Interview with Danny Wallace

Not many people can say they appear on the ‘Best of Loose Women’ DVD, have accidentally became the face of a new religious holiday, or are responsible for a Hollywood film. But Danny Wallace can.

The Dundee born writer moved around a lot as a child because of his dad’s job, but this is something that he says had a positive impact on him: “it kind of feels natural to me to walk into a room and just start talking to people, so going on adventures isn’t very intimidating.” This is also a characteristic he says is shared by his son: “I watch my kid now and he walks up to strangers and immediately starts a conversation with them about something that smells of mints.”

Wallace got his first taste of writing when on work experience at a magazine called ‘Sega Power’, a magazine dedicated to all things ‘Sega Mega Drive related’. “It’s weird as it was a part of my life and only now I think Sega Power is really odd name.” Wallace adds.

He then proceeded to set up his own comedy magazine with a few other friends, which soon went bust. It was only after this that Wallace decided to go to university, he says he is thankful that he took a year out of education otherwise he would of ended up “studying something random like geography”.

He eventually ended up at the University of Westminster studying advance radio, a place that taught him how to make his “ideas real”.

Wallace has some words of wisdom for current university students “be nice, get involved and have fun” is his philosophy on how to succeed at university and life in general. “If your nice to people they’ll be nice to you, you’ll have more fun, a more positive outlook and you’ll be more optimistic. If you get involved then you’re making life happen and if you should make sure you have fun”.

Guardian Journalist Zoe Williams once said; “Some people are incapable of getting others' backs up, and Wallace is one of them”, meaning his philosophy of being nice is obviously working.

In one of Danny’s recent books, ‘Awkward Situations for Men’ he spells out some of the awkward situations that he finds himself in on a daily basis e.g. ‘what is the correct way to walk behind a woman at night without both parties feeling awkward?’ So does Danny think he is guilty of over thinking?

“The thing is that in a lot of the pieces in ‘Awkward Situations for Men’ or for the follow-up column that I do is that nothing actually happens in them. It is just kind of what is going through my head or the slight sense of paranoia that you get in a certain situation, or second-guessing someone. If you were to watch that happen, you’d just see a man. But when you write about it you’re going through the neurosis and the what-ifs?” reveals Wallace.

But Danny is not just a writer; he is also a broadcaster and presenter. He has done numerous documentaries and game shows for the BBC and has had radio shows on XFM, Absolute Radio, BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music.

But he is adamant that writing is the most important thing that he does; “the writing is at the center of it all and without the writing nothing else would happen”.

One of Wallace’s recent novels, ‘Yes Man’, was recently turned into a Hollywood film, which boasted a cast of Hollywood heavyweights that included Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel.

Wallace admits that when he heard that Warner Brothers had got Jim Carrey involved with the film it was a very surreal feeling, he goes on to add he didn’t want the original message of the book to get lost in translation.

“Obviously superficially it’s quite different as it is set in America and he works in a bank, but it had to be that way because I think if they stuck entirely to the book it would have been a story about a man who lives on the mile end road in East London and goes to a Happy Shopper. That’s probably not going to bring in very much money. I really just wanted them to keep the spirit and message”.

So what can we expect from Danny in 2014? “Well I’m pretty much going to concentrate on my dancing” he jokes. “I want to write another book, so I’m going to start that. I’m going to do a few more scripty things, so I might tackle a screenplay. I think it’s good to continually just trying to shift the focus while keeping writing at the centre of it”.

Words By Joe Woods