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
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
1. Have you
worked here for a long time?
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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!