Chris Farnell was born in Leicester in 1984. He’s been making up stories as far back as he can remember and started writing Mark II when he should have been revising for his A Levels. He continued writing Mark II while he studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich – where he still lives, writes and works.
Can you describe a typical day? How does writing fit in with that?
I like to think of myself as a morning person when it comes to writing. I like to think of myself as that, but sadly, by the time I’ve dragged myself out of bed, had the essential morning cup of tea, checked my email address, checked my other email address, checked my first email address in case anything was sent to me while I was checking the other email address, sorted out my MP3 playlist, had a sandwich, read through the stuff I was writing the day before, and sat rocking in frustration for an hour trying to figure out how to start the day’s 1000 words, decided I need some fresh air to clear my head, been to the local co-op and back, checked both my email addresses one more time and finally sat down and started to WRITE something, it’s usually mid-afternoon.
If you didn’t write what else would you like to do?
If I couldn’t be a writer then I’d have to be a mad scientist with a white lab coat and crazy grey hair going off in all directions. I’d smell of burning chemicals all the time and be totally unemployable, so spend all my time in the garden shed meddling with Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.
In your writing, do you draw from your own experiences or from somewhere else?
I try to steer clear of writing autobiography, but Mark II was written while I was in school, and my worries tended to revolve around friendships and homework and people I fancied. Strangely enough, so did Mark and Phil’s. Now my characters spend more time worrying about their jobs and how they’re going to pay the bills. I choose to think this is a weird coincidence.
For you, does plot come before character, or character before plot?
My stories tend to start with a very simple idea. Something that sounds cool, that you can sum up in one sentence. Often it’s the stupidest sounding ideas that are the most fun to write.
What other forms of expression most appeal to you? And why?
I’m a total sci-fi fanboy, in books, on telly and film. If it’s got spaceships, robots, laser beams or some combination of the three, I’ll probably be there. I’m currently working my way through a Battlestar Galactica boxed set, and it’s the biz. I’m also an aficionado of student poetry evenings and the ancient Japanese art of karaoke.