Gays Reading

Chris Whitaker (All the Colors of the Dark)

June 25, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Chris Whitaker, Read with Jenna Season 2 Episode 60
Chris Whitaker (All the Colors of the Dark)
Gays Reading
More Info
Gays Reading
Chris Whitaker (All the Colors of the Dark)
Jun 25, 2024 Season 2 Episode 60
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Chris Whitaker, Read with Jenna

Send us a Text Message.

Jason and Brett talked to Chris Whitaker (All the Color of the Dark) about what keeps friends in your life, horror stories from his time working in a library, what it means to have faith and hope, and Danny Zuko. 

Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks, All the Wicked Girls, and the New York Times bestseller We Begin at the End. Chris lives in the UK. All the Colors of the Dark was recently announced as the July 2024 Read with Jenna Book Club selection. 

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Jason and Brett talked to Chris Whitaker (All the Color of the Dark) about what keeps friends in your life, horror stories from his time working in a library, what it means to have faith and hope, and Danny Zuko. 

Chris Whitaker is the award-winning author of Tall Oaks, All the Wicked Girls, and the New York Times bestseller We Begin at the End. Chris lives in the UK. All the Colors of the Dark was recently announced as the July 2024 Read with Jenna Book Club selection. 

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Brett Benner:

Woo, it's hot. It's

Jason Blitman:

Oh, are you in the desert?

Brett Benner:

I've been in the desert. It was 115 yesterday.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, jeez.

Brett Benner:

It's about 109 now, which is, um, just downright. Uh, breezy in comparison.

Jason Blitman:

Ugh. It's hot, I think, all over. I think it's not all over, like literally all over. Everyone is saying how hot it is right now. Um, but you know what else is so hot?

Brett Benner:

What's that?

Jason Blitman:

All the colors of the dark!

Brett Benner:

Oh, it is really hot. It is fire. It is fire. All the

Jason Blitman:

fire. Oh my god, we're so excited to have Chris Whitaker as our guest today. For a gajillion reasons, not the least of which, because we both loved his book, We Begin at the End.

Brett Benner:

But it's big stuff too with the Jenna pick and then also the film that's going to be made.

Jason Blitman:

Genepik, right. Is it a film or is it a TV series?

Brett Benner:

oh, maybe it's a

Jason Blitman:

TV series? It's gonna be adapted into something.

Brett Benner:

But I think it's going to be like an, like a long, like a mini series. Not mini series, but limited series

Jason Blitman:

Right, right.

Brett Benner:

used to be mini series back in the day. Now it's

Jason Blitman:

Back in the day.

Brett Benner:

back in the day.

Jason Blitman:

For those of you who are new, welcome. Those of you who are coming back, thank you for coming back. As always, if you like what you're hearing, please share us with your friends. Like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you could give us a little five star review wherever you listen, that is super helpful for folks to, find us. we also have gaze reading merch, and any book that we talk about on any episode, you could find on our bookshop. org page. And All of those links can be found in our show notes, as well as the link tree on our Instagram, which is at Gay's Reading.

Brett Benner:

three books that are on our radar that are coming out today. first of all, there is Hombrecito from our own guest on the show, Santiago José Sánchez. Also out today is Bear by Julia Phillips.

Jason Blitman:

Ashley Poulston's new book, a novel love story. people really loved her book, the dead romantics. This is her new book.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, and that other book was The Lion's Den By Iris Monza also comes out today.

Jason Blitman:

Amazing.

Brett Benner:

out on our bookshop. org page.

Jason Blitman:

Chris Whitaker is the award winning author of Tall Oaks, All the Wicked Girls and the New York Times bestseller, We Begin at the End. Chris lives in the UK and it was just announced that All the Colors of the Dark will be the next Read with Jenna book club pick. Transcribed As we just said, I'm Jason

Brett Benner:

I'm Brett.

Jason Blitman:

and enjoy this hot, hot, hot episode of Gays Reading.

Brett Benner:

He's reading.

Chris Whitaker:

I'm here!

Brett Benner:

Good

Jason Blitman:

Hello.

Chris Whitaker:

Morning, how are you both?

Brett Benner:

Well, I guess it's, it's, it's afternoon for you. We're saying good morning here. Good afternoon there.

Jason Blitman:

Right. It's afternoon for you. You done many things for this book yet?

Chris Whitaker:

This is my second for this book, so it's really like the very beginning. I did tons of stuff for my last book, um, but I'm not tired of talking about the book, which is really nice.

Brett Benner:

right.

Jason Blitman:

but even still,

Chris Whitaker:

Mm hmm.

Jason Blitman:

once you, once you go gaze reading,

Brett Benner:

You'll never go back.

Chris Whitaker:

Well, yeah, it's all downhill from here on, isn't it? That's what I'm

Brett Benner:

right. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

We're so excited to meet you. I think there are a lot of reasons, but one, you are among the main reasons that this podcast even started.

Chris Whitaker:

Wow, well tell me about that, because that is very cool.

Jason Blitman:

So, so I'm a late in life reader and sort of fell into the Bookstagram community, during COVID. And, you know, I picked up a couple of books during COVID and was like, okay, I like, I like this reading thing again, I remember. And then all of a sudden I was like, reading, reading's amazing. Have you heard of this thing? It's called reading books. They're awesome. Some of the books that I was reading, I would look at Brett's Instagram and I was like, Oh, I read that book. I liked that book. He liked that book too. I should read this other one that he's talking about. I would read that and I'd say, Oh, I like that book. And then I wrote to him and I was like, let me introduce myself. I like all your stuff. what's one of your favorite books of the year so far? And he said, we begin at the end. And so I read the book and I was like, Oh my God, I love this book. And it was one of the first books that we've really bonded over. And that was sort of the beginning of this friendship. And then, you know, probably like a year later we started this podcast.

Chris Whitaker:

That is the most lovely story. It really is. So I thought, I thought that you'd be friends, you know, that you would have been friends for forever,

Brett Benner:

Basically half of my life, Jason wasn't even born.

Jason Blitman:

So anyway, you're, you're to thank for this podcast. So

Chris Whitaker:

I'm honoured. I'm honoured that they

Jason Blitman:

That's a good thing. Your book didn't suck.

Brett Benner:

I know.

Chris Whitaker:

For many reasons.

Jason Blitman:

First and foremost, do you have an elevator pitch for the book?

Chris Whitaker:

I do actually, for the first time ever, I, I was in contract for this book before I'd. properly pitched it to anyone. And, um, and I thought I need, like, my agent said, you need two or three lines, just something. And, um, I had it already because I had the idea for the book and it was a really simple premise. It was two abducted teenagers fall in love in the pitch black basement they're being held in, having never seen each other. The boy escapes and can't find his way back to the girl. Um, the police don't believe that she's real because they think that he was held down there. It was so traumatic. He made her up. He kind of conjured her. from this dark place in his mind, um, but he knows in his heart that she's real. So, um, what follows is an epic search to find her and the man that took him. So there we go. How was it? And I've done that loads of times,

Jason Blitman:

That was great.

Chris Whitaker:

I don't see people.

Jason Blitman:

But I will say, it drives me nuts that so many book descriptions give so much away because I don't think, I don't think we learn that Patch escapes until like page a hundred and something. Mm hmm.

Brett Benner:

500 more to go after her.

Chris Whitaker:

No, that's all right. That's right. But we had a really interesting conversation. Me and my editor, but we, because we talked about how I talk about the book, like say I'm going to do like tons of PR and things for this book and coming on tour. if I can't tell people that Patch makes it out, it's really difficult to answer questions because the book is so much more than

Jason Blitman:

every single question that I have for you doesn't give that away.

Chris Whitaker:

Oh, wow.

Jason Blitman:

So

Chris Whitaker:

Okay, I'm gonna

Jason Blitman:

I'm not fucking around. You let her know, I have some feedback.

Chris Whitaker:

yeah, exactly. But no, I think, I think it would, I think it would make it very difficult. For me, I think.

Jason Blitman:

No, of course. I mean, and, and especially because you have these young protagonists who you, you do root for, and you want to talk about how you root for them throughout the whole book.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, exactly.

Jason Blitman:

you know, you talk about, how setting your books in the U S. have been a bit of an escape for you.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Has that been helpful? Has that continued to be helpful? Yeah. Right.

Chris Whitaker:

I just, I don't think I could do it any other way. Like, particularly this book, it turned into such a monster of a book. Like, like the pitch I just gave you was quite simple, but it evolved from there. into this, you know, it spans 27 years. And, um, and when I pitched it originally, it was, it was quite simple and I was going to deliver it in a year maybe and be published in two years. And here we are four years later. Um, and that's because it just, it, it kind of took on a life of its own, you know, as I was writing, I thought I was really interested in, you know, in our lives when we have these kind of what if sliding doors moments. You know, when you look back, it can be something really simple, you know, like an alarm clock not going off or something like that. And then it changes the course of things for you. And, um, and I was really interested in, in what would happen to Patch, this kid who does this really brave thing, you know, a girl's, um, about to be abducted. He steps in, gets taken instead. And that, that one kind of simple act changes everything for him. And, um, and then, you know, I've had things like that in my life. And I imagine like parallel versions. Of lives, you know, and what, what would have happened if he hadn't helped the girl, um, you know, where would he have been, and where would everyone else around him be? And, um, and it's, you know, it's that kind of, those kind of knife edge decisions that I was really interested in, and, um, and to properly answer that question, I needed to spend way more time with the characters. Like, We Begin at the End is, is a year in the life of Duchess, and, um, and this, this book is 27 years in the life of, of Patch and Saint.

Brett Benner:

Well, what's, what's so amazing about it. And Jason and I talked about this at points through, cause we were reading it many times. We're not reading the books at the same time, but this is absolutely one. We were reading almost right in line with each other. And we kept talking about the book resets a lot of times. And you're thinking, Oh my God, here's like, I remember him even saying, right. When. Like we've already said about patch getting out. He's like, what happens now? Like, where is this going to launch into next? And there was so many times with that. That was so

Jason Blitman:

interesting because again, like I think even talking about the fact that he's, he does survive doesn't really give much away because you, you leave these breadcrumbs throughout the first chunk of the book that basically implies He will survive and as the reader, I was like, okay, there's going to be this long journey and then the book will end with us learning he's alive. So then a hundred pages in, I was like, Brett, there are 500 more pages. Where's the book going to go?

Brett Benner:

Oh man, this is, This is fucking epic. Like this is huge.

Jason Blitman:

I think part of, part of what is achievable in that and why it's, Why it's sort of worth the time, I say in quotation marks, is because you, exactly what you were just talking about in terms of trauma and how it changes you. And I think you track those changes throughout the, you know, 600 some odd pages. But what is also very interesting is life events, both big and small, change us. And change us in good ways and bad ways and big ways and small ways.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

You've spoken a little bit about your own childhood trauma. You know, I don't know what you feel comfortable sharing, but I think there's something very interesting. Great.

Chris Whitaker:

Always.

Jason Blitman:

So cool, cool, cool. Here's a little razor. Open all your wounds.

Brett Benner:

Exactly. Let's pull up a chair. My coffee's hot.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

But can you talk a little bit about ways, perhaps, in both big ways that you've noticed changes in your life, but also maybe small ones. An example, uh, for Patch is that Saint notices is that he no longer appreciates pebbles, right? These like tiny little things that you don't even necessarily realize. Have you, do you have those things in your life too?

Chris Whitaker:

I think so. I think, um, I think I, I got to thinking about it because my son asked me what I was like at his age. He's 10. And I told him that I was just like him. And I definitely wasn't just like him. I had a way Yeah. Yeah. And these are things that they don't know about my kids, but they will because I've, um, I've been writing about it for stuff that come out in the summer and they've learned to Google me now. So they find out, they find out all my darkest secrets, but my, um, my parents divorced when I was quite young and then, um, and then kind of the thing with divorce is new people come into your life. And, um, you know, you end up with, um, new adults in your life and, and one of them was quite violent and, um, and I didn't, I haven't dwelt on it that much until quite recently. And, um, he was drunk one night and pulled me out of bed and we both, we both had my arm snap, like the bone breaks. And, um, and then I wasn't allowed to, to cry or get any help until the morning. So it was a really long night, you know, for a 10 year old to go through. And, um, and then not long after that, he burned me with a cigarette on my leg. And I still have the scar, but I didn't tell anyone about it. Because, um, I'm not great at asking for help. And I'm still like that now. Like, I'm the last person that will ask for help. And, um, and I started to think that maybe, You know, that was my sliding doors moment. That was the point where my life changed, because I didn't do well at school after that, and I stopped going to school, actually. I used to skip school all the time, and I got caught, and got into trouble, and didn't do well in my exams. And I've talked before about being mugged when I was a teenager. I was mugged and stabbed. And I think that the reason that I didn't give my phone to the guy, even when he pulled out a knife, might have been because I felt like a victim when I was a kid. Like, so when I was 10, I was kind of powerless, and I just, I really didn't want to feel like that again. I don't think it's a stretch to think, you know, that, that's why I fought back, and that's why I got stabbed, and then that's why I had problems with drinking drugs, and I don't like In general, I don't like to blame things on my childhood, you know, my parents were great and did a really great job and, um, in many ways I was lucky, but there were, there were these few bad things that happened and they definitely, um, and left a mark. And then, and then when I went to work in the city and I lost tons of money. Again, I didn't ask for help because I could have asked for help straight away. And, um, and I'd kind of fucked up, but I wouldn't have gotten in trouble for it because it was a genuine mistake and I'd lost tons of money, but instead I tried to fix it myself and that, that made the situation so much worse and, um, and I ended up in way more trouble and I ended up drinking again and taking drugs and, um, And I just think that I had slight issues from, from that day, you know, from being 10 years old.

Jason Blitman:

hmm. Mm hmm.

Chris Whitaker:

And it's definitely something that informed the character of Patch, you know, like he does this thing and, um, and then nothing is the same afterwards. And, you know, but we're, we're kind of comparing ourselves to fictional versions of ourselves, aren't we? Like, I imagine, as my brother did really well, um, he went to a brilliant university in London and, um, went on to, uh, to get a good job and. And, and there's no telling that I would have been the same,

Brett Benner:

Is he older or younger?

Chris Whitaker:

he's older, yeah, he's nearly four years older,

Brett Benner:

and so, um, and how did he interact with this man that

Chris Whitaker:

um, he didn't get any, um, any, I think it's because he

Brett Benner:

back.

Chris Whitaker:

um, he, he, he just was completely unaware of it You know, so it was just, it was just me that bore the brunt of it and, um, and it's a difficult, it's been a difficult thing to think about, but I did, I didn't really talk about the stabbing and, and losing all the money until I did We Begin at the End. And I needed to talk about my story because it was so closely linked to that. And I felt like the same is true of this. And it ended up being cathartic doing it, you know, it kind of, it takes. There's an element of shame, slightly, even though clearly it's not my fault and, but you just, you don't like that feeling, you know, I don't, I certainly don't like the feeling of being pitied or, or anything

Jason Blitman:

Well, you know, a part of what we were talking about in terms of life events changing you, you had the power to fight back when you were mugged. You have the power to write this fucking epic book, right? So there are these quote unquote good things that have come from this horrible, horrible thing that happened to you. I unfortunately tend to be, well, not unfortunately, but I'm a very glass half full kind of person.

Chris Whitaker:

me too.

Jason Blitman:

it can, get in the way when you're talking about like, really horrible things that happen. It's like, but you wrote this book. It's like, yes, but I have like severe childhood trauma.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, I'm the same. I do that as well. And I like being like that. I think that there's not, not enough people see the world that way.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Do you, not to harp on it, but do you have. The pebbles. Do you have something that you look back on where you're like, Oh, when I was when I was 10, I really loved this. But then after this point in my life, that sort of disappeared.

Chris Whitaker:

Um, most things actually, um, I felt like a different person before and after. Like I was very into football. I am again now, it took a while.

Jason Blitman:

Hmm.

Chris Whitaker:

I was more of a reader and then stopped after that for a big chunk of my childhood. It was little things like that, you know, I felt like a different person.

Jason Blitman:

Hmm.

Brett Benner:

if some of it, too, was just a built in, uh, protection for yourself, you know what I mean? You start to create a kind of chrysalis around yourself to protect yourself.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, the biggest problem was sleeping. I think because it happened when I was asleep, um, I haven't slept properly since then. And I've like had a lifetime of sleep problems. And I've been to sleep therapy and I've taken sleeping pills. I've tried, uh, just everything you can possibly think of. And I do this thing where I'm, um, just as I'm, I'm about to go to sleep, I'll startle awake. You know, again and again and again. Until I get so tired that I sleep, but then I wake up a few hours later. And, um, and it's, I think, my subconscious telling me that I'm not safe, you know. You know, I'm an adult and I know that there's no one coming into the room or anything like that. I think there's a part, like a really deep base layer, level somewhere, that is telling me, you know, be alert, be on guard, because a bird might happen.

Jason Blitman:

Which makes total sense when you've had a history of things, you

Chris Whitaker:

does, it does, but it's exhausting. But I do a lot of writing late at night, so I see that, the glass half full thing, you know,

Jason Blitman:

well, it's interesting. One of the questions in the book is, do you ever think something good can come out of something so bad? And, you know, I think you've already addressed that you, Chris, you do, you do think something good can come out of

Chris Whitaker:

I do, I, I think that the answer is definitely yes, but sometimes I think the price is too high.

Brett Benner:

Hmm.

Chris Whitaker:

think it's a simple answer, um, because would I change it? Would I want my kids to have the life that I've had? I definitely wouldn't, you know.

Brett Benner:

Between your first and your second novel, one of the things I thought of is, you have three kids, right? Having kids, has it changed your view of anything? Has your worldview changed? Has your

Chris Whitaker:

yeah, it has actually. Um, do you have kids, either of you?

Brett Benner:

I have two kids. I have a son who's 20 and a daughter who just turned 17. But I do remember when I was, when they were first born, it became very hard for me to watch something that was violent or overtly violent or anything that it, it, it touched me differently. And certainly I started to view, the world differently because I view the world as someplace to exist beyond my own existence, if that makes sense,

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah. It's kind of terrifying, isn't it? all of a sudden your world becomes too big. and that's definitely how I feel. I um, always try to be the person that I needed when I was a kid. I try and think back to when I was 10. Who did I need in my life? How did I need them to behave? Um, um, what did I need from them? And I try and be that person to my kids. But, it's hard, isn't it? Because life gets in the way. I work constantly and constantly have a fear that, You know, something bad might happen. But, um, I try and prep them for it, because, because I know that they'll, they'll grow up near where I grew up, you know, and they'll end up going out in London, and London's a big city, and it's like, you know, bad things happen all the time, and hopefully they'll be clued up enough to know that if someone asks for a phone or something, if they've got a knife, you just give it. I think it's slight, slightly different now. Maybe. I dunno, it wasn't like, you know, when I was a kid, it wasn't like people didn't get stabbed all the time like they do now. Like in London, it's just a constant thing. It was slightly rarer. So when he did pull out a knife, I didn't think he'd use it. You know, I thought, I thought this is over a cell phone, you know, no one's gonna. You know, they'll stab you for that.

Jason Blitman:

So you said something about being there for your children, being the person that you needed, a huge part of this book is, friendship and endless friendship and, and friends who are family. did you, do you have a patch or a saint? Are you a patch or a saint to someone?

Chris Whitaker:

Um, sadly not, actually. I have very few friends. I have loads of people that I can hang out with. But, you know, people that truly you can count on. I don't know if I keep them at arm's length. I'm quite a difficult person to be friends with. Because, um Flakey, probably. You know, I rarely turn up to things when I'm so still and um,

Jason Blitman:

Well, you get to log on to this zoom on time.

Chris Whitaker:

yeah, I, no, because it's work, you know, work I take is my priority and it takes, it takes, priority over, over everything else.

Jason Blitman:

you should just think about hanging out with friends as a work event,

Chris Whitaker:

I should do, I, I have tons of author friends in the UK,

Jason Blitman:

but not Holly Grimazio,

Chris Whitaker:

no, sadly, but I'm gonna make that my, my mission.

Jason Blitman:

she's good people.

Brett Benner:

He's reaching out right after this.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, straight away.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, well we need to get you a patch or a

Chris Whitaker:

one. yeah, have you got patches and soaps?

Jason Blitman:

I do. Yeah, my friend Amy, shout out to Amy. Hi, Amy. we were, we're best friends from high school and we have sort of been through all of the through thick and thin. I'm definitely more of Patch than Saint and she has, there was a time where, and maybe still today, where she's the better friend, which is a really interesting thing to, um, Realize as the, as the not as good a friend

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah Well, my friend, my friend Tom tells me that in every friendship there is a giver and a taker and he

Brett Benner:

I think that's in every, I feel that's relationships across the board. Like, I feel that's right. Even in romantic relationships, I think that exists a lot of times.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, I think you're right.

Brett Benner:

There's one member of the relationship that's more of the extrovert and one member that's more of the introvert. As I say it, like this, I don't, Chris, I don't know how old you are, but I always used to be like, well, this person's the Julie McCoy of the relationship, which is a reference to the love boat. Julie McCoy was the cruise director. There's like, Jason would absolutely be the Julie McCoy. He would be the cruise director in his relationship.

Jason Blitman:

Being a cruise director has been on my short list of jobs that I would like to do one

Chris Whitaker:

I think you'd be a really good group director. I would go on that group.

Jason Blitman:

Yes. That's all I'm asking for.

Brett Benner:

to get the gaze reading cruise ship. But yeah, no, I think, I think that there is that, you know, but it also brings up the whole idea of soulmates too, of like, is there that one person? Is there that one person that you think exists for everyone? And some, can someone have more than one soulmate?

Chris Whitaker:

I think they can.

Jason Blitman:

Also, soulmate can mean so many different things.

Brett Benner:

It doesn't mean romantic. I think that I think the first connotation people as is, oh, it's romantic. And I don't think that necessarily like, because I have I like, I love my husband, and he is probably the person who's I'm closest to and knows me best. And yet still, there's other people like my business partner is like my sister, and I've been with her for so long. That she's one of my soulmate. So there and how they change over the years too. And that's, what's fascinating about patch and Saint is watching their trajectories over the years and the way they'll keep circling back to each other, despite where their lives take them and what the threads are that holds them together, you know?

Chris Whitaker:

There's something beautiful about friendship. Don't you like a platonic friendship, you know that because, you know, if you're dating someone or something, there is a physical attraction. There's, there's other things at play, but you know, choosing a friend and keeping them in your life, you know, there's something really special about that. And, and like you said, you know, you grow apart and come back together. And it's, it's the kind of glue that I'm really interested in, you know, what, what keeps this person in your life. If you're not, if you don't, if you don't find them physically attractive, if you don't want to sleep with them, if you don't want to marry them, if you, if there's none of that, you know, why? Why do, what do you get from them and what do you give to them in return? And Patch and Saint are really sweet in that respect, you know, that there's a, there's a level of unrequited love, certainly from Saint towards Patch. But, it's definitely more than that. Because, you know, she would, you know, even if she couldn't be with him, she would choose to have him in her life. And she does do that, you know, throughout the book.

Jason Blitman:

a great quote about marriage, when it comes to marriage, love is merely a visitor over a lifetime, respect and kindness. They are the true foundations. I say great quote. I don't mean like a great quote in the general canon. I mean, from your book,

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

And, and I think like, yeah, the idea of love sort of comes and can come and go, but it's about respect and kindness and that's a, that's great in terms of foundation, whether it's for marriage or for these, you know, platonic love stories, uh, as

Chris Whitaker:

yeah, I think some people would be horrified by that, you know, like, like a true romantic because it comes that the quote comes from Norma in the book who is saying to grandmother. She is quite cynical and quite tough. And, and I'm not sure it's the best advice. to give to Zayn. I think, I think that,

Jason Blitman:

No, you're right. It's not the best advice for the moment, but I, but I also, but I do think it's true.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, I do as well.

Brett Benner:

because you think, saints are romantic.

Chris Whitaker:

Zayn is definitely a romantic, I think

Brett Benner:

I think so too. I was just, yeah, absolutely. I think Patch is much more practical and

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

probably flaky to use your term.

Jason Blitman:

in the moment, the the, the, subtext is, it's okay to settle.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, exactly.

Jason Blitman:

Right?

Chris Whitaker:

is exactly what she means. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

But I think like in a bigger way, that doesn't have to mean that.

Chris Whitaker:

No, I think she means, you know, bank on someone stable, don't roll the dice on, on the all or nothing love

Brett Benner:

I think I had this conversation with my daughter last night,

Jason Blitman:

Well, she's also a child.

Brett Benner:

No, but she brought up this thing about like, she's like, what if I'm that person who never has someone like that? I'm, you know, always alone. And I was like, first of all, you're 17. I said, you know, there are so many people you're going to discover. There are so many people you're going to find. And it's so interesting with this book, because I was thinking about it. It does force you a little bit to think about, you know, your own relationships and where they've gone and looking back and how they've grown and even those relationships when you were children and young people like Jason, you were talking about Amy, these relationships we forge when we're young that have such importance to them because you're also going through critical stages of your life, not just of things happening, but just maturation and becoming who you are. And so some of those things have such a greater impact. I think, that resonate with you so, so much longer into your life and make you who you are.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, did you read, um, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow?

Brett Benner:

Yeah. Oh my God. Oh

Chris Whitaker:

loved it. And that is the perfect example of friendship, you know, that endures.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Chris Whitaker:

Loved it.

Jason Blitman:

it's interesting that you bring up that book. This is gonna unpack so many things. Are you a musical theater fan?

Chris Whitaker:

I, I'm becoming more so, yes.

Jason Blitman:

Okay. There's a musical called Merrily We Roll Along

Chris Whitaker:

Okay.

Jason Blitman:

by Stephen Sondheim. And I had the pleasure of talking to Gabrielle Zevin, about Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow. And we talk a lot about the book in relation to the musical, Merrily We Roll Along. It's the story of three friends and sort of the downfall there are roller coasters to every relationship and to every journey. And I think you see so much of that in All the Colors of the Dark and, what it takes to sort of, Go back on the upswing again, which I think, you know, is is an important reminder as we go on our

Chris Whitaker:

so. Are you Hamilton fans?

Jason Blitman:

your Hamilton fans.

Chris Whitaker:

Are you, are you Hamilton fans? yeah, Loved it.

Jason Blitman:

Well, now that brings me to, are you a Grease fan?

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I was shocked. First of all, shocked to see Grease mentioned in this book, but I read two books back to back this and then The Gunkle Abroad by Stephen Rowley. And Grease is mentioned in that book as well. And I was like, how is Grease talked about in these two back to back books?

Chris Whitaker:

Well, I loved it when I was a kid. I remember I had it on VHS and I remember wearing the tape out, watching it over because I loved it so much. And then I saw Hamilton because, um, Tommy Kail, who is director, Yeah, he was adapting We Begin at the End for Disney, so he sent me tickets to Hamilton and, um, because I hadn't seen it and then I thought it was the best thing, you know, just,

Jason Blitman:

cool.

Chris Whitaker:

dazzling. And then I got to meet him, the cast and everything after, it was like the best day ever. My 40th birthday around there. So I did, I did it for like my 40th and took my kids and they um, yeah, they were just like, wow. They hadn't seen anything like, like a kind of, I hate like a grownup, you know, um, play like that.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Oh, sure. Um,

Chris Whitaker:

it really blew them away because they'd only really seen kids things before, which are also incredible, but I think it, it landed on a different level for them. I

Jason Blitman:

I'm a little bit stuck on you wearing out the Grease VHS because I'm like imagining a young Chris Whitaker with like slicked back hair and

Brett Benner:

Well, uh, well, uh, well,

Jason Blitman:

and like dancing around.

Chris Whitaker:

Danny Zuko was my god.

Jason Blitman:

Yes.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, they were just so cool. You know, I really wanted to get together, really

Brett Benner:

Well, that it's so funny that you say cool, cause I just have to say and interject, and I said this to Jason too, this was with both of your books. Your characters are cool and, and, and sometimes I feel like they're the kind of people I, like I love spending time with them, but I'd love to get to know them, but I know that I would never be friends with them because they're. Because they are so cool. They're quick witted, the way they speak. They're very definitive. They're just no bullshit. All of them.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, I don't think they'd hang out with me either. We're in the same boat.

Jason Blitman:

Total non sequitur, but I have to ask, why do you hate library books?

Chris Whitaker:

I love library books. I worked in my library. Well, I can't say I was a librarian, you're not allowed to say that. But I was a library assistant.

Jason Blitman:

I asked because the way you talk about library books in this book, someone says, so other people have touched these, maybe even read them on the toilet. And then you go ahead and take them home. It's like, Oh, Chris has feelings about library books.

Chris Whitaker:

From working in the library, sometimes we'd have to clean the books because they come back in such a state, you have to spray them and wipe them down with anti bac. And it was gross. You know, some of the, yeah, yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Okay. PSA to our listeners. Think about the person that has to receive the bug coming back.

Chris Whitaker:

you some library stories that would blow your mind, like the things that people do in libraries. It's just shocking, really shocking. There was, um, a kid, maybe 17, 18, kept going into the toilet throughout the day, again and again, and, um, then one of us went in to check, and, um, he had been, um, shaving his pubes, and they were just everywhere, over the sink, and the, like, yeah, so why? Why in the library? Why that day? why did it

Jason Blitman:

all day?

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, but why did. he keep going in? I don't know if he didn't want to be in there for too long or, I don't, I really don't get, but yeah, that

Jason Blitman:

Huh.

Brett Benner:

Wow. That's the last thing I was expecting to hear.

Chris Whitaker:

exactly. Yeah, this is like in a fairly smallish Hertfordshire town, which is really quaint and just outside London.

Jason Blitman:

right. And like literally everyone knew who he was. Like, I'm probably right.

Chris Whitaker:

He just

Brett Benner:

library pew boy. Right.

Chris Whitaker:

I used to think, oh, please don't go to the toilet. Yeah. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

little face is on the, on the, door.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

please report him immediately.

Jason Blitman:

and it's funny when you see like signs in places, like, please don't do X, Y, and Z. You're like, why are they saying don't do this? You're

Chris Whitaker:

I don't know, because someone's done it. But where was he going after the library? You know, why did he feel the need to, why couldn't he do it?

Brett Benner:

Exactly.

Jason Blitman:

maybe your next book is like, is his story.

Chris Whitaker:

my publishers would love that. I promise. If I deliver that one.

Brett Benner:

All my, all the pubes of the library.

Jason Blitman:

Oh Jesus. okay. One other pop culture question that I am, I have to talk to you about before we go into the, you know, again, more sad things about the book. Sopranos what's with the rewatch all the time.

Chris Whitaker:

I just don't think TV will ever get better. Ever. I just, I love it so much.

Brett Benner:

You've never seen Sopranos?

Chris Whitaker:

Get obsessed with it because I think it walks the line really well between, you know, so if We have an issue when it comes to all the Colors of the Dark and where to shelve it, what to categorize it as, because, you know, it's partly love story, partly crime, partly a mystery. There's a lot going on, um, like there is in people's life in general, you know, nothing fits neatly. But the Sopranos managed to, Tony Soprano's like effectively like a monster, but you kind of love him. And it's just so well done. You don't really know how they're doing that, but it's just brilliantly written, and the way they do it, and it's quite funny. And, um, and it's something like, in all the Colours of the Dark, some of the strands are quite heavy. But there's always, there'll be a character like Sammy in it, who's an art dealer, who gets the best lines, you know, to make people laugh. And, um, and when I'm writing, it's really important, because It feels a bit like drowning sometimes when you're writing something heavy. And if you have someone that is funny or is living a different life to the main characters, it's like coming up for air. So writing Sammy is like a joy when you're doing it. I'm giving Patch some of his funny lines and, and it's really important. And I think, I think readers need it as well. You know, when you're reading something,

Jason Blitman:

Well, and you've, you've had the experience of living through tragedy and you know that it's not a hundred percent tragic a hundred percent of the time.

Chris Whitaker:

it definitely isn't. I mean, life isn't linear, is it? It never is. Have you seen, um, have you seen The Black Phone?

Jason Blitman:

No.

Chris Whitaker:

Oh, it's so, God, it's so good. It's so,

Brett Benner:

right?

Chris Whitaker:

no, it's um,

Brett Benner:

mean, they're not Kevin Bacon. It's Ethan Hawke. He has the

Chris Whitaker:

yeah, it's um, Joe Hill wrote it, Stephen King's son, You need to watch it, it's so good, like, it's just perfect, it's the perfect horror film, and um, it's kind of got loads of heart to it, and it's really sad, and,

Jason Blitman:

interesting. Yeah. I'm not a huge horror person, but the fact that it said horror slash mystery, when I just Googled it and the things that you're saying, I'm like, all right, maybe it's worth giving it a

Chris Whitaker:

yeah, it definitely is, it definitely, it's also really scary as well, so

Jason Blitman:

all right. Well, yeah. Good to know. okay. All the colors of the dark. You talk about doing something meaningful versus meaning everything you do. Yeah. What does that mean to you?

Chris Whitaker:

interestingly, there's someone that's read the book in the U. S. has, has made a painting from it. And that is the quote that they painted onto the, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it's because I think Stain gets slightly sidetracked by, by wanting to, to do something big and meaningful. And, you know, with her life. And I think, so it's Chief Nix, who is the policeman in it, who, who tells her to just mean everything that she does. And I think that, I think that by doing that, you know, the big thing, the big and great things just happen. You know, if you're passionate about something, even if it's something small, something really good can come from it. And um, and it's noble and it shouldn't, you know, you shouldn't always be striving for, for the unattainable, which Saint believes that she's not making a difference or having a real impact. She gets caught up in that, I think. I think it's because she feels like she's failed Patch in a way, you know, Saint is hunting for the man that took Patch and she cannot find him. And she feels like she, she's not doing anything worthwhile enough.

Jason Blitman:

It's so interesting that you take this to Saint, because when I, yes, the line in the book was delivered, but seeing it in my notes by itself, my mind goes to creating art.

Brett Benner:

Hmm.

Jason Blitman:

it, right, so like meaning something that you do, um, and you also, in the book, say art is feeling nothing more. And right. So the idea of like meaning what you do in terms of creation, what's your relationship to art?

Chris Whitaker:

not as good as I would like it to be. Like, I'm an admirer, but you know, when you just wish you knew, you knew way more about it. And I love to go to galleries and um, and I get a bit obsessive about certain paintings and I look at paintings when I'm writing. Um, but I, I couldn't tell you how to paint, you know, like this, this, you go into it in depth in the book, you know, um, Patch does. And that for me is like six months of research to write a paragraph.

Jason Blitman:

No, but I, but I think there are plenty of people that will go into a museum or a gallery, look at a painting and not even have a feeling or have an emotional response to it. So for you to say you're an admirer, you can go and

Chris Whitaker:

me.

Jason Blitman:

something, you know, that's a different thing.

Brett Benner:

Especially when you're in Italy and it's your 10th one.

Chris Whitaker:

yeah,

Brett Benner:

How many more Madonnas with child can I look at?

Chris Whitaker:

it's interesting what gets you, you know, you could just, it's something isn't it that you can't articulate, you can look at something and just feel something. And I do that with book covers sometimes with the jackets, you know, so it was really hard to get it right for this book, because how do you get it right, you know, it's a really difficult book because you can go in a ton of different directions with it.

Jason Blitman:

I've talked to a book cover designer before too, and she basically says part of the job is making sure that it, it sits right with the other books on the shelf next to it. And, you know, unfortunately, all the colors of the dark can sit on a lot of shelves, but I think it's probably the, the cover design is probably best designed for the, for the book. the most probable reader shelf.

Chris Whitaker:

yeah, I think you're right.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Chris Whitaker:

right.

Jason Blitman:

Saint asks, is sin a real thing? Are sins sins if they don't have any consequences, do you think?

Chris Whitaker:

that's a really good question. I don't like the notion of it. I don't like, um, I don't like judgment in general. and, but I do like to go to church, you know, but I'm not religious. It's a funny one because I get that feeling when I go into church. Like my daughter goes to, to a play group at the church on Sunday, like once a month. and there's nothing religious about it. It's just some kids coming together. And, um, I don't And I always get like a calm feeling in the church, but, um, I don't like the notion of original sin, you know, like we're all born sinners and we kind of have to apologize and life is hard enough, isn't it? Sometimes I feel like that. Are you religious, either of you?

Jason Blitman:

Not

Brett Benner:

No.

Jason Blitman:

over here.

Chris Whitaker:

No.

Brett Benner:

No, I was raised very religious, uh, the dilemma was always the budding awareness of my homosexuality coupled with, it wasn't even the church's dogma as much as it was the people in the church who I felt like were the most hypocritical. I came to understand that there's a very big difference between religion and spirituality

Chris Whitaker:

okay.

Brett Benner:

And believing in something, you know, some kind of divine, something larger, maybe out there, but it's not necessarily, you know, this dude with white robes and long

Chris Whitaker:

It's fascinating, isn't it? Because I always think, like, if an alien crash landed on Earth, and they found billions of people looking to the sky for answers and things like this, I think it comes from this fear that we're, you know, it's all a bit meaningless.

Brett Benner:

That's, I

Chris Whitaker:

like, why are we here? It's over very quickly. There's nothing beyond it. It's kind of scary.

Jason Blitman:

Well, and so to that point, what does it mean to you to have faith?

Chris Whitaker:

Um, nothing religious.

Jason Blitman:

no, right? No, but that's what I mean. Like, what does it mean? That's what that's. What does it mean? Right? Because like, there's faith, having faith in something, or a, you know, deep belief that something will happen, right? That doesn't necessarily, that doesn't mean something divine,

Chris Whitaker:

No, it doesn't. No, you're right? Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

Having faith in a person, having faith in your marriage, in a friend, having faith that you're going to finish your book on time. You know, it's, it's like a weird thing to think about in relation to religion, because it's not religious, but there is a. of greater

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah. Mm-Hmm.

Jason Blitman:

thing,

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah. But is it just, is it, is it, it is definitely a thing within us, isn't it? It's like a gut feeling. It's like a or, and it's a leap of faith, you know? It's like that that term, you know, it's, yeah.'cause it's, um, it's a gamble, isn't it? It's a bit like rolling a dice of coin. You know? You're, you're choosing it, you're choosing to put your faith in something or someone and, and

Jason Blitman:

hmm.

Chris Whitaker:

that they won't let you down.

Jason Blitman:

Um, why are we inherently afraid to let things go?

Chris Whitaker:

In what context?

Jason Blitman:

It's sort of in every context, emotionally, you know, holding on to your childhood trauma.

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

It's impossible to let go holding on to your, as you said earlier, the fear of things happening to your children, right? Holding on to that thing that someone said to you that wasn't Goodreads review, right? Like, It's, it's impossible to let things go.

Chris Whitaker:

we're made of those things, you know, we're made of our fears and our hopes and anxieties and things like that is slightly, certainly some of the time it's to do with a loss of control. You know, I find it hard to let the book go when I'm finished and I find it hard to let people read it because it's no longer mine and I lose my ability to control it and change it. And, um, with this book, this has been the only time that I've been properly nervous about a book coming out. And that's because. Yeah, because I know that I can't, certainly at this point in my life, I know that I can't do any better. I couldn't have written a better book. And, like, normally I change every word. Like, we begin at the end, I didn't want it to go, I wanted to keep it, I wanted to change it. This one, this is the best I've got, so if people don't like it, you know, they're

Brett Benner:

But you also, and you also feel it's coupled with expectations have changed because of the success of the last book and suddenly people's, you know, your publishers, everyone, even, you know, Even your audience is, you know, an expectation of

Jason Blitman:

I know. I will say when I got the galley in the mail, I literally hugged it.

Chris Whitaker:

That's a nice thing. Me too.

Jason Blitman:

Well, that makes a little bit more sense for you, but I literally emailed your publicist and I was like, so I just have to tell you, I got the package and I literally gave it a hug when I opened it. It's also hefty. So it like sort of feels like it hugs back. Yeah.

Chris Whitaker:

It does, yeah. It really does,

Brett Benner:

yeah. it's also, you know, I can only speak to the bookstagram community because I'm not in the book talk thing. It's, I'm too old, but you have so much love in that community of so many readers who love the book. love that first book, are so excited about this. And, and certainly, you know, I can speak pretty certainly to say they're going to embrace this so wholeheartedly and these characters, because they are so good. So that in alone, you should feel good about because you really are, you're beloved

Jason Blitman:

And for clarity's sake, when Brett says first book, we begin at the end, but

Brett Benner:

you had more. Yes, yes, yes, there are, there absolutely are. But I

Chris Whitaker:

Yeah, but, no, I know what you mean. It felt like a debut. We begin at the end. I actually started writing it before the two books that were published before that one. Yeah, so

Jason Blitman:

how interesting.

Chris Whitaker:

the first thing I'd ever written. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

I don't, we're not giving anything away. We are spoiler free here at Games Reading, but I just, just to say, you know, when you do get to the end of this book and you sort of realize, Oh, wow. Yeah. Not sort of. When you realize what this book really is about, it is a punch to the gut. And I think when everyone, when everyone reads it, uh, it is, it is so much more than a, uh, you know, disappearing kid novel. And the way that you created this world is just surprising and epic and exciting. And so congratulations. I'm also obsessed that we have now an outlaw and a pirate.

Chris Whitaker:

Yes. We do. We do. We need to get them together.

Jason Blitman:

Ooh, I'm gonna write fan fiction about the pirate and the outlaw in our last two minutes with you, you are a glass half full guy. Something that comes up a lot in the book is just the concept of hope. Not dissimilar from faith, right? Hope is, I think, a cousin of faith. but hope is described as expectation. And if hope is expectation, does that make it dangerous to have hope?

Chris Whitaker:

I think we generally hope for positive things, don't we? So we're expecting them. I mean, yeah, it's the hope that kills you, isn't it? In the book, certainly. You know, because Patch meets a lot of people a lot of parents with missing children. And I think if, if the person's never found, you know, if a body isn't discovered, if something terrible like that doesn't happen, then you have to live with that hope, don't you? And, um, I don't know if the expectation ever goes away. Um, yeah, like I the Colours of the Dark is a big success. But I genuinely don't expect

Brett Benner:

So do we I think we're expecting it.

Jason Blitman:

Chris. This has been so lovely,

Chris Whitaker:

Oh, it's so easy to talk to you two. It was so much fun, you know, it's just like hanging out with friends. See, I need friends. Here

Brett Benner:

See, we can be your new friends. Anytime you want to come. Yes. Anytime you want to come back.

Jason Blitman:

Everyone's going to get their copy of all the colors of the dark. They're going to hold it up and they're going to say, you're the one that I want.

Brett Benner:

Ooh, ooh, ooh.

Jason Blitman:

Chris Whitaker, thank you so much for

Brett Benner:

Thank you, Chris.

Jason Blitman:

we hope you all check out All the Colors of the Dark. You could find the book in our, bookshop. org page. The link to that is in our show notes. And we will see you later this week with, uh, our final episode of Pride Month. See you then.

Brett Benner:

Stay cool.

Jason Blitman:

Stay cool.