5 minutes with Richard Osman: “You have to write what you read”

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Having just released his latest book, The Bullet That Missed, author of the Thursday Murder Club series, Richard Osman takes us behind the scenes of life as a writer and TV personality

The third book in the Thursday Murder Club series, The Bullet That Missed has just been released. We interviewed author Richard Osman about the behind the scenes of his busy life. From hosting game shows to writing bestsellers, it’s no secret that his schedule is almost always jam-packed. Always the optimist however, he manages it all with a smile on his face. Here, he shares his writing secrets, his fondest memories from Pointless and his plans for the future.

How does it feel to have created such a fantastic group of characters who have won peoples hearts?

There must be an element of luck involved with the way they’ve caught on around the world. It’s been such a treat. And I’m sort of chuffed for the characters that people love them. Occasionally I say to Joyce, “you know, there’s people in China reading your diary Joyce”. 

Do you think you will always write crime and mystery?

You have to write what you read. My whole TV career, I’ve tried to make TV programmes that I would watch. Because then you’re not having to wonder what people would like. As soon as you start doing that you fail, I think. Because I’ve always read crime fiction those are the books that I want to write because those are the books that I would want to read. And if I keep writing books that I would enjoy reading, then, hopefully other people will enjoy reading them too. 

Speaking of TV, what was behind the scenes of Pointless like?

It was sort of like a little family, especially before the start of each day, when you’re in the makeup room for 45 minutes. My makeup artist has been with me for 12 years. Kids have grown old in that time. We would just sit and gossip, you know. We always had music on and were always gossiping about other jobs. I miss that a lot.

New episodes of House of Games are starting. What’s it like being the host?

Well, I love House of Games because the thing is, I don’t know any of the answers, so I can play along, which is really, really great. The thing I love most about it is that we have such freedom on that show. It’s just like a sort of weird dinner party. There’s no audience and you’re with the same people across the week. It’s very competitive and I’m constantly just throwing out these weird questions. But again, the fact that families love watching that together. To me, that’s the holy grail of all television. And so, I love making House of Games.

What guests would you love to have on the show?

Stephen Fry hasn’t been on yet. I’d love to have Stephen Fry on.


What does downtime look like for you?

That’s a good question. I wish I had some. Because of the books taking off in other countries, myself and my wife tend to spend quite a lot of time travelling. We’ve been to Germany recently and Italy and Spain. We’re just home from Portugal. We’re off to Australia next year. And we’re coming over to Ireland too. That sort of takes up quite a lot of free time. Fortunately, we both love travelling. So it’s quite a nice excuse to come and see  different cities. If there is proper downtime, we’re just hanging out watching TV and playing with Liesl, our cat.

What are you most looking forward to about spending more time writing?

I think spending more time with these characters. Just seeing how they solve the next mystery is always a surprise to me. I love being able to go out around the country and meet more readers too. The loveliest thing to me about writing these books is they do seem to spread joy – something that has been in slightly short supply over the last few years. And I think, that being in a position where you can bring happiness to people is an absolute privilege. So I guess 10 years of bringing joy to people would be a nice thing to look forward to as well as getting to know these characters a little better.