So this second book has been… a difficult one. I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be. After the semi-autobiographical Liar’s Guide to South America (not saying which bits) there was always going to be that awkward second.
In reality I finished Robots three years ago. I was happy with what I’d done, and sent it out into the world optimistically. Unfortunately it came back with notes, and since then I’ve been worrying at it – messing with the structure, trying to add weight to what is – indubitably – a light weight tale. Eventually I stopped editing all together, and the book languished on my hard drive, collecting dust and staring at me sulkily, coughing pointedly every time one of its predictions for the future came true.
So why finally put it out in the world now? Well, after a fallow period, punctuated with occasional short stories, magazine columns and screenplays, I’ve started something new. A third novel to add to my oeuvre, and hopefully it’ll be the career defining showstopper that leaves the rest in its wake.
Wait Until the Robots will forever be unfinished – it’s flawed and flustered and not what I hoped it might be. So quite like the future then.
As an old friends of mine put it, ‘if you wait until the robots, you’ll be waiting a very long time…’
The Liar’s Guide to South America is now available as an audio book, read by none other than yours truly. Listen your way through Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru as I struggle with the accents of these and many other countries. Sit back and marvel as Andrew Mozart pursues the girl of his dreams, and giggle as I mispronounce my way around a whole continent.
This is a professionally recorded audio-book produced by the incredibly patient people at A2i transcriptions, and it’s available from itunes, amazon and audible.
After the recent success of How to Become a Criminal Mastermind, I’m collaborating with director Henry Scriven on a new film project, provisionally titled They Look Just Like Us. It’s a Horror-Comedy, and it threatens to be one of the most controversial things I’ve ever done. My characters are taking me to some dark places, and I’m horrified by some of the things they think and do. But that’s people, right?
Why do I write what I do?
Everything I write is designed to entertain. If I can weave in a few ideas and make people think along the way then all the better, but what I really want is to tell a story and take the audience outside of their own existence for 90 minutes, so they feel they’ve lived through something original.
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I don’t really work in any specific genre, other than comedy. I think that everything should be funny, even the sad moments. That’s how most people get through life so it makes sense to me to reflect that in my storytelling. Whether I’m writing a travel-romance like The Liar’s Guide to South America, a Sci-Fi thriller like Wait Until the Robots or a heist movie like Criminal Mastermind, the characters always relate to each other through humour.
How does my writing process work?
Typically during the latter stages of an old project I have a few new ideas and characters noodling around in my head. One night I’ll find the thread to hang them all from, and I won’t be able to sleep for the excitement of the plot developing in my mind. At this point I’ll usually get up at 4am and write a synopsis.
Whenever I’ve got a free evening I try to write. I generally mooch around a bit first, trying to brace myself for more time in front of a screen after a day in the office. Quite often I’ll write by hand to overcome this, but screenplays especially are much easier with the right software for formatting.
Normally I won’t actually begin working until ten or even later. Once I’ve started I’ll generally fly for an hour or two, and then have to force myself to stop so I can get a decent night’s sleep. At this point I’ll generally curse myself for starting so late.
Most projects will stall for a month or two when the file will remain unopened. I like to think of this as a cocoon period, although in reality it’s more like a coma. Six months is about typical for a first draft under my current process, and then I’ll edit endlessly until every word is the best one I have. With scripts there’s normally consultation and further edits to be made. With this current project Henry will add additional material, and we’ll hold a read-through which will prompt further changes. Then, should we somehow find a modest budget, we’ll edit again to remove all the explosions and helicopters.
So that’s me. Now I will retire and hand the tour over to someone else. Richard Welwyn, have you ever considered Piracy?