Hello again :)
This time i am talking to author Chris Achillea who was kind enough to answer the questions for this interview!
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself.
Chris Achillea: That’s always a difficult question to answer. Well, I'm closer to 30 than I am 20, which is a very daunting thought. I play the drums, which allows me to vent my frustrations, if you're an angry person you should try it! I like gardening, which for a bloke in their mid-twenties is pretty lame I know. My best friend (not counting the missus of course) is my cat Stella, bit sad really. I have a degree in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis, which didn't really give me much in terms of career prospects, rather, it gave me a title for a book to write about. I drink loads of tea, smoke loads of roll-ups, and generally do that whilst sitting in a 3 foot by 4 foot 'cave' in my house that smells of Greek man and stale smoke, with the loud whirr of a 1KW computer that packs out 40 degree heat, wonderful eh? The missus thinks so too, that's why she's never been in there.
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Chris Achillea: Ah yes, I was 10 years old using a pencil and paper, and remember writing a story about witches. It was 12 pages long, with bad grammar and contextually incorrect words. The story itself was terrible, and from what I remember, the world had been invaded by shrieking witches and it was up to me and my friends to save everyone. Standard for a 10 year boy, imagining himself as a superhero.
Given that I was using a pencil and paper, and I’m left handed, I ended up with a grey patch on my hand and most of the writing had been smudged as I was writing. Luckily the story was that bad, that others couldn't read it due to my awful handwriting and pencil smudging. Thank goodness for the modern era!
Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?
Chris Achillea: After my childhood attempts at writing stories about witches and Star Trek, I started reading about religion and became fascinated by ancient scriptures, when I was about 16. I think that was the key thing that inspired me to write, as I started writing a long, seemingly endless essay which conglomerated all of my research from hundreds of different texts. That seemed to spark my passion for writing when I realized that I could read back through it all and it made some sort of sense.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?
Chris Achillea: It has to be when I make myself laugh at some of the lines I write. With the exception of my long essay on religion, the books I have published are in the humour genre. So when I laugh at my own jokes and one liners, it generally motivates me to keep going, and enjoy the whole process a lot more. Although that's not a testament to how funny my books are, it's probably just that I have a weird, disgusting and dry sense of humour, so I find myself to be funny.
Books & Writing: I understand you have written two books called 'Memoirs of an Angry Man', and 'Memoirs of an Angry Man: At Work'. Can you tell us a bit about the books and main characters?
Chris Achillea: Right, how to put this… The Memoirs of an Angry Man series is effectively male observational humour, based on my personal experiences. The scenarios are dictated in the first person, and are things that I’m pretty certain the majority of men have experienced. For example, when you’re out for dinner with your girlfriend/wife/mistress and they say they don’t want a dessert but end up eating half of yours.
A lot of the scenarios are based on women, and is very much tongue in cheek. The aim is to laugh/chuckle/smile while you’re reading, as you recognize similarities to my own experiences. Though I’d recommend against reading them if you’re not thick skinned!
Books & Writing: How did you come up with the story for both books?
Chris Achillea: If I remember correctly, it was when I was in the pub with some mates a few years ago, and whilst talking about women and work, it came to me to write a book about it all, because our experiences were all so similar. From there, most of the events in each story were inspired by my own experiences, but there were a fair few that came about through talking with some mates in the pub on a Friday night about women. The second book, which holds a similar context to the first is predominantly about work, and mostly fictional, with a hint of truth in there as inspired by comments made by friends from their work places.
There was also an instance that had a friend of mine (Adam S), that I often shared many laughs with about stupid sayings like 'I laughed my head off' and 'My blood was boiling'. I think that helped me develop the story for the first book.
Books & Writing: Are the characters based on people you know?
Chris Achillea: Tricky to answer. Most of the ‘characters’ are based on several different people, so one character in the book(s) would actually be an amalgamation of 3-5 different personalities that I had encountered. That way, if anyone that I used to know happened to come across my book, then they wouldn’t be able to recognize themselves in it.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing adult humor?
Chris Achillea: Knowing that I made someone laugh, definitely. If 100 people read my book and only 1 of them found it funny, then I would consider that an achievement. Being the person I am, I generally laugh at my own jokes, so I find that I’m laughing to myself when I’m writing, that I suppose is also a contributing factor.
Books & Writing: Are you working on the next part of the series, and could you tell us something about it?
Chris Achillea: I’m actually working on numbers 3 and 4 of the series. Memoirs of an Angry Man: The Holidays and Memoirs of an Angry Man: At University. The former is a chronological journey through various holidays and events throughout the year that ‘annoy’ me, such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Summer, Christmas, New Year, etc. It follows a similar format to the first two books, picking various aspects of it apart, like buying cheap flowers at Valentine’s Day, but your partner knowing they’re cheap and so punishes you by throwing them back at you.
The University one, is essentially my experiences during my degree, like drinking games and how ridiculous they are, cheerleaders, how there are 9 million societies – most of which obscure like the Rodent Appreciation Society, lecturers that are so clever that they come across as mental, etc.
I'm hoping to have them released before the end of 2012.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Chris Achillea: Persevere. Writing can be frustrating, you’ll have periods of low inspiration and even lower motivation. Just don’t give up, keep writing, every writer has gone through it. Then, before you even consider deeming your work as finished you must check, re-check, check again, get someone else to check, check, and repeat until insane.
Books & Writing: Which author inspires you?
Chris Achillea: To be honest, most of the authors who’s work I’ve read are dead, (I read a lot of Greek, Roman, medieval and renaissance literature). So I couldn’t say that there’s an author that inspires me as such, but I am a fan of J.K. Rowling’s rise to success, so I suppose she would count.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Chris Achillea: There’s loooooooooooooooads of places, but mainly the Amazons (.co.uk, .com, etc), and Barnes and Noble. Available as an ebook and on paperback. Or they can just ask me, I frequent a pub in Upminster (The Windmill) on a Friday night, with my cup of tea, roll-ups, and alluring conversation about quantum mechanics.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on the internet?
Chris Achillea: On my website www.chrisachillea.com
On Facebook ‘Memoirs of an Angry Man’
Books & Writing: Is there anything else you want to share with the readers?
Chris Achillea: For anyone who has read my books, I hope you enjoyed them and had a good laugh. There's more to come, as long as I keep getting angry, I can keep writing!
Below is an excerpt from The Memoirs of an Angry Man series.
Are you indecisive? Let me guess… you don’t mind.
This leads me to my next scenario, which illustrates indecisiveness and potentially one of the things that will cause a man to grit his teeth so hard in frustration that he may require a visit to the dentist shortly after.
It starts with the weekend, everyone enjoys the weekend. You’re off work for two days, you can sit at home and relax, you can go and have a pub lunch with friends, or you could even make arrangements to meet up with your girlfriend. Realistically, if you’re off work and your girlfriend is off work, you haven’t really got an excuse on why you don’t want to see her that day. This isn’t meant in a malicious way, but if you want to sit at home in your pants, watching Top Gear, smoking roll-ups, then you want to do that on your own. Sadly, your girlfriend cannot understand this and makes it about them. Asking why you don’t want to see them, and what have they done wrong, and they knew you’d get bored of them. The same stuff we’ve all heard before, which at first had you reassuring them that this is not the case, you just want to sit and do nothing on your own. Obviously, their ego-centric nature does not allow them to see this perspective and they say the one thing that has every man sigh the biggest sigh known to mankind and has you looking up at the sky asking why you have been damned. Yes, she said it ‘Ok fine’. Now a man saying that same thing means exactly what it’s supposed to mean. A woman however means it in a completely different way. It actually means:
No it’s not fine, I’m saying it because I never want to be clear or rational about anything, I simply want you to acknowledge that I am the most important thing to ever happen in the entire cosmos and want you to show some appreciation for this.
You may as well give up now and just settle for porn. It doesn’t whine at you, it shows you everything you want to see, it’s always there when you want/need it, it never moans (well, not in a bad way), you can mute it whenever you want, when you’ve had enough you can turn it off, and you don’t have to stay awake talking to it after you’ve got your fix.
Should you take the safer route of committing to a weekend spent with your girlfriend, then you’re in for a real treat. The nice bloke you probably are will have you searching the depths of the internet to find a day trip that will keep her happy and not bore you to tears. Go Karting? No, she’s bad enough on a real road let alone a race track. The two flashing red lights and loud sounding sirens at a train level crossing are just pretty lights and weird sounds to her. They don’t indicate that a 200 tonne train travelling at 100MPH is approaching and will annihilate anything it comes into contact with. You would also think that the descending barriers would give a bit of a clue that something is happening. Alas no, not to her, remaining oblivious to this she will continue to drive onwards toward what can be described as certain death. Once she has got onto the track and the barriers have boxed her in she will then panic as realisation kicks in and the vibrations from the track pulsate through the car. Hysterical, she will then try and reverse. Yes, that’s the right thing to do, try and go backwards. Just when you don’t think the situation could get any worse, she stalls the car. Looking out of your window you see the train rapidly approaching and issue the order to go forward and smash through the barrier. She obeys. Well done, you have just saved your lives from her stupidity. As this memory dominates your mind you decide against Go Karting, it will undoubtedly result in tragedy.