What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
Stories were my strong point at school, so I did a degree in English and Creative Writing. Then I began my copywriting career at Pan Macmillan, writing blurbs for the complete back catalogue of Jackie Collins among many others.
But I only got really serious about ten years ago, when I went freelance from my job in advertising to write novels. I was published at the third attempt with Five To One, the story of the day a helicopter crashes on Clapham Common. It won a debut novel competition run by an e-publisher and it’s on Amazon.
I tend to be inspired by the confluence of two unrelated ideas. In the case of the novel I’m writing now, it was the recent furore over Lance Armstrong, coming clean about doping after lying for years – and cryptozoology. That said, it’s not about cycling, drugs or Bigfoot – at least, not yet…
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
Five or six days a week if I’m not working in advertising, versus the odd early morning and day at the weekend if I am. Most of the time I’m doing either copywriting or novel writing, and over the last couple of years I’ve managed to split my time roughly 50/50.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I write contemporary fiction, which probably suffers from not really being a genre at all. You tend to hear that romance/crime/thrillers etc are easier to sell, because they have a defined, readily accessible market. Sometimes I feel like I’ve chosen the toughest path for myself. But hey, if I didn’t write what I wanted to write, it’d be like having another day job – and I don’t want that.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I try to write the kind of books I want to read. I love writers like Zoe Heller, Philip Hensher and Catherine O’Flynn, and novels like theirs are what I aspire to.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
Currently I’m working with my agents, Raimondi & Campbell, to find a home for some of my unpublished stuff. There’s Light From Other Windows (about the havoc wreaked on an ordinary family by the travel blog of a teenage son when he’s swept away in a tsunami); Dinner at the Happy Skeleton (love, sex and a midlife crisis played out in the backwaters of Europe); Gillian Vermillion – Dream Detective (for children, about a little girl who can read people’s dreams). The print rights for Five To One are available too – and then of course there’s the one I’m writing now…
What are your writing plans for the future?
To carry on with that and make it as good as it can be. I aim to finish it by early 2014.
Where can people find out more about you?
At my website, www.chrischalmers.net… On Twitter, badly disguised as @CCsw19… And via my agent, www.raimondicampbell.com… I’m also reading in London at Brixton Book Jam on 6th May and Polari on 26th June.