dislikes?

CF: I’ve been described as ‘a writer who would make a great serial killer’ by Time Out (not sure that’s a compliment). If you want the official version, I’m the author of over 40 novels and short story collections, including the Bryant & May mysteries, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London. My most recent books were the haunted house thriller 'Nyctophobia' and 'The Burning Man’. Other work includes screenplays, videogames, graphic novels and audio plays. I won the CWA Dagger In The Library this year for outstanding work and have a weekly column in The Independent On Sunday. I live in King’s Cross, London and Barcelona and daily update my fairly odd blog at www.christopherfowler.co.uk

BP: You have been writing for over two decades, when did you first got the idea that you wanted to become an author?

CF: Man, I was seven and needed pocket-money to feed my comic book habit, so I started writing to newspapers who paid money for letters.  The difference between a writer and a whore is that writers don’t change their pants so often.

BP: In the many years of writing did you every encounter a moment that you didn’t know about what to write you next story?

CF: I’m in one right this minute – I’ve started a fantasy novel and am trying to avoid George RR Martin’s ideas, because he does them so well that nobody else can work in that area for a few years. It happens all the time.

BP: Since you have been writing so long already, have you noticed changes in the publishing of books: has it become easier? Are the stories different? The marketing behind the book? How have you perceived it?

CF: These days we largely do our own marketing online – I run my blog and do a lot of social media but I have writer friends who do none. For my first novel, we made a cinema commercial – can you imagine doing that now? It’s become harder. There are too many very bad books being published, and writing has become much, much safer, with fewer experimental writers and fewer risks taken. I think of a story like John Sladek’s ‘Anxiety Register B’ (it’s a form to be filled out by the reader) and doubt it would ever be published now.

BP: The Sand Men your latest book, is a science fiction murder mystery, what gave you the idea to write this story?

CF: It’s sort of set 10 seconds into the future. I’ve spent time in the Middle East and it feels like where the future lives – and yet there are ancient myths and mysteries governing people’s lives; a good foundation for a strange novel.

BP: The Sand Men is out this October, if you would have to sell the book with a single sentence how would it go?
CF:  In Dubai there’s a new world of high-end, high-luxury resorts emerging for the super-rich – but at what price to everyone else? Welcome to a future that’s five minutes away, where rebellion against conformity can lead to the unthinkable …

BP: You are an award winning author, did writing of The Sand Men add any extra pressure?

CF: No – I’m a bit of a troublemaker and never do what publishers ask or expect of me, so I keep switching genres on them. Luckily they usually give in and hop on board.

BP: What has been the most difficult part when you were writing The Sand Men?

CF: The unreliable narrator – a woman who has moved to Dubai with her family. I worried whether the reader would get the idea that her version of events is not entirely to be trusted.

BP: Besides the difficult issues that accompany writing, which chapter/scene or character did you enjoy writing about the most?

CF:  There’s a part where the heroine starts thinking she’s paranoid, and meets a neighbor who says ‘No, you’re not, things really are this weird.’ That was satisfying!

BP: If you would be given the chance to make one final change to The Sand Men before it is published would you do so? If yes which part and why?

CF: No – I could have explained more but have deliberately encouraged readers to think about it and fill in any blanks. One reader has already complained and said she wanted every last thing explained. I said This is not TV, it’s a book – you have to do some work too!

BP: Now that Sand Men will be published, do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue in the near future?

CF: I’m working on a fantasy novel – my second after ‘Calabash’, and getting the world right is driving me crazy. Plus, I’m tiptoeing around other writers’ works – no names, but one has the word ‘Thrones’ in the title.

BP: Everyone enjoys science fiction and fantasy in their own way. What do you like most about it?

CF: The freedom to create mad characters. I wrote a scene in ‘Calabash’ where the hero had to explain what a television was to 13th century Persians. That’s the kind of freedom you have.

BP: if you would have to give your top five favorite books, which would they be?

CF: Aagh – impossible. Let me pick a few. Gormenghast. Bleak House. A Handful of Dust. Blackwater. The Moving Toyshop.

BP: And just lastly, can you give us a sneak peek of what will be in store for the readers of The Sand Men?

CF: An ordinary family move to an alien environment – present-day Dubai, where the ultimate resort, Dream World, is being built. But what if it wasn’t just governed by technology? What if something older and more primitive affected it? What happens when you can’t control human nature and make people do what you want? And how does a workman freeze to death on a beach in searing hot temperatures?

Thank you very much for your time Christopher and good luck with your future writing!



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