On the Record

Set in DeKalb

On the Record with David Quantick

Author David Quantick may be British, but that didn’t stop him from setting his first novel, “All My Colors,” in DeKalb, Illinois.

Quantick is an Emmy-award winning writer for television shows including “Veep,” “The Thick of It” and “The Day Today.” He also is the author of “Sparks,” “The Mule,” and two writing manuals, “How to Write Everything” and “How to Be a Writer.”

His new 304-page novel, “All My Colors,” published by Titan Books, will be available for purchase in stores and online on April 16.

The novel, set in1979 in DeKalb, follows Todd Milstead, described as “a wannabe writer, a serial adulterer and a jerk.” Todd can quote a book titled, “All My Colors,” from cover-to-cover. Nobody else has heard of the book, which seemingly doesn’t exist. With a looming divorce and mounting financial worries, Todd “writes” the book that nobody but him can remember. Soon, it becomes clear that there is a high – and painful – price to pay for his crime.

Quantick spoke to MidWeek Reporter Katrina Milton over Skype about his new book, its DeKalb setting and his other works.

Milton: Why set the book in DeKalb?

Quantick: I’ve visited and spent some time in DeKalb. My first wife was American, from the Hinckley-Big Rock area. I liked the DeKalb County area, it’s not like the America shown on TV. There are cornfields and red barns and ranches. When I first started writing the book, I knew that it had to take place in the U.S. I wanted the book to have a Stephen King feel to it. America is just full of wise-cracking people that would be good book characters. Todd is a wannabe professor type, and DeKalb was the right place, a university town and academic setting. I didn’t want it to be a city like Chicago, New York or Los Angeles or a small village.

Milton: How is “All My Colors” different from your other works?

Quantick: It’s different because the other books I’ve written were crowd-funded. This is my first work published through an agent and publisher. This book feels real, different from the other books. This is all very new and thrilling for me.

Milton: How would you describe the novel?

Quantick: It is a horror novel. I’ve heard it called “a funny, sick, black horror comedy.” It’s about Todd Milstead, who remembers the plot of a story that nobody else seems to know. He can quote it and knows it well, but nobody else has heard of it. It’s a famous book, think of never hearing of “Lord of the Rings.” He decides to write the story himself, and then horrible things happen to him. But it’s funny a bit because he’s a jerk. As an author, it’s much easier to punish a character that nobody likes.

Milton: Was it difficult to write a novel set in America?

Quantick: Writing for “Veep” was really helpful. It is a show all about American culture, and I was always worried I’d get stuff wrong. But the best thing about writing fiction is that nobody can tell me I’m wrong, because I made it all up.

Milton: Where else could we have seen your writing?

Quantick: I’ve written for CNN, Nat Geo and a couple of documentaries. I wrote Will Smith’s narration for “One Strange Rock.” I was a music journalist and interviewed many rock stars, including David Bowie. I stepped on Bryan Adams’ foot once. It was fun hanging out with rock stars, that was definitely a high point in my life. When I won the Emmy award for “Veep,” Mel Brooks shook my hand. I couldn’t believe it. And afterwards, I attended an after-party with the cast of “Game of Thrones.”

Milton: Do you have any plans on returning to DeKalb soon?

Quantick: I’d love to go back to America, to Illinois. I love driving around listening to the radio, to bands like Boston and Kansas, Toto and Styx. I’d love to come back for events and to promote the book and just drive around. American roads are nothing like English roads. [English roads] are all twisty and curvy. I’m surprised babies don’t drive on American roads, since [the roads] are so well-paved and straight. When you’re out driving, the miles just seem to vanish. I’ve done a small amount of press in the U.K., but I’d like to be invited to America and return. There’s really no place like Illinois.

Loading more