20 Questions For……Chris Whitaker


So the lovely Chris got my book of the year with the incredible Tall Oaks so in order to celebrate I asked him 20 Questions. Yes we know how these things go some of you may want to look away now….


The trend for these questions has always been to start with a bookish one. So with that in mind, how much gin do you think we are going to drink over the next few months?

When I was 18 I drank too much gin, then too much Lucozade, then shat myself wildly the next morning. When I was 20 I drank so much Vodka RedBull I had to go to hospital. I am a man that does not know his limits. Drink with me at your peril.

Lovely! See this is why we are friends…

Ok ok a bookish one I love Tall Oaks. That may come as a surprise to some people as I never say it out loud or anything. But I’ve recently read The Summer Cloud (title tbc) – I am allowed to say that right? And much as I love Tall Oaks, Summer is where its at when it comes to BOOK TRAUMA. Yes yes I’m getting to a question – YOU COULD HAVE WARNED ME. Why didn’t you warn me. I spent days in a haze of Grace…

The Summer Cloud (title will be changed) is a book that very nearly got burned, as you well know. That thing about second books being tough, there’s a horrible truth to it. There were points when I wanted to phone my editor and tell him I couldn’t finish, and if I hadn’t spent the advance (damn those magic beans) then I might’ve given up. It’s really dark, much less humorous than Tall Oaks, which I struggled with. I thought about writing something very similar to Tall Oaks because it was well received, but it would’ve been a copy, kind of just for the sake of it, which felt a bit like a waste of everyone’s time. I wanted to move forward as a writer, I wanted to challenge myself to write a story that was difficult to tell. The Summer Cloud is set in a poor town in Alabama in the mid 90s, against a backdrop of the Satanic Panic. That levity in Tall Oaks just didn’t work in this book, and I’ve made peace with that. I’ll certainly go back to writing funny in the future.

As a writer you never know if you’ll get another book deal, so I treated The Summer Cloud as if it were my last. I put a lot into it. If I’m going out, I’m going out with a bang.

I like Pringles. Do you like Pringles?

I like tubular food. I have this brilliant idea for Burger Fries (how do you do that trademark symbol thing?). Picture this if you will, a regular chip, but when you bite into it there’s burger meat and ketchup inside. Wonderful.

I like Pringles, thank you. I feel this interview is going really well.

Yep very well so far….

When you need to bury a body who are you going to call? Don’t call me I can’t even find a pair of scissors in my house…

Emily Burns (Head of PR at Bonnier). She’d help motivate me to dig whilst finding a way to sell books from the burial site.

Favourite type of cheese. Everyone has to answer that one…

The Dairylea Triangle. Does that make me sound like a 5-year-old? If so, one of the fancy cheeses, perhaps Cannonbear.

If you lived in Tall Oaks who from Tall Oaks would you live with? Not Manny. We ALL want to live with Manny. You have to pick someone else.

Good question, Lizley. I would have to say Roger and Hen, as they are fabulously wealthy and have a massive house. And Roger is a complete idiot, so we would have that in common. I’d love to live in Tall Oaks.

We were at Lisa Hall’s book launch recently. How much do we love Lisa? Got to give her a shout out in this interview, we all 3 bonded over our Manny love…

Okay, so Between You and Me I would go so far as to say I’m in love with Lisa Hall.

Hall is one of my fave people ever (even though she won’t invite me to any of her sex parties and is always calling me a dirtbag). She’s also a purveyor of some of the finest wine this side of India. And she’s sold over seven trillion books. She’s so rich she arrived at her launch on a hovercraft. Sadiq Khan let her drive it through Piccadilly, that’s the kind of power she has.

I’m VERY impressed she still speaks to me! I feel all important and stuff….

Dinner menu of choice (or in other words what are you going to cook for me if you ever cook for me. Or perhaps I should say what will Victoria feed me)

Victoria is really into Findus at the moment. She feeds the kids microwave meals every night of the week, aside from Friday, when she orders take-away, bless her.

If I were cooking I would prepare a possum for you. I know how you enjoy possum meat. Tis a little gamey for my palette but I could just eat the whiskers.

Desert Island discs – 3 songs or pieces of music that speak to your soul…

Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead (best lyrics ever)

The Swan by Camille Saint Saëns (read book 2 for that one)

Hit ‘em up by 2Pac (‘cause sometimes my inner badass MOFO can’t be denied)

You recently took part in your first ever panel at the amazing Killer Women Festival. What was that like for you? Yeah sorry about the whole glaring at you from the front row thing…

It was such an amazing experience. I’m so grateful to Sarah Hilary, she’s a total pro and put me at ease throughout. I was a bit scared when they attached a microphone to me, and then pointed cameras at me, but I really, really enjoyed it. I thought the whole festival was awesome, easily the best I’ve been to.

And the green room! I got to meet so many famous authors! At one point I was introduced to Paula Hawkins! I kept mumbling ‘she’s the girl on the train’ until Katherine led me back to my corner and gave me a Capri-Sun.

I’m doing my books of the year on 1st December. I expect Tall Oaks will get a mention but you know I’m fickle so you never know what I might do (Or already have done by the time this runs) Name 2 books (ONLY 2) that you’ve read this year and you’d like to make everyone else read. You are not allowed to choose Bonnier or Twenty7 books we’ll come to that later…

Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. Thanks for the recommendation, I LOVED this book.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint. I’m only halfway through at the moment but it’s a very special book.

And as for your book of the year, I’m aware of the competition so just being in consideration is blahblahblahblah. I want that trophy. There’s a trophy, right?

There’s a mars bar…

Back to that desert island – if you have to live there for a bit which 5 people would you like for company? I’m quite good at doing nothing if that helps…

Kris Akabusi. The guy that does the Scooby Doo voice. Mike Thomas. Mel or Sue. Lou Carpenter from Neighbours.

When you get drunk do you tend to get stupid? (I may or may not know the answer to this one already)

Never. I transform into a colourful raconteur, regaling the underlings with talk of my travels through the Andes.

Ok we’ll talk about Bonnier a bit now. We love Bonnier. They are doing great things in the book world managing to mix it up and publish all sorts. I love a good mix. Joel and Emily are fab and recently one of my favourite people in the world (that would be Katherine) joined the team. So I reckon you’ve got great back up. How important is that for you as an author? Yes ok that was a slightly deeper question. And don’t tell Rod that I love that Katherine moved to Bonnier. He’ll only growl again.

I can’t put into words how important it is. I love Bonnier and am incredibly proud to be a Bonnier author. They took a chance on a book that fell between genres and an author that had absolutely nothing worth boasting about on his CV.

It was at Killer Women that I discovered that Katherine is better than me at everything. From chess, to general knowledge, to solving murders, she took me to school. She’s a modern day Ruth Cromwell.

Joel is a genius, he, along with Claire, turned Tall Oaks into a book I’m so very proud of. And the first draft was more than a little shit, so it was far from easy. And Emily, she works so hard to make sure Tall Oaks reaches as many people as possible and she’s brilliant at her job. And she loved Manny. And there’s Bec, and Mark, and Nick and Kate and everyone there that have been so supportive of me and Tall Oaks.

And as for Rod, the guy oozes sexual magnetism. That’s all I have to say about Rod.

To be fair thats what most people say about Rod…and Katherine is way too clever for me.

Favourite Beatles song.

Let it be.

Favourite 80’s movie. (This will either make or break our friendship answer carefully)

No way I’m choosing one. Bueller, obvs. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The Goonies. Uncle Buck. Back to the Future. The Karate Kid. Cocktail. I could go on and on and on.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Seriously. If he gets up we’ll all get up it’ll be ANARCHY.  But yes. All the rest too. #SaveFerris 

NOW you can pick some of your fellow authors books to recommend. Only 2 again though. (Don’t worry I’ll protect you from the rest who might sulk)

My fellow authors are my family and I’d choose all of them if you let me. I’ve read all the T7 books and they’re seriously good.

Lie in Wait by G.J. Minett. I’m picking GJ because not only is he incredibly talented, but also because he’s incredibly nice, and supportive, and I love him like a great, great grandfather.

Without Trace by Simon Booker. Simon has been a TV writer for over a hundred years and as soon you pick this one up you know you’re in a safe pair of hands. He’s got skills.

Did you call the Igloo guy? What about my penguin?

Yeah, I called Keith. He’ll do us a double-wide in exchange for a French kiss and some Werther’s Original. Penguins are two-for-one at the moment so we’ll get a selection. And Craig Fairbrass. He’ll act out if I don’t mention him.

You forgot David Young…

Which one author in the world would you love to read Tall Oaks and love Tall Oaks.

Stephen King.

How much do you hate me right now?

Hate? I could do this shit all day long, pet.

Well ok I’ll send another 20 over later then…

Cool Beans! Thanks gorgeous.

Follow Chris on Twitter HERE

To purchase Tall Oaks clickety click right HERE

Happy Reading!


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