Julian Clary answers questions about his book Murder Most Fab:
What was the inspiration for Murder Most Fab?
Crime has always fascinated me, particularly the motivation for something as serious as murder. I wanted to write a novel where the reader could completely empathise with the murderer. They would have done the same thing themselves in those circumstances. Despite the serious subject matter I wanted the tone to be light and comedic, so before I started writing I re-read all of E.F. Benson’s ‘Mapp and Lucia’ books.
Johnny is a celebrity driven to commit murder to protect his career – is there anything you would kill for?
I think I might kill for love, if that isn’t a contradiction. I’d certainly die for love, if called upon.
You’re a fabulously funny writer and comedian, but who makes you laugh?
E.F. Benson I’ve already mentioned, but I laugh out loud when I read Armistead Maupin’s ‘Tales of the City’ books, and I smile a lot to myself when I’m devouring Muriel Spark.
Dream-casting time: who in your head would play Johnny in a movie of Murder Most Fab? And Tim? What about Catherine?
Both Johnny and Tim need to be impossibly good looking, radiating youthful charm and sex appeal, so it isn’t easy…I saw an episode of Hollyoaks the other day and perused the bright young things there, but sadly found them wanting. I suppose a younger, slimmer, better spoken Chris Fountain type is what we’re after for Tim. Johnny has a touch of the Russell Brands about him: he is unconventional and slightly dangerous. I don’t think he washes much, but he’s so gorgeous no one minds much. Catherine is easier to cast; beautiful but hard. Denise Van Outen, really.
Who are your favourite authors?
Edmund White, Muriel Spark, Adam Mars-Jones, Edna O’Brien, Neil Bartlett.
Which classic novel have you always meant to read and never got round to it?
War and Peace.
What are your top five books of all time?
Tess of the D’Urbevilles by Thomas Hardy.
Our Lady Of the Flowers by Jean Genet.
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James.
The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark.
Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars Jones.
What book are you currently reading?
The Collected Letters of Noel Coward.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write? A favourite place?
I’ve tried all sorts of times but it doesn’t make much difference to me. Basically I start writing in the middle of the morning, once I’m up and dressed and have walked the dog and made some tea. I don’t like silence and I love to be interrupted – anything to break the monotony. I don’t really stop until I’ve finished my 1,000 words a day. Even if I go out, I then stay up late into the night until it’s done. It’s like home work. I can’t sleep unless I’ve done my duty. As for a place – usually in the kitchen: it’s near the kettle and the biscuit tin.
Which fictional character would you most like to have met?
Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. She sounds like my kinda gal – feisty and beautiful, and handy in a crisis.
Who, in your opinion, is the greatest writer of all time?
That’s rather a lofty question for a camp comic to answer. I expect the answer is someone like Thomas Hardy or Dickens. Or some old Greek, perhaps. Or someone I’ve never got round to reading, like Proust.
Other than writing and performing, what other jobs or professions have you undertaken or considered?
I have a delightfully varied life: performing one man shows, writing books, appearing in West End musicals, going on Just a Minute, doing TV shows. I would hate to be confined to just one activity. I like all the challenges life throws at me, from ballroom dancing to revealing all in my autobiography. Sometimes I envy people who have a straightforward 9 to 5 job. Once they go home their life is their own, while I’m nearly always pre-occupied with the current project. But I can’t imagine my life any other way. At least I don’t get bored. I sometimes think it would have been nice to be a social worker or counsellor of some kind. I like listening to people off load their problems and then finding a solution. There is always an answer, life has shown me, it’s just a question of winkling it out.
What are you working on at the moment?
My next novel, which is about evil in the guise of a sweet old lady. Or it is at the moment. By the time I’ve finished it might have changed. I’m terribly fickle.
Read an extract of Murder Most Fab here.
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