An Interview with Chris Whyatt
Welcome back to my, hopefully, regular author interview series, in which, I rather unsurprisingly interview up and coming authors that I’ve met on my various travels around the Internet. This month, we have Chris Whyatt, from the United Kingdom (pre/post-Brexit, I’m not sure), author of the most excellent Lost Tales of Landos. So, without further ado, let’s meet Chris Whyatt!
So, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you? Where did you spring from? What part of the world do you call home and what is your biggest love/pet hate?
Chris Whyatt, grubby little street urchin in the ‘artful dodger’ mould. Born in 1967, in Hackney, London. And no, this does not mean that I’m a posh banker or City trader. We lived there at a time of communal street parties and little money. It was a place everybody wanted to escape from and move to ‘the country’, which my parents managed to do somehow. In hindsight, it was the best quality of life decision, but also the biggest mistake they ever made!
Home is where the sun is! I love travelling to hot places, but that lesser spotted ball of flame is not synonymous with the fair isle of Britain, so I can see my wife and I spending more and more time away from England. We have three grown up lads, with grandchildren all over the place, so that’s even more reason to be away!
Biggest love? I’m not gonna be ultra-creepy and say my wife, but I just did. Okay, a different kind of love, Indian food. Pet hate? Restaurants overseas who ‘think’ they are authentic Indian… don’t get me started!
What, if anything, do you bring to your writing from your real life?
I can honestly say, I don’t bring anything! I mainly write fantasy and my working life was almost exclusively in construction, which is anything but fantastic. Saying that, maybe a couple of semi-disguised characters have crept in there on occasion. I have also written a short observational rant, which is my real life and a bit like a stand-up comedy in book form.
What’s the biggest buzz you’ve had from your writing so far?
The annoying one in my ear that keeps me awake at night, reminding me of all my shortcomings as a novice writer. I don’t think anybody can deny that actually holding your first book in print is a thing of beauty. Even with all of the mistakes!
Have you always aspired to be a writer, or did the idea just spring into your mind later in life?
I used to love writing long stories, poems and believe it or not, limericks, of all things, as a kid, but it eased off as real-life kicked in. I think it has always been there (the go on, you could do that voice in my head), but the decades slipped by. Eighteen months ago, I simply came home one day and started writing… and didn’t stop.
What is the hardest thing you find about writing?
I think you know the answer to this one Rob! Formatting, punctuation and maybe grammar. Y’know, all the technical, boring stuff! On a serious note, English was the only academic subject I was good at in my school days. It’s amazing what you forget after a thirty-seven-year gap!
What are your top three books/stories of all time and why do you love them so much?
Can’t do three books! Will go with series instead, sorry…
It was my first foray into fantasy and I don’t think many, if any, fantasy fans, wouldn’t mention The Lord Of The Rings. No explanation needed!
I always lean towards humour and it was great that certain authors combined the two, so anything by Terry Pratchett, but with a definite edge towards The Watch, and the Wizards books. I also love Sci-Fi, but again, lean towards humour. Although I was probably way too young to read them, I used to love ‘The Stainless Steel Rat’ books by Harry Harrison. Pure genius.
Look, this is cheating Rob (count ’em), but I’ve also got to say ‘The Bible’. I’m not at all religious, but I don’t see how anybody can make even the thought of a decision either way, without at least reading it. It got me interested but didn’t sway me. A fascinating read when I was younger, nonetheless. I think I’m also right in saying, it is still the second-best selling book in the world, just behind The Fifth Horseman!
Have you ever started to write a story and then completely given up on it? If so, what were the reasons behind your decision?
I started writing a Sci-Fi novel in my teens and it was turning into a monster. I made the covers, illustrated it myself throughout — I was a bit of an artist too in those days — and it just kept growing and growing, until one day… football, beer and girls, probably in that order, too! I don’t even remember what happened to it, but I would dearly love to see it again.
You’re a bit of a demon on Twitter, I’ve noticed. How much time do you spend on social media each day and it is a happy balance for you, relative to all the other things that you are doing?
Demon? Me? I hated social media, until I started writing, as most are just soap boxes for so called families and friends to snipe at each other. I must admit that I found Twitter to be different. Yes, I do have fun on there, I wind people up and hopefully make most of them laugh. Not everybody shares my strange sense of humour though, which is fair enough, so I try not to overstep the mark. I tend to go back and forth to it, rather than invest huge chunks of time and I usually have plenty of time anyway, hence how the writing started.
What did you expect when you joined Twitter’s amazing writing community? Has it lived up to your expectations?
Now this I could write a book about! Didn’t know what to expect, as I did not have a clue what I was doing. I started following some famous people I liked, as you do and somehow, I inadvertently managed to insult one of the authors that I respected the most. I put out what I thought was a general tweet, but I had unwittingly sent it directly to him! He replied in person and was quite cool about it, but unfortunately his thousands of fans were not! I received about five hundred ‘death tweets’ in my first few days on Twitter! Beat that! Seriously, it had a massively negative effect on my novel, which I went on there, primarily to promote! My book never recovered, but since my return, I have found that the writing community are a wonderful family and an invaluable help.
Are you working on anything at the moment and if so, when and where can we expect to see it?
This all depends on the novels I have out there now. I am trying to ascertain whether people like the stories and characters enough for me to actually press forward, get it professionally edited and republished and add more in the future. I know it Is probably the wrong way to do it, but I was a complete novice, who just simply started writing. I looked online and there was Amazon: ‘Upload it, and we’ll publish it’, which I did and so they did, to be fair to them. Obviously, it was nowhere near ready, but I wasn’t to know that.
Finally, do you have a message for your fans out there and also any sage words of advice for aspiring authors?
My ‘fan’ already knows my message; ‘next time, get lots of opinions and advice, if that feedback looks good, go for professional editing and only then upload or query. You live and learn. Might just have a second fan on the horizon though, eh Rob? No?
Rob’s Note: Since Chris Whyatt provided this interview, I have had a go at helping him with some of the technical, boring stuff on his novels. Consequently, he has released them separately, which is great. Click on the imgaes below to go straight to the books!