Hi Chris, how are you?
I’m fine. Actually I am rather good. No just fine actually thinking about it.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was very young, say 5 or 6. As a teenager I used to do comics and started making silly short films at home when I was 16, surreal comedies with my sister Amy which were great fun. In 2005 I think it was I started doing illustrations for other books, then in 2008 I started writing Cutey and the Sofaguard. At first it was for fun but then I just got right into it. Then I started doing other things like Hound Dawg Magazine, non fiction stuff. It kind of came out of nowhere. I do it because it makes me happy; writing is just one of the things I enjoy the most in life.
What was the first thing you wrote?
My name, but I spelt it wrong. But after that I wrote a weird little short book at school when I was 6 called Freddie the Frog and won a little award for it. I was well proud at the time but I think the award was for most pompous 5 year old in the world. I have still got the book and in an odd way I can see the surreal qualities I have now even in that book. I also did a thing when I was 7 called Super Pan about a superhero that was a pan. And I did this little book called What’s That Funny Thing about a bunch of kids who could see something really odd in the distance. As it came closer to them it turns out to be a dinosaur and it eats them all. I used to fold A4 sheets and staple them into a little book. I still have some of them. Most of them make little sense.
What inspired you to write ‘Cutey and the Sofaguard’?
Well I was working at a stationery shop at the time and me and a friend used to spend a lot of our time writing songs for our music project Wade and Hart, a weird surreal comedy thing we did back then. I started coming up with weird names and odd ideas and after a while I had this idea for a really surreal story full of demented characters and character names you don’t usually hear. I had a lot of odd ideas inside me that I wanted to get out into a story, into some kind of form and I really enjoyed writing the novel. It’s about a guy going to see who we are made to believe is the love of his life in hospital. On the way up to the ward the lift gets stuck and he is stuck in there with an old man who is visiting his dying wife. The nameless hero looks back on his life from his childhood to the present and it’s a really strange, funny, often disturbing. Someone who bought the audio book on the Australian I Tunes reviewed it on there and said it was the weirdest book they had come across ever. There are characters like Kevin the Sniffer, Alonut Missing, Nippy Want, all with strange names. I cant really describe it properly in straight forward terms. Rik Mayall says it is like a literary Salvador Dali and in a way it is.
Did you write ‘Cutey and the Sofaguard’ with the intention for it to become an audio book?
No. I didn’t even think it would be released. It was all for fun at first, then I realised that people might like it and I decided to release it via a company called Authors Online. It didn’t quite work out for me though which is why I started my own company Wisdom Twins Books and got into releasing titles that way instead of with other publishers.
What gave you the idea to produce ‘Cutey and the Sofaguard’ as an audio book?
Well this is an odd one for me, because when I was writing it in the summer of 08, I had been rereading Rik Mayall’s autobiography 'Bigger Than Hitler Better Than Christ' and as I was writing, Rik’s voice kept coming in my head. Then at the end of 2009, I just had a thought, which was how great it would be to record an audio version with Rik Mayall, although I didn’t dream he would do it. I sent it along and he loved it, got back right away to say he would do it and that was it. All my life Rik Mayall has been, to me anyway, the funniest man in the world. He is a brilliant actor and his way with characters just suits the script of Cutey and the Sofaguard so well. I really love the audio book of Cutey. I don’t know if I will ever do something that means as much to me as it does. Rik connects with the material so well. It was like this was meant to happen in an odd way. He really loves two characters in the book, these vile brothers the Wisdom Twins, who Rik sees as a continuation of Rick in The Young Ones and Richie in Bottom. Not a repeat, but an example of that kind of prat in middle age. So he has found something in the story he can really work with. A lot of people who’ve heard Cutey think it is a great marriage of ideas between me and Rik which is an honour for me to hear.
Do you think of yourself as an author or a writer?
I have to be careful how I say this but I say I am more like an artist, which sounds a tad wanky and pretentious but what I mean is, as I release the stuff myself, design the covers, do the illustrations, the writing, the printing and all that, I consider it more of a complete role rather than just being an author or a writer. If that sounds pompous do tell me.
Tell us about ‘Hound Dawg Magazine’, is that something you will still be producing?
I started doing the free Hound Dawg Magazine at the back end of 2009 when I first set up the Wisdom Twins Books site. It’s basically a free downloadable magazine. Writers send in fiction, poetry, reviews and I write articles for it, based around film, music and art in general. I also interview people for the magazine, but they’re more like chats than anything else. It’s always exciting getting a reply from someone you really admire saying they want to do the interview. I managed to track down most of the members of The Velvet Underground and interview them for the magazine, although Lou Reed wasn’t really into the idea, which was kind of a relief actually, considering how he treats interviewers. So really it’s a light, fun magazine mostly full of interviews.
I love doing it. It used to be monthly but now it is a sort of whenever it comes together kind of thing. Comedian Arthur Smith was one of my faves to do; he told me a great story about a guy who poured a pint of piss over him in the middle of one of his shows. Apparently it was a tribute, a way of telling Arthur he was enjoying the show. People can read it for free here or here. There is a mix of things to interest most people.:
Do you have any new projects that we can look forward to?
There’s quite a lot of stuff I’m involved in at the moment. I have been doing these free audio shorts with a friend of mine called Shawn Dimery and they are downloadable from the Wisdom Twins site. They are kind of anarcho surrealist stories we write and read, mixed in with music and effects. They’ve had good feedback so far, but they are very strange, although there is usually a point hidden beneath the weird surreal moments. People can download them here for free too:
It’s good to have free stuff alongside your other work because it adds a more fun relaxed side to the whole thing. I also just released the paperback of Cutey and the Sofaguard and its follow up Home in a Tick together in one book which you cane buy from the Wisdom Twins books site.
I have another book of short stories due out probably at the end of this year. I am also rereleasing a book I wrote on actor Malcolm McDowell a couple of years ago, called Malcolm McDowell On Screen. Also, I am going to be working with Rik Mayall again later in the year on another audio version of one of my stories.
So I am quite busy really.
When working on a project do you set aside specific times of the day to write or do write only when the creative inspiration is there?
If I’m in the middle of something which I am really enjoying, I set a full day to do it and don’t stop until I think it is starting to run dry or I’m getting tired and hungry. Other days I might do a couple of hours then stop. It depends really. So I don’t really set a day or time to do it, it just sort of feels right when it comes up.
Chris Wade & Rik Mayall
When writing do you have a ‘plan’ of the book already set out as you start or do you let the shape of the content evolve as everything comes together?
I have a basic plot idea and I start to pad it out with scenarios and strange characters that move the adventure along a bit. The stories are often about the characters specifically. I never know the end myself until quite a way in which I find really exciting to do, because it means I am not sure where it’s going to go.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging when writing?
Writing anything serious or normal. I did try to write a story that was normal, a crime story with a proper plot and real characters, but I found it difficult because it seemed so alien to what I usually do. It was also boring and not fun at all. So I think writing should always be fun and you should keep it to what you enjoy and feel right with. There’s no point in lying to yourself by forcing something out. I am at my most comfortable when writing surreal fiction with weird imagery and a disturbing edge to it along side the laughter. That is what seems to come out naturally anyway.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t really have a favourite author but I like authors who take stories into unusual areas. I love Hunter S Thompson, his stuff is just brilliant isn’t it? Also, I really like reading Philip K Dick stories because they’re so imaginative. It’s tragic he wasn’t rich and respected when he was alive.
What is your favourite book?
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess by far. It’s a work of genius that book.
Have you ever read a book that disappointed you when you finished it and what caused the disappointment for you?
Stephen King books always disappoint me because I mostly always love the film adaptations and then when I read the books I just can’t get into them in the same way. The Shining was one of those books. It was so drawn out it was tedious.
Of course it is a great book to millions of people but I was disappointed with it. I can’t really think of any others.
Are there any new authors that have recently grasped your interest?
I don’t read new books really. I only read something if it looks really interesting and that’s usually older writers. I like classic stuff like Steinbeck, even Ben Elton’s books can be good to read. Also I don’t read much anyway to be honest which is quite embarrassing for a writer to say, but I am always writing. If I read it is mostly biographies and the odd bit of fiction. I think reading too much gets in the way of getting down new and fresh ideas.
Do you think new authors should try to get their work state by a traditional book publisher first or do you think it is acceptable going straight to the self-publishing route that is now available?
I don’t think it is for everyone. If you really care about what you do and want to get it out there regardless sometimes of intake and interest, then it is perfect, especially if you are willing to put a lot of work into it. That way the positive results seem even more rewarding. It is very exciting doing it all yourself. Some people like the big advances, but there’s a lot more to consider than that. There’s years of rejection, the thought of waiting around for contracts, not having full creative and business control. For me, that would just be awful to have to go along with all that, but I am sure others find it easy to get on with their agents and publishers so I can’t really say.
How do you feel about books now being available in an electronic format?
It’s great. Our generation has it great with how easy it is to access stuff on the internet.
Do you have any advice for new writers just starting out?
I’m only 25 myself so I can’t give advice really. I am kind of still finding my own way, which is so fun and exciting. Only thing I would say is only do something you really enjoy and believe in, other wise what’s the point. That’s the only bit of advice I feel valid enough to say.
Is there anything else you’d like to ad?
The Cutey and the Sofaguard audio book is available from I Tunes now if anyone is interested in hearing it.
There are also some previews on You Tube: