Christopher Fowler's website

One day, I picked up a book in our local library which looked interesting. It was Christopher Fowler’s “Roofworld”. Normally I don’t read horror stories, but this book was so well written – full of action and dark humour – that I continued reading other books by Chris. My mother also enjoys his stories.

Once I got linked up with the world-wide web, I sent a message to Chris, telling him how much I admired his writing. He replied, and from then on we started exchanging news. When I told Chris my sister and I were coming to London last April, he suggested we should meet up for a chat.

Although he was extremely busy – for those of you who don’t know – Chris is not only a writer, but also the Creative Director of “The Creative Partnership”, a film promoting company. In the middle of preparations for the Cannes Film Festival, he kindly made time for us.

So we met at 3 pm on Tuesday 8th April 2003 in his Soho office. We talked for about an hour (which meant that Chris had to stay somewhat longer that night…) and some of the things we discussed follow:


Chris and I in his office

 

1. Have you worked here for a long time?

I started up the company with a friend of mine. I’ve been working here for nearly 25 years, and in this time, the company has grown. We now work with about 50 employers. Being here for so long, I consider these people as part of my family.

2. What is exactly the work you do?

We do everything concerning the promotion campaign of films. We invent the slogans, we make the posters, we film the trailers which are shown on TV and in the cinema, … (Here Chris shows us some samples of work they’ve done.) We have done promotion campaigns for most of the films made in England, and also for some important Hollywood productions. It involves many hours of watching films, but I can use my creativity in working out the slogans. There’s a link with my writing. Sometimes we make long hours. The Creative Partnership also did some of the more stylish covers for my books.

3. When do you have time for your writing, then?

Mostly at night. I often sit before my pc when I come home from work (I live in the neighbourhood, not far away from the office). My black-and-white cats often keeps me company.

4. One of my favourite books is “Roofworld”. Where did you get the inspiration for this book? Sometimes it reminded me of the TV series “Beauty and the Beast”.

Well, I never saw “Beauty and the Beast”- I don’t watch TV but I heard about it. The idea came from the fact that where I work in Soho, the old buildings are always renovated on their ground floor but never at their roof levels, so the tops of the buildings stay the same over centuries. Also, I was burgled by a gang working their way along the rooftops, and the police told me that this was common.

5. Another of my favourites is “Soho Black”. Are people really THAT crazy in Soho?

The people in “Soho Black” were based heavily on fact, and they really are like that, and have probably got worse since I wrote it!
By the way, there’s something else you should know. Some time ago, a guy phoned me and said he wanted to buy the film rights of “Soho Black”. His name was Scott Rudin. My reply was: “And who are you?”. Of course Rudin did not contact me any more… Later on, I found out he was the producer of “The Hours”. I could have banged my head against the wall!

6. Have you sold the film rights of any of your books already?

(Chris sighs) I have – only nothing is done with it. They tell me that Britain has a horror-boom – so where is it? Jude Law bought the rights to “Psychoville”. He was going to star in it with his wife, Sadie Frost. Now that the couple have split up, I wonder what’s going to happen with the film. Vaughan Arnell (he directed Levi’s ads and some Robbie Williams vids) is still down to make his feature debut with “Roofworld”. Another guy bought the right to “Spanky”.

7. Mind telling us how much one has to pay for film rights?

I ask about £70,000 ($116,000 or €101.000). It happens that people call me and say : “Hey, I want to buy the film rights to…” but when they hear the price, they just put down the receiver.

8. Do you work with an agent?

I do. My agent used to be Serafina Clarke. Alas, one day I introduced a friend to her. She was a teacher of mathematics and she had written a book. The book was such a big success that Serafina now works for her exclusively. And my friend quit her teaching job and is stinking rich right now. (Chris is refering to Joanne Harris, the author of “Chocolat”).

9. You have another agent then?

It seems that literary agents have a sort of code of honour. When they depart with a client, they have to look for another representative.

10. When will your next book be published?

“Looking for Lucifer” will be out in August. I left Warners last year and have gone to Transworld, where this will me my first book. I’ve two more books in the pipeline too.

11. Any word of advice for a beginning writer?

When you sign a contract, just make sure they don’t retain the rights in perpetuity; you can end up not owning your own stuff – it’s easy to do, I’ve done it myself.

After our visit we said goodbye and left Chris to his work. But of course not before he put his autograph in some of the books I had brought along, and after taking a picture!

 

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© 2005 Nickie Fleming/Jansan