Friday, 22 February 2013

A Fine Line Between Stupid and Clever

Waiting for Gonzo hits the shelves on March 7, but Edge author Dave Cousins wonders if his edgy credentials will be called into question …

I’m worried I could be in danger of being kicked out of (or over) the Edge! My new book jacket is yellow; it has bright red writing and a picture of a girl with a giant comedy moustache and glasses drawn on her face. You could be forgiven for thinking I’ve lost my edge.

But do you have to be dark, to be edgy?

In many ways, I felt more on the edge writing Waiting for Gonzo than I ever did during 15 Days Without a Head – a story with a much more obviously edgy subject.

From the outset, I wanted Gonzo to be funny, but the story was filled with characters battling their way through some very serious problems. Could I write with honesty and truth about these things and still make readers laugh?

I’ve always been drawn to stories that make me laugh and cry at the turn of a page. For me, humour in the face of adversity feels that little bit funnier, and the pain that comes after laughter, always takes your breath away. But as David St. Hubbins says in the film, This is Spinal Tap“It’s a fine line between stupid and uh … clever.” A joke at the wrong time can kill the tension or just come across as irritating; equally, while attempting to reveal heart and drama in a comic moment, it’s easy to stumble and land face first in stupid!

Then there was Oz – my thirteen year old narrator – one of those characters who transformed himself and the story as I typed. He had a tendency to be loud and cocky, but was always fun to be with – misguided and thoughtless rather than malicious – I loved him, but would anybody else? From the reviews I’ve had so far, I’m glad to say that readers appear to feel the same way about Oz as I did. Laura (aka Sister Spooky) summed it up perfectly when she wrote: “Oz is very believable and if I’m honest, a bit of an arse at times, but that just made me warm to him more.”

I’m hoping that Waiting for Gonzo ended up on the right side of that fine line, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. As for my edge credentials? Writing often feels like a leap of faith, but I can honestly say I’ve never teetered for quite so long on the brink – surely that must count for something?

Waiting for Gonzo by Dave Cousins is published in paperback by Oxford University Press on 7 March 2013.

For further information, including details of the original soundtrack to accompany the book, visit You can also find Dave on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Can't wait to read Waiting for Gonzo, Dave, and to meet Oz! Don't worry about your 'Edge' credentials - 15 Days Without a Head has established you as an edgy writer and I'm sure that Waiting for Gonzo will only confirm that!

  2. I think that playing with tone is a lot more edgy than just chucking in a load of controversial plot points (and a lot harder to pull off too). Very much looking forward to Gonzo, I'm sure it's another cracker!