On February 17, 2018 Daniel Cole paid a visit to The Netherlands to promote his latest book, Marionet. Leontine and Manon were present at the bookstore and asked if it was possible to send Daniel a few questions by e-mail. The answer was even better: ‘why don’t you sit down with him now?’
Leontine: Thank you so much for having us these 15 minutes. It was a little surprise for us as well, we originally hoped for an email interview, so we have prepared a few questions in like 5 minutes! We both read Ragdoll (it was already on my bookshelf for 9 months before I read it) but I really loved it.
Daniel: Oh good thank you!
Leontine: I really fell in love with Emily and a little bit with Wolf as well actually..
Manon: Oh I liked Edmunds as well!
Daniel: Because he is the underdog. It’s interesting that whoever you speak to, everyone has a different favorite character, out of those three normally. But it has something to do with where you are on the moral spectrum as to which one is your favorite character. Because they all sort of push the boundaries a little bit more. But it is nice that everyone has a different favorite, I like that.
L: You said downstairs that Wolf was a combination of your heroes and anti-heroes and Emily was based on your sister. Did you have someone in mind for Edmunds as well, as he kind of reminds me a little of Luther..
D: I don’t know really. I mean he is kind of like….do you know the actor, I can’t say his name properly, it’s like Domhnall Gleeson, he was in The Revenant. That is how I pictured Edmunds, sort of youngish, he is the underdog. He is the only one who knows what is going on, he puts it all together and no one will listen to him. I never looked at him like Luther before, but that’s really interesting. It is interesting to hear everyone’s take on the characters. Your Baxter is different to mine I am sure.
L: Who is your favorite in Ragdoll?
M: Who do you like most when you are writing?
D: The thing is I tend to change perspective of characters and I follow whoever is the most entertaining at that moment in the story which gives me a lot of freedom to move about and just switch and go with someone unexpected. A bit like Ragdoll starts off with a blood-spattered juror. Rather than one of the main characters that I thought was an interesting way to introduce Wolf. From someone else’s point of view seeing him as a bit of a monster. My favorite tends to be whoever I am writing at that time because I followed them for that very reason, that they’re the most interesting. I obviously have a soft spot for Baxter because she is the main character I think. Even though Ragdoll was Wolf’s story, Baxter got almost as much page time and it was really about how it affected her and Wolfs actions, how the impact it got on her, on their relationship and it’s sort of the same thing in Marionet. She is the constant throughout all of it so if I really have to pick it’s probably Baxter. She is the constant for these book but I love all of them, I really do. And cheesy as it sounds, they do feel like friends that are interesting to visit and I love like following them home in the book and seeing their private life and the little bit they get of a social life. Trying to have a normal life around all the weird stuff that happens in the books.
L: Why did you start writing thrillers and not another genre?
D: I don’t know exactly why. When I was writing my screen plays, there were a few police thrillers, comedy’s and sci-fi related ones. I don’t know. I just had this idea for Ragdoll and it just really stuck with me ever since I wrote that screen play, a compelling premisse, the idea of the list and them desperately trying to work out to whom the limbs belong to at the same time, like the double whammy. It never got out of my head after I wrote it. It went off to the BBC, it got to the very final stages and then they said it had a lot of potential but no. It was so frustrating, I had written about a quarter of the way through the story in the book and then I had to stop because that was the end of the episode and there was no point in writing any more, because they didn’t want it. So I wanted to finish it, I wanted to know how it ended myself and I just loved the characters. I am glad it paid off, it is amazing that it did.
L: Who is Daniel Cole in three words?
D:I never had that question, really a hard one. I don’t know. Give me a minute…I will get back to it.
L: Do you write in silence or do you have music on? If yes,what kind of music?
D: It really depends on the scene, which character and what is happening in the book. There are scenes in both Ragdoll and Marionet that were written to a specific song. I will put it on repeat. Just a song that perfectly fitted. Cause I see it as a movie, that is just the soundtrack that would be playing if it was in a movie. That is how I see it. When I was writing the finale of Marionet I listened to the same song for 12 hours solid, I hate it now.
L: Okay, we have to know, which song was it?
D: It was a Chainsmokers song – Young. I don’t know why. The lyrics had nothing to do with it. It is a nice happy song rather than the big finale but there was something about it that just worked with the scene I was writing, 12 hours of it is too much!
M: Where do you write? At the kitchen table or in the attic?
D: My favorite place to write is down at my beach hut. I live at the seaside in England. On the rare days that it is sunny,it is a lovely place to go and write. Apart from that I attend to work best all through the night. So I will be sitting in my lounge with my laptop all through the night.
L: First we had Ragdoll, now we have Marionet,it’s both about puppets. Is the third book also based on a doll?
D: No, there was the link there. It is more like a message how it’s used in the book rather than a copycat. Book three might break the doll and broken string related formula of the first two titles. We really struggled with the title, so God knows how book three is going to be called at the moment.
L: What do you do in your spare time, to ‘destress’? I can imagine writing a book is sometimes very stressful, because you have deadlines?
D: It is a lonely job, writing a book. You have to be on your own to do it.
L/M: You don’t have any colleagues to ask something or hate.
D: You get a little bit stir crazy I suppose some days. I like surfing, I am not very good at it. I love being in the sea, it calms me down a lot. I like summers, I find winters very depressing. I hate being cooped up having to write. I feel like I am trapped when I got to write inside. That is why I love going down to the beach hut to do it. I try make the most of any decent weather we have, I like going to the beach hut late November last year writing and stuff. I had a big coat on but I try and get every last bit of sunshine out of the year.
L: At this moment you write books fulltime or do you still write for tv-series?
D: I wish I could and it might be something I pursue after book 3. At the moment I have got a deadline for book 3. I feel like I am quite slow compared to some people writing, I try so hard to get it as good as I possibly can. I have got the rest of this year basically ruled out for writing book 3, editing and getting it as perfect as I can.
L: How many hours a day do you write?
D: That depends on the day. Could be anything between none and 20 hours. It depends how it’s going.
M: Taking a break from the characters?
D: Yeah, everyone writes differently. I find if I force it I end up having to rewrite it. It’s just no good. When I want to write it, you can tell when I am enjoying it because there a silly joke in it and things to make you smile. I think it really comes out especially in my writing if I force it, it’s no good.
L: Aren’t you afraid that because it is about the same person that you write the same thing over and over again?
D: I really want to be proud of these books that I write. I don’t want to ruin it, going down hill. I think that is the benefit of having several main characters. You got Baxter, Wolf and Edmunds. So, you have got three times as much to explore rather than being limited to one character, maybe ending up repeating yourself or doing the same thing. I find Baxter fascinating and it’s really interesting in Marionet, to see how she has changed after Ragdoll how that effected her and it has changed her and how vulnerable she is from it. She’s changed and that gives you a lot more to explore as well.
L: Are there any books you read yourself that you would like to see in a movie or on tv?
D: Yeah lots. I was thinking about this the other day. One of my favorite books: Yes man by Danny Wallace. The premise is quite famous, he has to say yes to everything. Absolute every question he was asked.
L/M: Oh, the movie with Jim Carey!
D: That’s the thing, they made a film of it. It was appalling, it was nothing like the book. It should be a charming little British Hugh Grant style film. Instead they went for all out American comedy. So if I had my way, I get them to make that one.
L: So the book is always better than the movie?
D: Well it was in that case. It’s hard to beat a book that you really love. It is inevitable that being a movie, things are getting cut out. I suppose it will be interesting how they do it with the Ragdoll books. So much of the important stuff is internal, it is what they thinking, it is little looks between them and things. Sometimes the movie surprises you.
L: Coming back to my question, can you already describe yourself?
D: Oh, I forgot about that one (thankfully there is one more question)!
M: If Ragdoll becomes a movie, who do you want to be the big stars in it?
D: So there is Domhnall Gleeson (British actor), he is Edmunds. Baxter is a tricky one, she’s started out as my sister. She has involved into her own person in my head, it is not a real person. I can see clearly in my head what she’s like.
Wolf however, I really love Mark Ruffalo, he is Hulk in the Avenger films. He needs to be bigger and let himself go a bit and be British, but he is very handsome but always looks slightly exhausting and disheveled. He is very funny but can turn on a dime and suddenly snap. That is sort of the beginning of Wolf.
Thank you Daniel for your time (and patience)! This was our first interview with an author and in English, again thank you for your time!
Manon & Leontine