I recently reviewed Chaplin and Company by Mave Fellowes and the lovely people at Jonathan Cape asked if I’d like to do a Q and A with her so of course I said yes! Thank you to Mave for indulging me, being a huge fan of Charlie Chaplin myself I had to ask about him and a couple of actual book related questions along the way!
What was the inspiration behind Chaplin and Company?
MF: I used to live in a flat overlooking the Grand Union Canal near Harrow Road, and wondered what it would be like to live on a boat in the middle of such a busy, frenetic city. Life on the water seems to go at its own pace, and there’s a kind of discipline to it – having to organise life into such a confined space. Little Venice is a beautiful spot but other parts of the canal are gloomy and derelict, some of London’s most invisible, neglected places. There’s something out of time about them.
Odeline was an interesting character, is she based on anyone?
MF: No one in particular but I had the idea of writing about a terrible children’s entertainer after watching a very surly magician performing to children in Wormwood Scrubs prison, where I used to work. She behaved as though she considered the work far below her talents, and snapped when she was heckled by the children. So Odeline grew from that. Awkward, prickly characters appeal to me and Odeline was one that kept me interested for the whole duration of writing and editing her story.
How are you finding life as a writer?
MF: I’ve been trying to write for a long time but until being signed by Jonathan Cape, had earned a grand total of £125 from writing. It still hasn’t sunk in that this book is about to be published. The best thing about it is that it gives me an excuse to carry on writing. I have no routine or self-discipline but enjoy doing it more than anything else, and I hope that continues.
Many thanks to the people at Jonathan Cape for arranging this and thanks to Mave for taking part! I’m excited for the future Whodunnit! I love mystery novels! Chaplin and Company is out today in both hard back and digital editions.