Featured Author: Stephen Clarke


Featured Author: Stephen ClarkeAnatomy of the Writer

What are writers for?

What is anything for? Sorry, I was getting a bit too French there. I hope writers are there to inform and entertain. Personally, I try to do both, and still get a huge buzz when someone laughs while I’m reading from one of my books.

Quill and parchment or touch typing?

A mixture of the two. Usually I scribble notes in a notebook (I always have one on me) – ideas for scenes, scraps of dialogue, jokes, then as soon as I get time I sit at the computer and type the ideas out in full. I hardly ever write actual book text by hand, mainly because my writing is so illegible that I’d finish a chapter and then have no idea what I wrote a day earlier.

Required beverage while editing?

While writing and editing, caffeine, as pure as it comes. My brain goes to sleep without it. It’s such an efficient drug that I’m sure someone is going to make it illegal one day.

Describe your imagination.

It looks exactly like my office – a total mess. But fun to go in and pick something from a shelf or off the top of a pile of papers.

 Anatomy of the Reader

Where’s your favorite place to read?

Books, absolutely anywhere. Re-read my own stuff, on the train. I regularly take long train rides and spend three or four hours just rereading in total peace, no distractions (except the buffet for coffee). But I can’t read on the beach. Much better things to do there.

Have you ever read one of your books for pleasure?

Ha ha. Yes, actually. I have a terrible memory, so sometimes I sit down and read bits of, say, A Year in the Merde, and think to myself, hey that was quite funny. (Sounds very arrogant, but it is quite funny.) Usually, though, I read the text of a book so often when I’m writing it that I know it too well to read again afterwards for pleasure. I am a ruthless self-editor, cutting anything that doesn’t work, rewriting jokes to make sure they work, stripping down text so that it reads easily, as if someone was talking to the reader.

What’s the one thing that the book you’re currently reading is missing?

It’s a thriller, so it’s only missing the big revelation.

Describe your perfect book in the form of a three course meal.

It would have a great setting as a starter – a fascinating period of history, say. I don’t know why but I love books that take place during the Second World War. Not action war hero books, but the background to it. Main course would have to be a nourishing plot with plenty of flavourful characters – I read thrillers a lot because I’m fascinated by how plot and revelation work (that’s why I wrote a spoof thriller Dial M for Merde). And the dessert would have to be humour – it’s not essential, but I love writers who can deal with serious subjects with touches of humour. And none of the above could be stodgy or pretentious. Pretension gives me stomach ache.

Uncustomary Traditions

Favorite places: the garden of an English pub, with a pint of bitter in front of me; the basement of an English pub, with a stand-up comedian in front of me; one of my book readings, with people laughing in front of me (preferably because I’ve just said something funny rather than because I forgot to zip up that which must be zipped)

Weaknesses: caffeine addiction; inability to resist chocolate; compulsion to make “funny” remarks at the wrong time

Believes in: the existence of the universe, despite proof to the contrary

Refuses to: answer this last question. Vive la résistance!

Uncustomary Reviews of Author’s Work: A Year In the Merde

1 Comment

  1. […] understand, if the point was to highlight the culture shock, or even to make a joke of it alla Stephen Clarke, but to take an Englishman out of England, fly him to Manhattan of all places, and plop him in a […]

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