"I tend to bleed less when I write a book."

from a conversation with Chris Wooding

Q: So where'd you grow up? What was it like?
A: I grew up in a scummy little ex-mining town called Coalville, which was an unrelentingly dreary doomscape of grey skies and miserable people (imagine Mordor, but with more trees). I did my best to get away from it as early as possible. Most of my teens were spent in and around Leicestershire towns, and the city itself, doing the usual teen stuff and being crafty enough not to get caught for it. It was more fun when everything was illegal...

Q:  Where did the idea for CRASHING come from? How much do you identify with Jay?

A: Crashing basically came out of a comment one of my friends made just before we all left for various universities. It went along the lines of: 'People change, who knows if we'll be friends next year?' I didn't want us all to lose contact, but I knew he was probably right, so I wrote the book to exorcise that paranoia. It was a control thing, I guess. Didn't work, though. None of us really speak any more, which is a shame.

Q: Do you think it's possible for friendships to stick together even as the friends' lives change? Is Jay's hope to keep everyone together a lost cause?

A: Haha! I'd like to think so. Though it's rarely been the case in my experience, I know a few groups of people who've been friends since childhood. As to Jay, well, you'll have to draw your own conclusions on that one!

Q: Where did Kerosene come from?
A: I used to have 'Cal days' back then when I was just too low to meet anyone's eye in the street and so on, so the protagonist grew out of that. People tell me they really identify with Cal's shyness, which is good. I certainly do.

Q: So, you were a published author at nineteen. What's that like?
A: It was brilliant, obviously, but more because I had finally achieved what I'd been trying for all my life up till then. I had a frighteningly sharp focus on what I wanted to do and be ever since I can remember. Plus I was at University at the time, and there was finally post-University light at the end of the tunnel that didn't involve me joining a bunch of faceless suits in an office block. I made it my mission from then on to become a full-time writer. It was kind of a squeeze at first, but I think I've pretty much got it down now.

Q: If you sat down to write Kerosene today, do you think it would be a different book, since you're more removed from high school? Do you still want to burn it down?
A: Yeah, there's no way I'd write the same book now. It was very much a product of that part of my life which has long gone now. I don't really care enough about school to want to burn it down... but I don't think I ever want to set foot in one again either. Urggh... *shivers*

Q: What are your literary influences?
A: Lots. I don't really follow authors religiously: even the best authors sometimes churn out duff books, and the worst ones occasionally come up with blinders. I do like particularly inventive fantasists though, like China Mieville and Philip Pullman. I mainly read fantasy and sci-fi; there's so much formulaic stuff there, but when you get a good one it's generally superb.

Q: What are your musical influences?
A: Not anything most people have heard of!!! I like a bunch of different stuff for different reasons; Last Days Of April, Bodyjar, Crash Tokio, Mega City Four, Thrice, Jimmy Eat World, Broccoli, Leatherface, etc etc. There are also a load of awesome British bands who play round the UK, who are unjustly neglected by the world in general...

Q: You play music as well, no?
A: Yup! In between bands at the moment, the last one having split after four and a half years or so, but it won't be long. Putting together a couple of other projects right now.

Q: Playing in a band. Writing a book. Compare and contrast.
A: I tend to bleed less when I write a book. Usually I get a bit enthusiastic and massacre my fingers in an emo bloodfest. 

Q: What are your cinematic influences?
Again, lots. Lord Of The Rings was obviously the best film ever. The Star Wars of my generation! I like horror movies: Ring is a particular favourite. As with authors, even the best directors churn out some awful films. Films in general influence me. I think I write quite cinematically; I always have in my head the angle of the camera when I'm describing a scene. I visualise it as a film.

Q: What have you been reading lately?

A: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson; The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick; Schrodinger's Kittens by John Gribbin; and about a billion Post-it notes stuck all over my desk reminding me about nebulous tasks I was supposed to do years ago.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I'm on Book Three of the Braided Path, an adult fantasy trilogy for Gollancz in the UK. The first one, The Weavers of Saramyr, was released in the UK in 2003; the second, The Skein of Lament, is out May 2004, and the last one May 2005. After that... no idea! I've got far too many books I want to write, but I'll wait till the Braided Path trilogy is done before I decide.

Q: If you had to pick a quote to fit your life right now, what would it be?

"The first star I see may not be a star,
We can't do a thing but wait, so let's wait for one more."

Jimmy Eat World: For Me This Is Heaven

I'll leave you to wonder what that's about.

Q: Writing. How do you go about it?
A: I get up, have a shower, sit at my computer and write until my eyes start smoking. Then I go and get on with the rest of my life. Easy!