Interview with www.dogmatika.com August 2005, questions by Susan Tomaselli
What are you working on at the moment?
I've just adapted THE HITMAN DIARIES into a screenplay
for a producer who hopes to turn it into a movie but it's still
at an early stage at the moment. I've also written the pilot episode
of a sitcom version of THE BURGLAR DIARIES for the BBC and we're
just trying to get the full series past the programming board. And
I've adapted THE PORNOGRAPHER DIARIES into a stage play for a small
theatre company which will be touring next year. I'm also meeting
a couple of the Lock Stock guys who've optioned THE BANK ROBBER
DIARIES this week and we're going to take a look at the script.
Do you listen to music as you write? If so, what?I do, not so much as I'm writing but before I sit down and start, I have a particular piece of music that helps put me in the mood for whichever book I'm writing again. It's different for every book, for example, before I would sit down and write SCHOOL FOR SCUMBAGS, I would listen to U2's Vertigo, whereas for THE PORNOGRAPHER DIARIES it would be Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas. For MILO'S MARAUDERS I'd listen to Probably a Robbery by Renegade Soundwave, and for WHITE COLLAR, a really nice song called I Never by Rilo Kiley. The list goes on though I shouldn't imagine it's of any interest to anyone but myself so I'll shut up here.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?Hands down there's Flashman. I've read all his books and they're great fun. He's the best sort of hero because he's such a horrible piece of work himself – a coward, a cad, a liar and a bully – that he actually has more in common with the baddies than the other righteous heroes he runs into during his adventures. How the books are not a string of blockbuster movies as successful as James Bond is beyond me because they're cracking.
As for other fictional heroes, I like reading about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations rather than rocket-powered SAS type stuntmen, so the heroes I like rarely make it into a second book. But I'm a big John Wyndham fan and count Day of the Triffids and The Karakon Wakes among my favourite books.
And villains?Also Flashman.
What are you reading in bed?Usually the TV Guide, but I've just finished The Da Vinci Code, which I thought was a page-turner and a half and couldn't put it down. Really enjoyed it.
Are you are re-reader?Not really but there is one book I re-read every couple of years, and that's Animal Farm, by George Orwell. It's only about 90 pages long as it is, so I can usually finish it over a few lunchtime pints. It's also simply the best book I've ever read and would love to turn out something half as good before I turn up my toes.
Which literary character do you most identify with?Good question, as in, I haven't got a clue. Certainly not Flashman and no rocket-powered SAS type stuntmen. I'm probably more like one of those generally uninspiring 30-something losers that half the writers in London seem to be writing about these days in an attempt to exorcise their anger at finding they're generally uninspiring 30-something losers rather than rocket-powered stuntmen. And maybe King Kong.
One book you wish you had written, and why.Animal Farm would be one for reasons given above. The last Harry Potter book would be another, though simply for the money, but generally I'm happy with the books I'm writing. I'm my own biggest fan and the most boring man you could ever wish to get stuck next to down the pub when it comes to my own stuff. I do have a hankering to write an end-of-the-world type book, like those of John Wyndham and HG Wells, so every time something similar comes out I get a bit narked off that some bastard's got in there before me.
Which painting, or other piece of art, best describes you?Probably that picture of those dogs playing pool, because you'll always find it in the pub.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good place to start.George MacDonald Fraser who writes the Flashman books. Start with plain 'Flashman' and take it from there. There are twelve of them so far. Also, William Sutcliffe's Are You Experienced was very funny and Tony Saint's Refusal Shoes made me chuckle. Lastly, you can't go far wrong with a good autobiography and among the best is David Niven's The Moon's a Balloon. I don't know whether I would've wanted to have written his book but I would've certainly loved to have lived his life.