News Column

I aim to scar kids for life [Birmingham Mail (UK)]

September 13, 2013


Author and comedian Charlie Higson visits Birmingham next week to promote his latest book for teenagers. He talks to Sarah Probert Q& As a writer, author, actor and comedian there are many different aspects to your career. Do you have a particular favourite? You know, what I really like doing is playing Call Of Duty 4 online, which is what I spend far too long doing every day, when I'm supposed to be working.

Tell us about your latest book The Fallen. The Fallen is the fifth book in a horror series that I've been writing for teenagers (but which is read by kids and adults of all ages). A disease has killed most adults on the spot and the rest have become 'sickos', their brains and bodies so badly rotted away that they behave like classic cannibal zombies. So it's about kids trying to survive on the streets of London and avoid being eaten by their mothers and fathers.

The book sounds pretty gruesome. What inspired you to write in that genre? I've always loved horror and I figured if I could really scare a kid, if I could scar them for life, they would always remember my book and where they were when they first read it. And that's what us writers want - to be remembered.

You have worked with Paul Whitehouse for many years on various TV and radio shows including The Fast Show and more recently Radio 4's Down the Line. Tell us about your relationship and some of the highlights of that partnership over the years? I met Paul in 1977 at university in Norwich. We both wore straight trousers and had short hair and so we gravitated towards each other and started a punk rock group together. Unfortunately Paul didn't last long at Uni - he claims he left, the university claims it threw him out. We kept in touch over the years and always made each other laugh. Later on we were working together as decorators in London when our friend Harry Enfield started doing television work and asked us if we wanted to write stuff for him. One of the last jobs we did together was decorating Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie's house. Later on they'd made enough money in TV to buy their own places, and we'd made enough money in TV to buy the house we'd decorated for them. Someone should put up a plaque. What projects are you both working on together at the moment? We've got a few ideas in the pipeline - a possible Christmas film for TV and maybe something to celebrate 50 years of BBC2 and 20 years of the Fast Show next year.

What have been the best and worst moments of your career? I've been lucky to have had a fantastic career doing lots of different things - all of them fun. I was a singer for six years and was actually a very good decorator and enjoyed doing that and I've had huge fun as a writer of books, TV, radio and film, plus I've been an actor. The Fast Show is obviously a big highlight of my career but I was equally happy playing Demis Roussos on the Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, running around on Scarborough beach in a pink nightie. There have been a few upsets and setbacks over the years as well, but I prefer to forget about them and move on.

You formed a band, The Higsons, when you left university. What was that like and would you like to get back into music? It was great fun being in a band when I was young and I'm glad I got it out of my system. I meet so many people, particularly in comedy, who wish they'd lived the rock 'n' roll lifestyle and will get on stage and sing or play loud music at the drop of a hat. We had a blast. We toured the world and were given free beer, but technically I wasn't the greatest singer in the world and I don't have a God-given talent, so I don't think the great British public is clamouring for me to come back and do some more. Although recently BBC4 used our first single as the music track for their drama highlights package. Which was nice.

You are visiting Birmingham next week to promote your book. Do you have any memories of the city? Lots of good memories of Birmingham. It was one of the places we played a lot when we were in the band. And we had a good laugh in the city on the last Fast Show tour. It's great seeing how the city has developed over the years and what a fun and exciting place it is now. Brilliant to have such a fantastic new library as well.

What's your most embarrassing moment? Well I was being interviewed by Jonathan Ross once and he fell asleep... but I don't know if that was more embarrassing for him or for me.

Which four people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner, and what would you cook them? Sweeney Todd, Sawney Bean, Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer. I'd cook them a nice plump child to celebrate the publication of my new cannibalistic novel.

The Fallen by Charlie Higson is out now, published by Penguin. Charlie Higson will be signing books at Waterstone's High Street, Birmingham, on Tuesday at 6pm.

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