Interview with Novelist Chris Rose (Wood, Talc and Mr. J.)

Buy Chris’ books online:

wood_talc.jpgInterview with Chris Rose:

Matthew Toffolo: What is the general theme and tone of your novels?

Chris Rose: Good question. Well, I don’t write about vampires, demons, things paranormal, or necessarily anything out-of-the-ordinary. In other words, I love to bring the everyday ordinary to life, that people can relate to, hear, smell, taste. I pride myself on that, actually – I love it when people tell me: Your characters jump of the page. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but that’s what I aim to do…

Another cliché would be to suggest that true comedy veils real tragedy, and that, I’d say, is very much the tone of my books: they’re very dark, just below the surface, but the darkness lies blow the comical aspect – sometimes people don’t get how dark they are, and only see the comic, but, well, if they enjoy them, if they laugh, I suppose it doesn’t matter.

In short, I’d say growing up in an ever changing world is the theme of my books…

MT: Why should people buy your novels?

CR: I think people should buy my novels because, well, to quote a reviewer of ‘Wood, Talc and Mr. J’, it: “captures a monologue that echoes within us all”. I love that quote, I think it’s spot on. The book asks honest questions, and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. I think also that you’ll find parts of yourself, or at least someone you know, in my books…

MT: How would you describe your novels in just two words?  

Real. Honest.

MT: What movie have you seen the most in your life? 

CR: Oh boy, very difficult question. I have so many favourites. Off the top of my head, I’ll say a French film, starring Cécile de France and Gérard Depardieu, translated as ‘The Singer’. Another great film about real life and real relationships.

MT: Was being a novel writer something you’ve always dreamed of doing?

CR: Not at all, I was far too interesting in living my life. The writing was a much later urge, which is the right way round to do things, I think.

MT: Do you have an all-time favourite novel?  Have you read a novel more than once? 

CR: Another very difficult one, but I’ll say five favourites, which, if you don’t mind me doing this, are here:

some of us are booked in for life… – what about you?

As for reading my favourites again, maybe once a year. Any book I enjoy I’ll always read it again. That’s what a good book is meant for, in my opinion.

MT: What motivates you to write? 

CR: I’d say it’s more of a need, to write; it’s how I express myself best. And it can be just a line I hear in a bar or a shop, or something, which can set off all sorts of ideas…

MT: What artist would you love to have dinner with? 

CR: Oh, yet another very difficult question – although I could soon knock out a list of people I certainly wouldn’t like to have dinner with. I’m going to say a British comedian, named Harry Enfield. He isn’t so much an author as a brilliantly astute observer of people, a great philanthropist. I’d just have to be careful of the chicken bones, not to choke and all that…

MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

CR: Music, always, my rare Soul music. Theatre, I perform in French plays over here, which I’m addicted to. Languages. Books – reading – of course. Art. I think all my passions are very much connected.

MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers? 

CR: For what it’s worth, I’d say self-belief and patience are essential. But then I think real writers have those qualities by default; it’s what makes them writers.


Chris Rose BIO: Born and bred in the city of steel: Sheffield.

Spent – or misspent, whichever your viewpoint – the majority of his ‘young’ years on the Northern Soul circuit. It’s around this time and place that his debut novel is set – ‘Wood, Talc and Mr. J’. The sequel, ‘Nacny Boy’, will be out shortly…

His academic education came much later, from scratch, in a sense.

In time, he fell in love with the idea of languages, French in particular, and went on to get a BA Hons in French Language and Literature with subsidiary Spanish, at The University of Sheffield. He was a ‘mature student’, though maybe not as mature as he would like to think, looking back…

After which, he moved down south – mid 90s – and eventually further still to the South of France for a few years, where he taught English. He then moved up to northern France to do much the same thing.

But it was here where he also began to write, or experiment with writing.

He came back to England in the mid-00s and lived in North London for five years, teaching and writing again.

And for the last four or five years, he’s lived in Norwich, where he’s completed a Masters in Literary Translation, at the UEA – he likes to believe he’s most definitely mature now!

He’s now working his way toward making a living by writing, with a little translation on the side…

He tends to be picky about books, and take his time reading them; he expects each word to count; something he can go back to, read again – and again. Things witty, satirical, poetic… Moving. Favourite writers of late? Maybe Markas Zusak. Anna Funder, her ‘All That I Am’. Actually, he’s only just discovered Kurt Vonnegut, and read ‘The Slaughterhouse Five’.

Soulful writers, and their soulful things. And maybe he tries to emulate them.

Same goes for his taste in films, music… and people.


Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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