Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Philip Brady to Chat About Books 🙂
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Thank you Kerry for the opportunity to appear on you blog. I’m Philip Brady I live in London with my wonderful wife and two children and I write comedy thriller novels parodying society’s obsession with fame and celebrities. The Meal of Fortune, is the first novel I have had published and the third I have written. I’d describe it as a comedy caper where the worlds or arms dealing, espionage and TV cookery collide head on. My first two novels are likely to remain in a dark drawer with a wet flannel over them to stop them getting too excited at the prospect of seeing the light of day now that I have finally been published. They won’t! I am currently working on the follow-up to The Meal of Fortune, which will be titled Tinker Tailor Solider Chef.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I kind of just make them up. Ideas have never been a problem, it’s getting them into some order and onto the page in a way that people will want to read that is more of a struggle. Despite being laced with spies, gangsters and other nefarious types my books are really about society’s ridiculous obsession with celebrities and fame. I’ve worked with celebs and quite a few more so called celebs in my day job so I guess this was the inspiration. Because the books are meant to be funny the ideas can be a bit more out there. I think readers will suspend disbelief a little more if they’re laughing.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Sadly I don’t know any spies. (If I do they haven’t told me – but I guess that’s kind of the point) and thankfully I don’t know any gangsters or arms dealers; although the above may also apply. The very worst characteristics of some of my ‘celebrity’ characters probably come from my brushes with real life D-listers but no individual springs to mind, or at least not one that I am naming.
How do you pick your characters names?
There isn’t really any rhyme or reason to it. For some reason I appear to be drawn to names with a two syllable first name and one syllable for the second. They just seem that bit more memorable. The publication of The Meal of Fortune was crowdfunded with Unbound. As part of the crowdfunding I offered the chance to name one of the characters – a downright unpleasant celebrity chef. He was originally called Richie Murray and for reasons only known to themselves the person decided to call him Marcus Diesel. I struggled with that for a bit until I realised it was exactly the sort of stage name the chef character would have made up for himself and managed to make a gag out of it in the book.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Psyche myself up, sit down and get on with it. Like many other writers I find it hard to get going, but once I’ve started I can be at it for hours and the time just flies. I tend not to set word limits per day. I am really bad at letting myself get distracted, nothing is more daunting than starting a new chapter and its surprising how suddenly minor things, like finding someone to fix the shower curtain that has been broken for months suddenly take on huge importance. In fact I am writing this now instead of dealing with a tricky piece of four way dialogue in my latest book Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Chef.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
A mixture of crime, spy novels and comedy.
Colin Bateman – hilarious and well plotted, particularly the Dan Starkey books. Reading Divorcing Jack was the initial inspiration to write comedy thrillers.
Christopher Brookmyre – ditto, although his more serious recent books are just as good.
Kingley and Martin Amis (sorry that’s two for the price of one). Kingsley mainly for Lucky Jim (three laugh out loud moments on first couple of pages) and Martin for is often overlooked first novel,The Rachel Papers, although I enjoyed London Fields too.
Lately I’ve read all of Mick Herron’s books. His Slough House series, spy novels with a comic tone and twist, are exactly what I aspire to write.
And then it is a toss-up. Ian Rankin because, well who doesn’t love Rebus? And Evelyn Waugh, just because (but specifically for Brideshead Revisited).
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Given the advent of social media and the increased opportunities it gives to interact with authors it’s got to be one who is no longer with us. So probably Evelyn Waugh. I’d have so many questions it’s impossible to pick one.
Were you a big reader as a child?
Yes, I always had a book on the go. It was reading the Lord of The Rings at about eight years old that made me want to become a writer. Back then the dream was to create whole knew fantasy worlds but as George RR Martin seems to have cornered that market I moved on to other things. I am really pleased that both my children are avid readers.
When did you start to write?
Not in earnest until I was about 26. Up until then I think I saw myself as some sort of writer in waiting; gaining the life experiences I needed to burst onto the scene fully formed and take the literary world by storm. What an idiot. Either that or it was just years’ worth of the ultimate distraction technique. I finally bought myself an old computer and got on with it.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I like a book that leaves the reader guessing just a bit. The excellent 1974 by David Peace does this in spades, so I certainly wouldn’t change that. The fate of the book’s main character is hinted at but never revealed in any of the three follow-ups. More books should be like that but I wouldn’t presume to change another writer’s work.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
Bit leftfield this one; The Thought Gang by Tibor Fischer. He only fails to make me top five fav authors because of his limited amount of books. The Thought Gang is simply hilarious but deals with the issue of loss too. A washed up Cambridge philosophy lecturer goes on a fine dining and bank robbing spree in southern France with a one armed criminal and their pet rat.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
I’d like to say it would be Fast Women and Slow Horses but that might make my life sound a little racier than it’s actually been. I think I’ll stick to the fiction; making stuff up is so much easier than baring your soul.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
Jim Dixon from Lucky Jim. He found the world around him ridiculous and confusing in equal measure. I’d take him to any modern coffee chain. It would be fun to see what he made of it.
What are you working on right now?
Tinker, Tailor Solider Chef. It is the follow up to The Meal of Fortune and revolves around a plan by the world’s most secretive intelligence agency to bring the UK economy to its knees by destroying the multi-billion pound entertainment business. This will be followed by an as yet unnamed finale to the trilogy which sees a US tech giant attempt to buy Wales for use as a conveniently located tax haven. It will be loosely based on the 1980s film Local Hero in which an American oil giant tries to buy a Scottish village to build a new refinery but I only realised this after I had thought up the idea.
Do you have a new release due?
I am hoping that Tinker Tailor Solider Spy will come out some time in 2018 but realistically it is likely to by 2019.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I’ve only had one so far. As I had crowded funded the publication we had a big party to thank all of the contributors. Not sure what I’ll do next time. Maybe a quiet cup of tea and get on with the next one.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
The Meal of Fortune is available from Amazon in paperback and eBook. CLICK
As a first time writer I am really eager to hear what people think so if you do read it please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Philip 🙂
About The Book
The worlds of arms dealing, espionage and TV cookery collide in this fast moving comedy caper.
Failing celebrity agent Dermot Jack thinks his luck might have turned when a mysterious Russian oligarch comes to London and hires him to represent his pop star daughter.
Disaffected MI5 officer Anna Preston is just as happy to be handed the chance to resurrect her own career. Little do they know that their paths are about to cross again after seventeen years as they’re thrown together in a desperate attempt to lure a notorious arms dealer into a highly unusual trap.
Hard enough without having to deal with the lecherous celebrity chef trying to save his daytime TV career or the diminutive mafia enforcer who definitely has his own agenda. Then there’s the very impatient loan shark who ‘just wants his money back’.
And Anna’s bosses are hardly playing it straight either. But one thing’s for sure. Anna and Dermot are absolutely not about to fall in love again. That’s never going to happen, OK?
About The Author
The Meal of Fortune is Phil’s first published novel. It is the start of a planned trilogy of comedy thrillers parodying society’s obsession with celebrity.
Phil’s main rule in life is to never let tomato ketchup touch any food that is green. He is yet to work out any deep meaning behind this and suspects it is not the soundest of principles by which to live your life. But it’s better than quite a few he’s come across down the years. Best not to get started on that one though.