Friday, August 14, 2009

[Interview] Chris Wood

Writer and journalist, Chris Wood lives in Manchester, England.

He has written about film and books for a variety of publications and is the author of The Ingredients Of A Good Thriller (LDB Publishing, 2008) and Sherlock Holmes and the Underpants of Death (LDB Publishing, 2009).

In this interview, Chris Wood talks about his writing:

When did you start writing?

I was fascinated with books when I was younger. Later on I found I had stories I wanted to tell -- just ideas to explore, usually, and one thing lead to another.

At first I did book reviews for a number of places, which I still do occasionally. After having no luck with regular publishers (except in France) I decided to publish my own. It means you can present things as you want.

How would you describe your writing?

It's very varied. I've written a genre guide and a humour book, and hope to have my first serious fiction out later this year, so fingers crossed for that.

My target audience is people who share my sense of humour, which is a really unprofessional answer, but it's true. It's not very focused, but I don't think I can give any other answer.

In the writing that you are doing, which authors influenced you most?

I think P. G. Wodehouse, because his playful use of language is incredibly funny and also massively inventive. Spike Milligan as well, because his approach included absolutely anything he wanted, no matter how surreal it was.

James Ellroy has an economy of style that makes his work very powerful. Each phrase has impact and in places, it's as though the author has reached out from the page and slapped the reader. It's so effective.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

Not finding an audience is one concern.

Also, is the work too varied to build up a following? It might well be, but it's what I'm drawn to write, so I go with it. Provided I feel I've written a project well, and have taken pains to get that right, then that's the only way to deal with that concern.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

Deciding how to approach different parts of the writing is a challenge. That feeling of staring at the computer screen and not knowing what to do next. Following a different direction or changing some aspect of the approach seems the best way to deal with that.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

That basically life is too short and uncertain not to be doing the things you want to. The projects people nurture in their minds mean a great deal to them, so not following that instinct is a mistake.

Do you write everyday?

I try to write everyday, and it ranges from a few small bits and pieces to long swathes of text. It ends when it stops flowing.

How many books have you written so far?

The Ingredients of a Good Thriller came out in November 2008, by LDB Publishing, which is my imprint. It's a guide to thrillers in books and films, for people who want to write them and just enjoy the area. I'm happy to say that feedback suggests it's a good read for people who just like thrillers, which is fantastic.

My second book is Sherlock Holmes and the Underpants of Death, which is a daft parody of the great detective. The first story can be found on the SlothJockey.com. The volume was published in February of this year, again by LDB Publishing.

How long did it take you to write your latest book?

My latest is Sherlock Holmes and the Underpants of Death. I wrote the first story twelve years ago, and in between more serious projects added a new story every now and then, largely for some friends and myself. Two years ago, some of the material was published in France by Edition Rivages, and it has appeared on some websites. As people responded positively, I love writing humour, I thought I'd put it out.

Publishing myself has been a lot of work, some expense and a huge pleasure. It does mean it's very limited in terms of distribution for bookstores, but at least it's on Amazon.

Which aspect of the work did you find most difficult?

Not knowing how many people would appreciate the humour and the range of jokes, as it varies from literary parody of the Holmes style to potty humour and slapstick, which doesn't usually appear in books.

I can only do what the people who enjoy them respond to, and hope others appreciate it too.

What did you enjoy most?

Selecting the pictures for the book. I used some of the original Holmes illustrations and set my own captions to them. For example, there's a drawing of Holmes studying a windowsill with his magnifying glass as two policemen look on, and the caption reads: "Look, he's found the window!"

What sets the book apart from other things you've written?

It's very daft, and most of my other work isn't.

In what way is it similar?

I enjoyed writing it.

What will your next book be about?

It's a political satire looking at parts of the War on Terror and the way the media has distorted some things. Parts of the press are a disgrace and highly misleading.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Whenever anyone posts a review or sends me an email saying they really enjoyed reading it. Then I feel ten feet tall.

Possibly related books:

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Related resources
Get your copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Underpants of Death at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

Interviews
Interview With Author Chris Wood: A Look at Comedy, Self Publishing and The World of Crime, by Dulcinea Norton-Smith, suite101.com, April 16, 2009

Reviews

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