with Colin Wilson, Part I
An Interview by Anthony Reynolds ...
I was Fifteen when the work of Colin Wilson found me.
The place was the library of St Iltyd's High School for Boys. It was lunchtime.
I can even now remember reaching for the book and it's Green Cover(?).
(It was the 1978 paperback edition). The way the authors name was written
in letters as big as the title, making his name appear as important looking
as the book itself.
The book was called 'mysteries' and it really got to me.
I can't remember the details of the book now, save for a few lines and
images. But I can recall with liquidity its atmosphere and the effect
it had on me.
The book took my teenage self out of the dull stifled house I was living
in at the time. My parent's home; a place I would very soon outgrow. A
home in Tremorfa, a suburb of Cardiff, Wales, a place that I was born
The book was, it seemed to me, to be about Magic. In every sense. And..Alchemy.
Being able to make something super out of the ordinary. It was about Everyday
magic. It was about dreams, out of body experiences, other dimensions...and
all places accessible to anybody, anywhere. Even here, in Tremorfa.
Lord knows how many summer days I spent on my parent's big bed, willfully
trying to block out the sound of the nearby park while I tried in vain
to Astrally project.
Of course, being a teenager, my first course of action on achieving this
state..(Whereby I would float around in my 'Astral' form, attached to
my 'sleeping' body by a silver cord), would be to gatecrash bath time
at Karen Bateman's house up the road. (Oh Karen. How many Ice creams did
I scoff, just to stand behind you in the Ice cream Van queue)…
I also arranged to meet friends in dreams;
'meet you by a beach, say, at about 7pm'.
‘What, 7pm dream time or…I don’t go to bed till about
‘No, stupid. 7pm in the dream. That’s what time it’ll
be at Dream beach’
'Then we'll fly to Africa. (Uh..Via Karen Bateman's house).
But I never did manage it.
The book was an eye opener. A mind expander. Another way of possible living.
Someone putting shape and form via words to the vague ideas and notions
that had bubbled within me, anyway.
My interest in Colin's work (and in Colin; I was amazed at seeing my first
picture of him. The guy was a dude. A cross between Bowie and a physics
teacher), my interest kept up into my early twenties.
It was always a treat to come across one of his books in a second hand
shop. There was something extra special about them. Some rare, super ordinary,
exotically familiar quality.
Shortly before moving to London I came across 'The essential Colin Wilson'
in it's 1st edition yellow hardback. I stopped off at the Angel pub with
it. It drew admiring comments, nods of ascent among my peers etc. Colin
was cool. Even the girls dug him. Or said they did. Oh yes.
In London, the first book I read was 'Adrift in Soho'.
I hadn't known Colin could write 'fiction'. The book caught my new boy
in town vibe perfectly. I read it on bus and tube, passing through the
very places it evoked, some 30 odd years earlier. Where Colin walked,
I now walked. The bloodline continued. The cover-a delightfully sloppy
oil painting-showed a handsome kid in Piccadilly Circus, almost dwarfed
by his tan duffle coat, the lights around him meaning nothing.
A few months later, I'm with my first London love in the Virgin Megastore
on Oxford Street. I spy an American copy of 'Sex Diary of a Metaphysician',
in it's 'Cult' section. Colin looking cooler than ever on the cover. Pixilated
cheekbones, flop of thick dark quiff. 'He's gorgeous' says my girl and
buys it for me. We would read it together and so forth.
Shortly after, my life would engulf me completely in the course of record
and publishing deals, world tours et al.
The works of Mr. Wilson became something to be set-aside for now and also
something unequivocally associated with the mythology of my youth.
Occasionally I would come across a piece-I recall a great spread in, I
think, GQ in around 1998-but I had no interest in dream travel or tapping
unconscious reserves of brain power now. I was simply so immersed in the
current and flow of my life and work that stepping out of it would seem..Silly.
Perverse and daft. Inappropriate. . Plus, I had cultivated a rich talent
for drinking and drugging and then there was all that shagging around
I had to get out my system.
Earlier this year, and a lifetime away from London, I found myself in
Shrewsbury with time to kill. I'd just missed my train back to the market
village I now live in. There wouldn’t be another train for two hours.
So I entered the library there for the first time.
Browsing through the poetry and literary criticism, heavy sunlight falling
as it only ever falls across library floors-I spied a strangely familiar
and ancient name.
There it was: 'Colin Wilson'-Poetry and Mysticism’.
The lovely hardback, first edition flew into my hand. I scanned a few
pages and felt an old excitement flicker in me once more. Yet I resisted.
I have not been able to properly immerse myself in reading in libraries
for years. Something to do with the building of my very own 'library’
at home. Plus, I was clock watching. I couldn't miss the next train. I
slid the book back and spent the rest of my time browsing magazines, aware
that my consciousness had been oddly tilted by finding this author again.
Weeks later, the original City lights edition arrived, via ebay.
I read it in 2 days and once again recognized the immortal part of me
that Mysteries had conversed with, all those years ago.
I wondered if Colin was still alive?
'Google' not only took me to various sites and news on the very much alive
Colin Wilson, but it also brought his home address. A place he had lived
in since the 1950's.
I quickly scribbled a summation of what you've just read and sent it,
along with my last album, (at the time Jack's 'The end of the way it's
always been') to the Cornwall address.
A matter of days later and there was a reply. I felt like a kid again.
How happy to be a fan!
Colin complimented some of the songs and enquired as to whether I had
an E-mail address.
Concise E-mails dart to and fro and within a few weeks I am heading up
to Colin's by train.
Due to the convoluted nature of the trip-I have to stop off in London
to pick up decent recording equipment for our interview-as well as other
supplies-the journey is a long one.
I set out at 8am and arrive at Colin's seven trains and one taxi ride
later. It is well past dark and I am, as per me, albeit only superficially,
Stepping out of the cab at the end of a long private driveway, my various
bags spilling everywhere in the dark, Colin ambles purposefully from the
house, paying the twenty five quid fare before I have time to raise an
I am excited and shy, happy and exhausted, tipsy from Jack Daniels and
mad to talk. I'm shown where to put my bags-a sort of chalet well away
from the main building and then led, via torchlight through dark Greenery,
to the main house. For some reason, 'The Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe'
came to mind at this point.
The Wilson residence is, on this Friday evening a hive of light and life.
Dogs bound, children run from room to room.... there is Colin's daughter.
There’s Her husband…
And…What’s this? A parrot?
Then I am introduced to Mrs. Wilson, the saintly and sparkling Joy.
And then I can sit down. A pint of Japanese Scotch is brought to my side.
I am sipping in a room that has become comfortable through fifty years
of habituation by the same person. Books cover the walls, Ivy like. Lamps
cast soft shadowplay. It's tasteful and welcoming, calming and easy. I
feel like I've been sat in this chair for years.
Colin, now in his seventh decade still exudes sort of boyish vitality.
Dressed in corduroy and a grey woolen sweater, moulded slippers as feet.
A raffish scarf and a corduroy cap give the air of a well-traveled Jazz
musician sat across from me. His face has a sage like quality, creased
but somehow un old. Patient and oozing empathy with a sort of diffused
and distant orientialism infusing the features.
I remind myself that Colin has many, many visitors and I am just the latest.
I keep my manners about me and we talk chitchat. I am bubbling with questions
and the triumph of having made it here at all. Brought here by a Green
book, plucked from a school Library shelf in 1986.
Colin retires, as he does every night, before 10. An early riser, he's
up at dawn usually.
Soon the room is darker and it's just Joy and I.
I'm well into the Scotch and talking of childhood and children et al,
but really, too tired to make an ass of myself.
Eventually, I Succumb and she leads me through the garden to the chalet.
'Louis Theroux was here last week' Joy tells me. And then I'm alone in
a place that ebbs a 1950's earl court atmosphere. A bookish bedsit vibe.
I make it to the bigger of the two beds and sleep badly.
I awake far too early and within minutes realize that I’ve lost
my wallet, keys, money and various other effects of both sentimental and
I can't fucking believe it.
The grief and anguish, self disgust and fear is almost overwhelming. Although
utterly exhausted, a banging headache behind the eyes, I search the large
room- more of a library, with it's wall to wall books-for my stuff.
Doubly exhausted I give up, for now.
The interview with Colin is to take place before or around Ten am. I forget.
I trudge to the main house. I hear sheep nearby and there is the sense
of the sea.
It is incredibly windy-a Gale. I take a quick recce’ to where the
cab dropped me off. There is the crushed paper cup that held my JD on
train and in the car but no wallet or anything else. The cup itself is
skating across the gravel, propelled by the winds.
I groan and make for the kitchen where Colin meets me, putting his trousers
on. I apologize for the intrusion-his legs are still in great shape, I
notice-but Colin senses my upset on my frowning fizzog.
I explain everything and he nods in sympathy.
Plans are hatched to phone the cab company, the lost property department
These plans are all drawn up before the morning's first cup of tea. I
feel like a prick.
What a fucking disaster!
We postpone the interview until I've had time to clear my head.
I make for the beach and there I make a superhuman effort to overcome
my rage and loss. I'm struck by how typical this situation is in Colin's
writing: The ability to master one's moods and will rather than they running
I manage to do it, focusing on the reason I'm here.
Oblivious to the harsh beauty of this Cornwall cove I walk back to the
house. In the chalet I have another exhausting, frenzied search for any
of the missing elements. Nothing. I forcibly put the anxiety to one side,
gather my various recording devices-two mics, a tape recorder, a minidisk
recorder and head for the comfy room.
Colin, a life long lover of wine has recently given up drinking. The room
however, seems to be littered with beautiful bottles of Red.
(I tried to transcribe the taped conversation as accurately as possible.
Taking Warhol’s ‘A: a Novel’ as inspiration.
I wanted to present the conversation as most truly are. Flawed, sometimes
banal, littered with pauses butinvolved and involving and ultimately engaging.
This makes for a lot of repetition in the transcript.
Also, having done lots of interviews myself, I’m aware that the
interviewee can quickly click into ‘Auto pilot’ mode and begin
reciting stock replies and stories. I wanted to avoid this by perhaps
approaching the interview in a way that Colin was not accustomed to. Rather
than an academic Q and A I wanted to sit down and record a conversation
that was true to it’s time, place and mood).
Colin: Do you want some whisky?
Anthony: Ha…no. No. Thank you.
I might have a glass of wine or something, if that's ok.
C: Yeah, sure. What would you like, white or red?
A: Red Please.
(Brings a bottle, glass and corkscrew).
A: You know, a lot of the scrapes I get into are fuelled by Alcohol.
C: (chuckling) Oh dear oh dear…
Sooner or later then you'll probably do as I did and have to give it up.
A: You know, I'm really thinking that this may be true.
C: Mind, on the other hand, uh…I've never been a heavy drinker....
They both make themselves comfortable. Colin drinks fizzy water and juice.
Anthony pauses the tape while he arranges the microphones.
When it begins recording again, Colin is talking about a Ken Russell film
he'd been watching earlier.
C: ...So, then, Listz, faced with this giant Prick....uh...but anyway.
A point slightly beyond this…it got stuck…the film…and
it began to repeat itself over and over again and what's more when I began
to try and watch other things I'd recorded it began to do the same with
them all, over and over and over again.
So I've got to tape it again this afternoon....
C: Hello. Are you alright my sweetheart?
Joy: Yes. I'm taking these dogs out for a brief walk. Mike may turn up
here with Rosa and she's going to stay here briefly while he goes to...
C: Alright my baby...my darling. And where’s Sal'?
J: I don't know. No one knows. She went to a Jumble sale and hasn't been
Mike has got to go and collect his medicines...and uh...so I said he could
leave Rosa up here.
Does Anna go to jumble sales?
A: uh…Car-boot sales we go to…
C: OH, (laughs)
A: I'm addicted to car boots...
J: This is a garage sale…I should perhaps have gone but we've got
enough junk as it is.
C: (Giggles)...well as you can see…this house is so Jam packed
with all kinds of Junk…that it's be…um…difficult to
get anything else in…
No room for anymore books for example and I long ago stopped buying tapes
A: Yeah…with tapes...they...uh…'cos I've got a huge video
collection and Anna's always moaning about it...it's in the attic...but
I'm gonna try and transfer...Ive got this idea that I'm gonna’ transfer
it all over to DVD…for uh…you know...storage...better storage...but
then as soon as I do that they'll probably bring out something even smaller…
A: I read thus theory years ago...someone said that...y'know CD players?
Well they had them in the 60's…but um…they were just bleeding
the technology to the public. You know, purely for commercial reasons...so
they would just upgrade...and...once everyone had one thing...and they
had saturated the market, then the next breakthrough would be introduced...but..
Uh...umm…That could be just paranoia I suppose..
C:(unimpressed and unconvinced): Oh well.
C: Unfortunately you see, I've accumulated something like 30,000 gramophone
A: Um…uh...I haven't got that many…a few hundred but uh…Y'know
I noticed that uh...the more I get the less intensely I listen to them.
In a strange way.
A: It could be my age, but when I was 12, 13, I had 3 albums and I LIVED
in the grooves of those records…d'you know what I mean?
A: I live and breathed them and uh…
I got so many now that uh...I never seem to be able to reach that level
C: Well this is the problem, I mean how can I listen to records with
30, 000. And of course the books are here not to read so much but for
reference. You know if I need it, it means I've got the book here…
Of course sometimes I can't find them. Like this morning I was looking
for some particular book that I knew…
I know I’ve got somewhere in the house.
Couldn't find it anywhere.
A: Yes. I noticed the note in my chalet.
(‘Please do not take books’)…
C: (laughs)...yes...that's another frustrating thing, 'because...people
think that, ‘oh, if they're out here they must be leftovers that
are just shoved out of the house. No good to anybody’, so they help
Sometimes they help themselves to my books down here and I lose some valuable
book that I…
A: What? People nick stuff?
C: Yeah. Ha. And sometimes even from upstairs…
All kinds of things, you know…
A: Yes...'cos there's a Julian Mclaren-Ross book there that I wanted
to read...and it jumped out at me this morning…
literally…I woke up and...there it was…
'Memoirs of the 40's'…
C: Oh yeah.
A: His stuff is really hard to get and I read the biography of him last
year, which is pretty good…
C: I met him once.
A: In Soho?
C: Uh, no…
He was a relative of John Laymen who published the 'London magazine',
and he used to publish in this magazine quite regularly and John invited
me to one of his parties in 1956 when 'The Outsider' came out..
And all I can remember is the image of this quite nice chap who seemed
a bit vague and drunk. And John said, 'this is my nephew Julian' or something...and
I'd heard his name on the BBC. But that's all I can tell you about my
meeting with Malcolm Maclaren-Ross.
And I bought that book...I got it off the internet...because uh…I
got quite interested in him.
I found a thing he had written about his meeting with Frank Harris, which
got issued as a separate little pamphlet. So I bought that um...book…’Memoirs
of the 1940's’...which was never finished because he died.
A: Yes. Uh. I just read 'of Love and hunger' which was one of his novels…
The biography is well worth reading, it's really good…
C: What's it called?
A: ‘Fear and loathing in Fitzrovia’.
C: Ah. I'll probably get that.
A: It's kind of heartbreaking to read. He had a family to support, which
always ups the ante, I imagine. But he was literally writing non-stop,
just to keep himself in lodgings…
And of course he wasn’t sleeping and was on a lot of Amphetamine…
C: Do you know who wrote this biography?
A: I think it was um…oh…err…Paul..? Something like
C: Oh it doesn't matter, I'll get it…
Tape is turned off.
C: Oh that's interesting…
A: Yes...it's like the 'Bumble Bee' theory I was telling you about yesterday.
I dunno if you've ever experienced it, but you look back over your life...and...think…
‘I shouldn't have made it...How the hell did I survive...how did
I make it’?
C: But what's that got to do with Bumble Bees?
A: Well, apparently they're not supposed to be able to fly.
C: Ah…oh...(laughs) I see…
Yes, well, I sometimes get that feeling.
But of course I was extremely lucky, really with 'The Outsider' taking
off just like that…
A: And uh...it was...uh...
I was talking to a journalist friend. I told him I was coming to see you...and...he
had been to see you at a question and answer session in London..
He was trying to impress upon me the effect of 'The outsider', at the
time, in today's terms. You know.
It was huge...it was everywhere in Britain.
All over the media…
It was as he described it: ‘Top of the pops’!
A: So…It was literally, the whole thing…
It was...y'know...the classic 'Overnight success'…
C: Oh yes…
Ken Alsop who wrote a book called 'The Angry Decade', said that like Lord
Byron, I had literally ‘awoken to find myself famous’...which
It was, er… an amazing sensation…
Of course what really pleased me was Joy.
I mean, there she'd been, there this sort of respectable middle class
girl who was engaged to be married to someone else when I met her...y'know...and
I managed to get her to break it off and come to London with me. And then
her parent's tried to drag her back and all that kind of thing…
and there was all that horsewhipping scandal...as well…
A: yes. Interestingly enough I mentioned I was coming here to…uh
another, older chap…in his late 50's I guess...I mentioned I was
coming up and he said 'Oh yes, I remember him, didn't he write some sex
Y'know, it's interesting isn't it, he remembered the um...your father
in law coming in to your room and threatening you with the horse whip…it
being all over the papers at the time, you know...saying…'The game's
C: Ha…Yes, that's right…
A: Did he have a cloak on too? He sounded like a Victorian villain or
C: No, he didn't have a cloak on.
But he’d brought a horsewhip…
But that's what really pleased me though, about the publication of ‘The
Outsider’...that uh…you know, this enormous success, that
I'd been telling Joy since I first met her that I was a Genius…
And then 'The Outsider' came out as it were and I was able to say 'Ha
ha you see? I told you so, didn't I'
And that was only within two and half years of me meeting her…
So, um, I was very pleased because you're afraid that you're going to
drag her down…
A: What do you mean?
C: Well, that you're...Her Father said to me 'You'll end in the gutter'.
And as far as I could see that was always a possibility. That, you know,
my books wouldn't be accepted. And I'd just get rejection note after rejection
A: And then, when do you top, when do you give up? Or give in to the
'reality' of it?
C: Well, I’d decided on that, In fact…um…quite early
on. Um, I decided that I wasn't going to worry about acceptance because
getting rejection notes so depressed me that I thought that the answer
to this is not to care to get the rejection note and if they ...if the
book is not accepted, ok, shove it in a drawer, get on and write another,
and if that's not accepted, put it in a drawer and get on and write another.
And so on and that um...feeling...That you'll end up with a cupboard full
of, um…unpublished books and then finally you will get published
and then you'll have all those books ready to publish…
A: Uh…That's interesting 'cos…It would suggest that writing
chose you, in a sense…
A: There's an idea that if, ...uh…you can tell a writer is a writer
if say, he was stranded on a desert island with no hope of being recovered,
he would still write.
C: Hmm. Ha…yes…
It's like Isaac Asimov, when they said to him; 'What do you do if the
end of the unive-the end of the world would occur in half an hour'? He
answered: 'Type a little faster'
A: That's a good one…
(Much mutual laughter)
That business of suddenly becoming famous overnight…I mean at least
it meant that I couldn’t become 'Defamous'…
Although I did to some extent...because the attacks on me...were...but
it meant no matter how much they attacked me...they couldn’t, as
it were, down me for good. And when I was published in 16 languages, as
I was by the end of the first year, then, you know, I um…could always
rely on being published...in foreign countries if not in England and America.
A: I think...with a big success like that…it gives you a context,
as a writer…so that no matter what happens then. you’ve got…
It's like doing interviews. Y'know, my last album, my press officer was
saying ‘The problem…the problem is… I'm having a problem
getting you press because they keep saying 'where's the angle'?
You know? It wasn't like I had had an affair with princess Di...They couldn't
hang it on that…or that I'd even ever had a huge hit album...you
know, that would compare to ‘The Outsider’...but I suppose
you could always …In your case, the press would always have that
A: Which is a bad thing as well, I imagine, in some sense, maybe...?
C: Yes, I'm afraid it is. But… understandable…
But um, I realized, after a while, when 'the outsider’ came out'
and I went on to write 'Religion and the Rebel', which I knew to be basically
a very good book…and it was murdered.
By the press.
A: Wasn't it all written as one and then split into two?
That's not true?
C: No, No…that's not true. Um, but um, I went on and wrote 'Religion
and the Rebel' which has a long biographical introduction in it....and
um...when that came out, the press took the opportunity, partly all due
to this silly horsewhipping business....to get it's own back...and they
really leapt on me and murdered the book, they dismembered it limb from
But the result was...curiously, a kind of feeling of relief, as if, you
become too famous, then there's a feeling that you're on top of a pedestal
and you're quite likely to fall off. Whereas once you’re off and
off the ground, you feel safer, and so I carried on writing.
What did puzzle me was that if I went to America to lecture, I would get
these terrific audiences- wildly enthusiastic- in colleges and all that
kind of thing, and I would give interviews to journalists and I would
think, 'What I'm saying makes me probably the most important writer of
the Twentieth centruary!’…and um...the problem seemed to be
that...’Why could you be the most important writer of the twentieth
centaury and still fail to MAKE THE FUCKERS LISTEN! To UNDERSTAND WHAT
YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT’-you know.
Of course now I understand, looking back at it all, in retrospect, I can
see that it all had a purpose, and that...I uh...plodded on…and
on and on and on...
Rolsh Steiner once said 'never complain about your lot in life because
you chose it before you were born'.
Well them why would you have choose difficulty? And the obvious reason
is, the people who have it too easy, you know, say… Andrew Lloyd
Webber, um…find things...they have no currency to swim against,
so to speak...must be kind of like trying to swim in empty space...
A: Uh...So they er...they develop no...
C: You don't really develop. Oh you can try, of course, once you grit
your teeth and really try hard.
But that's what happened with my second book, 'Religion and the Rebel',
suddenly I was back in a fast lane current and I had to swim for my life.
A: And isn't it interesting with Critics...because...at the end of the
day, It's just a chap, at any given time, writing down his opinion on
something...of another chap's expression…although then again I guess
you could argue that if you're dealing with a ‘Genius’ it's
not about opinion or mere personal expression but a kind of universal
Uh...But I found it amazing that, when I would release a record, how much
the reviewer would be able to colour the uh...er…opinion of my acquaintances.
...and this was just some guy...but because it was ‘in print’…
A: I'll give you a fantastic example. I released a record in 1997 and
um...and I remember this one review because it was quite funny...it said
something like 'Anthony Reynolds thinks he's a international, suave, jetsetter
kind of chanson singer...blah, blah...He is, in reality, a diminutive
Welshman in a Cheap suit’.
And there is some truth in that.
Err...but the 'diminutive’ bit...??
And there was this girl I knew, who I knew vaguely, who worked in the
music Biz...and she came up to me at a gig and said ; 'Oh…I read
that review...and you know, it's funny, as I've known you a while but
until I read that review, I had no idea you were short'.
A: And that's true...
She was serious.
C: You don't strike me as particularly short.
A: No, I'm not...I'm 5-11, pretty average...well, slightly bigger than
average...but the point is, because this opinion was in print, there had
to be some validity to it. It had to be fact.
C; yes, I know what you mean...
But what I was going to say is that, now, I finally, was asked, two years
ago, I was asked by Virgin publishing, to write my autobiography, so,
I said 'OK' and um, then, uh I told my agent about it and said 'See what
you can get them to produce'. They'd once paid me generous advance on
an earlier book. And so, my agent did, they went to Virgin and um…they
came back and said ‘all we can get them to offer is This much…and
I said, well…'See if you can get them up to ‘This figure’
and if so, you know, that'll do’.
I met this chap who was an absolute charmer. Um, this editor there, called
Paul Copperwaite and er…at some London meeting of …the Fortean
society kind of thing. Great big thing at Olympia with lots and lots of
people speaking on UFO's and God knows what. And Paul said, 'I think we
can get them up to such and such'.
Anyway, a fortnight later my Agent rang me and said 'No, sorry, they say
No. They say that they've succeeded in getting to the stage of not making
huge losses on books and they've done that by giving smaller advances,
so...the most they'll do is This much'. So I said ' No…that's just
no good whatsoever ,you know…that figure wouldn't keep me for 6
So I decided to drop the idea.
But I had written off to uh…a friend. A chap I'd met on a trip down
the Nile in 1997, Mark Booth, who is at Random House and I was telling
him of another book I wanted to write. Which was a Sequel to 'The Atlantis
And ...I was telling him all about this and He said 'yes' he'd be quite
interested to see it and was I writing anything else? So I said, ‘I’m
writing my Autobiography, I'll show it to you when it’s done’.
And I was then about half way through it. And I then finished it and thought
well, I may as well make a good job of it. So, Luckily, my daughter, Sally
found lots and lots of my letters to my family, downstairs, and er…and
also lots of letters to Joy from when I was in America on my lecture during
my first Tour there...and I actually took the trouble to put all these
in a sort of binding and uh...and all my diaries. I've always kept diaries,
huge quantities of diaries, so I had lots and lots and lots of material
and I settled down...and I thought ‘well, I'm not going to bother
about my childhood’…I thought nobody's interested in your
childhood…so I skipped my childhood… and got straight down
to that bit of wanting to commit suicide when I was sixteen. And…then
off I went. Anyway, the book got pretty big, I reckon, I could make it
a 150,000 words, y'know, which is quite a large book, getting on for 500
pages. But anyway I thought I'd just about done that so I dropped Mark
an e-mail and said ‘I've finished the book, how would you like to
see it? Shall I print it off and send it along to you in typescript or
would you rather see it as attachments’?
And he wrote back and said 'Oh sure, send it as attachments, that's ok’
and so. I sent him the book as attachments.
On Friday. By the Tuesday I'd gotten a letter back from him saying 'we
think this is tremendous, we'll definitely do it'. So of course, I was
absolutely delighted, and I said to my agent: ‘well, see what you
can get, and try for this much. My agent rang and said 'he's offered more’.
So, you know, that was really wonderful, but, we were always stony broke
and always with a large overdraft...
A: Tell me about it, bro’...
C: …We never succeeded in making any money…(laughs)
Which is what has kept me writing so hard.
A: yeah, I've always felt that I’m just one step ahead of some
Vacuum that's chasing me…waiting to suck me up. Like that Stephen
King story; ‘The Laongoliers’. But speaking of Advances, Book
advances, of course, it was Martin Amis that set a sort of precedent...he
had a big effect didn't he? You know, with his book 'The information'
I think it was, do you remember?
C: That's right, I think he got a million or something like that.
A: yeh...and I've read a lot of criticism of that because people were
saying...it uh…ups the bar...makes it almost impossible for people
to recoup, Y'know…