Close-Up: An Interview With Novelist Richard Cobourne

Novelist Richard Cobourne joins us on Close-Up Culture to chat about his background in showbiz, his creative process, talking on the road, and much more.

Hi Richard, can you tell us about your background in showbiz and how that plays into your writing?

Put simply, write from what you know – I read this when I opened a fortune cookie at a celebrity dinner in China Town, Soho. 

Personally, I write with a production background in the broadcast, corporate, music and global events, and communications industries — working in the business-of-show all over the world for many years. As a result, I have a deep understanding of the shenanigans of the industry that underpin the authenticity of my novels. One year I took 91 flights (not something of which I should be proud). 

I began my career working for the BBC, initially in the sound department of radio, TV, and outside broadcasts before moving around both behind and in front of the cameras and microphones. During my time there I worked across film, sports, drama, and entertainment… from The Old Grey Whistle Test to Radio 1 Roadshows. Drama productions featured Dirk Bogarde, Lee Remick, Timothy Spall, Jeremy Northam, Clive Swift, and a young Ioan Gruffudd among others. On the entertainment front a hilarious stint with Rob Brydon among many others.

I formed my own production company in early nineties — showbiz life continued combined with corporate necessity. We became very successful continuing to work globally with an amazing group of people. Things happen — and some ‘things’ are in the books.

The list is endless. Each show and occasion different. Each group of people either behind the scenes, in-front, or well-known brings a different perspective.

What is your creative process like?

My characters do the work. The characters are all well known to me; they are with me day-in day-out, so they lead me through the story and what they would do. 

I don’t plot everything before I start. Sometimes towards the end of the writing day I deliberately give myself a challenge for the following morning. Sometimes I even surprise myself. If I am surprised, then so will my readers.

The point about any novel is to be entertained. I write with a light touch enjoying subtle (or not so subtle) humour.

Everything you read in the stories are (almost) from personal experience — I have been everywhere mentioned, so no desk research from me. You cannot beat the smells, sounds and sights of the real locations. Luckily, I have fabulous friends who are celebrities; been in special forces; the police; judges; lawyers; and music business.

What has the response been like to your first two novels, ‘Bandwagon’ and ‘Red Light and Bell’?

Really excellent. Have dozens of positive four- and five-star reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. 

There has been some TV / film interest and in (hopefully) the latter stages of negotiations. 

Many people both in the business and outside tell me that the books should transfer easily to the screen — and that, after all, is my background.

‘Bandwagon’ is a finalist in the Page Turner Awards. I am told time-and-again that my books are page turners – I write so that the reader is tempted to just one more chapter before turning the lights out in bed. Then they shout at me for keeping them up until the wee hours!   

What can you tell us about the third novel in the trilogy?

‘End Board’ — the title continues the filmic theme referring to the clapper board used at the end of a take. It is a pun also — but that is my secret for now.

And we remain in the world of showbiz and celebrity – now combined with some political intrigue and shenanigans (a favourite word!).

All the novels can be read stand alone or in-order. Every end is a beginning. The thrilling conclusion to the showbiz trilogy. Will just desserts be served? Oh yes. The perpetrators, some who thought they would get away with their foul deeds for ten years brought to some sort of justice (state sanctioned or taken down)

And yes, there will be a very happy ending.

You been on the road for a series of talks. How have you found that experience? 

I suppose I am a natural show-off — speaking feeds the ego! There is nothing better than having a live audience in front of you laughing, applauding, heckling… The selling and signing my novels afterwards, often hearing really excellent suggestions and a bit of praise is wonderful, making the years of hard work worthwhile.

The talks are called ‘Write From What you Know’ — a romp through my life in showbiz. And yes, it does include a large dollop of unashamed name-dropping.  With many sections beginning, ‘I shouldn’t really be telling you this…’ Its great fun watching the whole audience lean forward as if we are sharing a secret.

The illustrated talk seems to be well-received. It is light-hearted chronicling a very lucky life from why I didn’t join the army; working alongside dozens of celebrities; far too many flights; being held up at gunpoint; ‘discovering’ future stars; and much in between. Some tales very definitely off-the-record…


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