Hi Chris, thank you for joining me and welcome back to Novel Kicks. You’ve recently written a mystery thriller, Three Days in the Rain. Can you tell me about it and what inspired it?
Hi Laura. Well, one day I just started writing this scene that popped into my head. It involved a private investigator sitting in a man’s office. You could tell the man was rich, powerful, maybe a bit ruthless, and I had this image of the gentleman passing a photograph across the table to the investigator of a very beautiful woman. I remember that the story just came to me right there as I was doing that first chapter, the entire thing began to map out in my head. It sort of grew organically, but quickly. In short, it’s about this investigator who gets hired by a wealthy business man to follow his much younger girlfriend, who he is suspicious of. At first the detective thinks the old man is paranoid and actually a bit of a tyrant, a jealous man and control freak. As he starts to follow the girl though, he learns more and more about her, but hardly any of it is what it seems and as the story goes on, more and more mysteries are revealed. I had such fun writing it, presenting riddles and new twists and turns. It was one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I’ve ever had.
What was your writing process like for Three Days in the Rain, how long did it take you from idea to publication, how did you approach the planning process and has it changed much since you first started writing?
I honestly worked like a mad man on it, doing 12 to 15 hour days, maybe even more. The book is about 200 pages long but if I am honest it took a few weeks in all, including the edit. It was so smooth and fun, and it helped that all the story was just there waiting in my head, ready to come out on to the page. Nothing changed either, apart from a couple of tiny details at the very end. It was fully formed. I just kept following this very strong image of this beautiful dark haired woman who the main character becomes obsessed with, and it all just came out. I’d write a chapter a day and then I edited it all non-stop over and over for a couple of weeks. It was hard in a way, tiring too, but also extremely satisfying.
You’re also known for non fiction projects including works featuring James Woods and Oliver Stone. Does your writing process differ when writing fiction compared to non fiction?
Writing about films is just really fun. You obviously have to structure the film essays and make sure you ask decent questions when interviewing an actor or director, but you use a different kind of energy doing non-fiction, for sure. When I am writing fiction, the imagination is on overdrive, it’s basically running wild, and I am trying to keep myself in line and all the ideas in keeping with the story. It’s really liberating too. Writing these film books is just a treat, and they are actually a dream come true as well. As a kid in the 1990s I just loved films, and people like Sharon Stone, James Woods, Oliver Stone, and all those Hollywood legends were idols to me. Getting to work with them and interview them today as an adult just seems unreal. So the non-fiction and the fiction are totally different, and I love going from one to the other. That way I never get bored or even slightly frustrated.
What challenges did you face when approaching a fictional novel compared to the non-fiction books?
Well, with fiction I mostly write comedy stories, and I usually adapt them into audiobooks, either narrating them myself or with an actor I know who’s kind enough to voice them for me. With the comedies it’s kind of free and anarchic. I use them as a way to get out all the mad and silly thoughts and ideas in my head. With the recent thriller, I enjoyed the fact that there had to be a kind of mathematical quality to the flow of it, a structure that I had to follow. I love a good mystery tale, so it was refreshing for me to reign myself in and stick to a format, revealing each part of the mystery as I went but also revealing new ones as well. Fiction is more challenging, no doubt about it, because with non-fiction books I am usually interviewing people or putting my personal views about a film or an album on to the page. Both are hard work of course, but fiction takes up a lot more mental energy.
Which songs would make up a playlist for Three Days in the Rain?
Funnily enough, I run my own music project called Dodson and Fogg, and just after writing the novel I recorded an album of songs to accompany it. It’s available to stream or buy from my Bandcamp page, as well as on CD from my website. I wrote ten tracks, some instrumentals to match the story, other actual songs with lyrics which describe certain scenes and moments. It was really fun to do that album.
You can hear it here: https://wisdomtwinsbooks.bandcamp.com/album/three-days-in-the-rain
What’s your favourite word and why?
There are words I just love to write and get pleasue from, but my favourite word in many ways is “today”. I am very much for living in the moment, so when I hear people talk too much about the past or worry a great deal about the future, I just want to tell them to live for today. It makes me sound like a pompous berk I’m sure, but I do think that living in whatever moment you are in is the only way to be really happy, to enjoy every day as it comes. So “today” is a good word for me. Sorry for the slghtly wanky answer. Maybe I should have said sweetcorn…
Which one of your books has been your favourite and why?
I have a few books that are personally dear to me. One is Cutey and the Sofaguard, the first book I ever wrote, a surreal comedy which I also recorded as an audiobook with the late comedian Rik Mayall. Two non-fiction books really spring to mind as well, both of which you mentioned earlier on actually. One is the book I did on James Woods’ film career, for which I interviewed Woods himself every week for months on end. He was just so kind and open to me. I will never forget his willingness to share his memories. Dolly Parton wrote the foreword for it and I got to speak to Sharon Stone, Oliver Stone, Debbie Harry and loads of other legends for it. I was very lucky to do that book. I kept thinking I was dreaming. The other is the one I did on Oliver Stone, which features some interviews with the man himself and words from people like Donald Sutherland and others. It’s dear to me because when he got his copy Oliver sent me a lovely warm message about the book and how happy he was with it. I always really enjoy writing my books, just as I enjoy all my work, but those three are probably the ones that feel the most dear to me.
Are you able to tell us a bit about what you’re currently working on?
I’ve just finished a book of poetry called Through the Gaps, and a book on The Kinks. I am currently promoting a documentary I made on Marilyn Monroe, and I’m editing a new surreal art film called After Lunch on Planet Earth, which is about a bunch of people who still think it’s lockdown. Writing wise, I’ve got a lot of cinema and music books to finish, studies of individual directors, actors and musicians. I’ve been putting together a kind of memoir as well, all about the joy of creativity, with some of my experiences in writing, music and filmmaking. That has been really fun. I also have a book of my short stories to release and a couple of novellas I need to get on with. As usual I’m keeping myself busy.
Is there a book you’ve read that you’d like to forget just so you could discover it again?
Yes, Paul Auster’s Book of Illusions. I remember first reading it and just being under a weird spell. I loved the feeling I got from it, especially about half way through when the book goes into a story within a story form and you sort of forget where you are. Amazing writing. Paul Auster is my favourite author. I was lucky to interview him last year for a book about his two films with Wayne Wang, Smoke and Blue in the Face. He was lovely to speak to and he even helped me edit and shape the book. I also remember first reading Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying and being sort of sad when it finished, wishing I could just read it again for the first time.
Any other advice for new writers of both fiction and non-fiction?
I just think you should always make sure you work on something you really want to do. I strongly believe you should be enjoying what you are doing. If you’re writing something because you’ve been hired to do it and your heart isn’t in it, it will show, and the work will just be depressing. You should be fully invested in what you are doing, otherwise there is no point. So stay passionate about your work. I can’t give technical advice because I don’t really know how good I am as a writer; I just know that I enjoy it and it helps to keep me healthy and happy.
About Chris Wade:
Chris Wade is an English musician, filmmaker, writer, and artist based in Leeds. He is the chap behind the critically acclaimed music project DODSON AND FOGG. His first film, The Apple Picker was Best Film at the 2017 Sydney World Film Festival, and he has made documentaries on figures such as Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin.
His audiobook comedies have been narrated by the likes of Rik Mayall and Matt King and he has a side music project with Nigel Planer.
He also hosts the Scenes podcast, writes Scenes Magazine, fiction, and non-fiction books, as well as running Wisdom Twins Books/Records.
His latest fiction novel is a mystery thriller called Three Days in the Rain. It was released in March 2023. Click to buy on Amazon UK.