Considering De Beauvoir resident and writer David Whitehouse is faced with the possibility of transatlantic success with his debut novel, 'Bed', he seems strangely calm.
"I spend almost all of my time thinking about stuff that isn't important and panicking about it. If I thought about something like that, my brain would leak from my ears," he says.
After winning the 'To Hell With Literature' prize for unpublished authors last year - David has seen his book, which he began in 2007, snapped up by major publishers for distribution in the UK, USA and Canada.
He started writing Bed after going it alone as a freelance journalist. He explains: "I had just quit my job at a magazine. My phone never rang."
Taking 14 months to write, Bed is based around the character Mal - 'the fattest man in the world'.
"It suddenly became clear I was sitting in bed every day doing nothing, and I began wondering what would happen if I never got out of bed ever again. So I started to write the book," says David.
Citing further inspiration, he adds: "Around that time there was a real boom in documentaries about people with extreme physical conditions, particularly people who are huge."
However, he is quick to add that Bed isn't necessarily about a 100 stone man. He says: "It's the life story of a family, and about what family, the people you love most, can do to you over a lifetime. Also, it's about growing up. I've long thought being an adult isn't all its cracked up to be.
"The parts of Bed that are about Mal being the fattest man in the world marry the two - what it is to be gigantic, and why we're obsessed with it. Some people get so big they grow into their chair or bed. The marriage of the unimaginable and the possible."
When David talks softly about the extreme subject matter his book tackles, it becomes very apparent that he has a gift for gently amusing, if occasionally shocking storytelling.
He says: "I remember being little and loving getting mail. Now I get lots of mail and it's all bills. Bed is about that disillusionment with conformity that everyone has at some point, and a man who is brave enough to do something about it - albeit dropping out, going to bed and never getting out again. Ultimately though, it's a love story with the world's biggest man at its centre."
Moving to London from Nuneaton 11 years ago to start a degree in journalism, David made Hackney his permanent home a few years back. "When I came to London, I remember being amazed that I could buy a paper after 6pm. I think I settled in Hackney because you can buy anything you want, at any time you like.
"My favourite place is the canal from The Rosemary Branch down to Victoria Park. When it's busy, walking down the towpath is like being in a stressful computer game, dodging cyclists, runners and mad people."
Working throughout his early twenties for publications like Maxim, you can see why David appears unfazed as he gears up for his impending book launch. On one bizarre assignment, he remembers: "Henry Hill, the former gangster whose biography inspired the film 'Goodfellas', got me in a headlock and told me he was going to kill me. It sounds worse than it was."
So what's his advice for those labouring over a first novel? "All you can do is write what you like and send it to people who might be able to help. But always write what you like. If others like it, it's probably a happy coincidence that you can't fake."
- 1981 Born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire
- 2002 Graduated with a BA (Hons) Journalism from London College of Printing
- 2002 Got first job at the now defunct JACK magazine
- 2006 Went freelance, writing for Guardian, Esquire, Time Out, and started writing Bed
- 2008 Wrote short film 'The Archivist', which opened the BBC Electric Proms
- 2011 Bed published
Page updated: 24 Jun 2011