We are very excited to be publishing Jem Roberts’ Fab Fools, an exciting comedy book about The Beatles! The book will be released on the 29/04/2021 but you can pre-order your copy now on our website!
Jem Roberts is an accomplished author with excellent research skills and a flare for writing comedy books. He previous work has had positive responses from several different successful comedians including Stephen Fry.
We decided to ask Jem a few questions so we can get to know a little more about his writing process and about the inspiration behind Fab Fools!
Q&A WITH JEM ROBERTS
Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Ludlow in 1978, and studied English, Film & TV in Aberystwyth. I started out in magazines, while writing children’s stories and performing comedy, and all sorts of obsessions came together when Barry Cryer suggested to me that I write the official I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue guide, back at the very height of Humphrey Lyttelton’s powers. The Clue Bible led to my greatest comedy obsession, with The True History of the Black Adder, and then I was commissioned to become the official biographer of Douglas Adams, with The Frood. More authorised japes came with the official Fry & Laurie story Soupy Twists in 2018, and the year after, my first slab of straight-up storytelling was released, with Tales of Britain – the first British folktale anthology of the 21st century.
Beside from The Beatles, what was your inspiration behind Fab Fools? What made you decide to write it?
Throughout most of the above, telling the story of Beatles comedy was a constant resolve for me. As a Beatles worshipper, my bookshelves were heaving with Beatle books, and I swore off buying any more. But then, immersed in Blackadder lore as I was at the time, the sudden realisation that nobody had ever explored The Beatles story from a comedic POV – and the double realisation that that included The Rutles, and Neil Innes, one of my greatest heroes who had never received enough recognition – compelled me to begin researching, and trying to find a home for the book. We’re talking about one of the greatest edifices in British cultural history, seen from an entirely new angle. But it still took over a decade, and a lot of ignorant publisher rebuffs. And now, thanks to Candy Jar, positively the last Beatles story worth telling is now a reality.
What was the writing process like? How did it compare to the other books you’ve written?
I learned very early on that it’s impossible to write a non-fiction book unless you’re sincerely obsessed with the subject matter, because it becomes your life, for years at a time. And so, Fab Fools drew on a whole lifetime of passionate research, years of notes, which meant that it flowed very naturally. The main difference from previous books was that it was the first time I was writing entirely off my own back, with no advance, powered by an insistence that the story needed to be told, and hopefully a whole year of poverty would be repaid one day.
You must have done a lot of research for Fab Fools, what was your favourite thing you discovered about The Beatles?
Learning about The Beatles is a never-ending life-long process, at least while Mark Lewisohn is out there doing his thing. Fab Fools is packed with interesting nuggets of comedy history, like George’s Dad being instrumental in getting Ken Dodd’s career kicked off, or George, Ringo, Neil and Eric Idle all partying together, discussing the possibility of teaming up as a Beatles/Rutles hybrid, The Bootles.
What’s your favourite chapter in the book and why (without giving too much away!)?
All my books have favoured gigantic chapters, with many sub-headings along the way, but one of the most intense sections arrives around halfway through, in the ‘Summer of Love’, and the twin tragedies of Joe Orton and Brian Epstein. Researching Up Against It, Orton’s rejected Beatles screenplay, at Leicester University was a real highpoint, nobody had ever examined his first draft and written about it, I was chuffed to even be able to pass my research onto Lewisohn.
What do you think makes Fab Fools stand out amongst other books about The Beatles?
There’s a real plague in the world of Beatle books – desperate, gimmicky books clearly made for a quick buck, authors who write more about themselves and their Beatle experiences than the actual Fab Four themselves, and nasty, gossipy cash-ins aplenty. Fab Fools finds a pretty much unique area of virgin snow in Beatleology, and it’s a story which must be told. Not least as it has, sadly, had to become a tribute to the wonderful Neil Innes as well as partly his story.
What’s your favourite song by The Beatles?
Not possible – but in terms of this book, the best solo Beatle song would have to be John Lennon’s Serve Yourself – ideally the Anthology version. It’s pure snarling nastiness, and I love it.
What has been your favourite thing about writing this book?
Looking back, it will always be Neil’s support, getting him to back me up in this decade-long battle. Bitter-bittersweet though the story turned out to be.
If you could ask The Beatles any question you want, what would it be?
“WHY SUCH FERVOUR?
Do you want to know more about Jem and his book? Check out his Fab Fools Twitter page @FabFools or check out his blog at jemroberts.com!
To pre-order Fab Fools follow this link: http://www.candy-jar.co.uk/books/fabfools.html