Saturday, December 17, 2022

Q&A with Chris Clews



Chris Clews is the author of the new book Raised on the '80s: 30+ Unexpected Life Lessons from the Movies and Music That Defined Pop Culture's Most Excellent Decade. It's the third in his series about the culture of the 1980s. He lives in Deerfield Beach, Florida.


Q: What inspired you to write Raised on the ‘80s, and how does this new book fit in with your previous work on the culture of the 1980s?


A: The inspiration really came from wanting to expand my book series as I moved forward. My first two books focused more on workplace lessons we could learn from ‘80s pop culture so with this third book I decided to move towards life lessons that we can learn from ‘80s pop culture.


I also had some unfinished business with lessons from The Breakfast Club since I felt like I severely shortchanged it in my first book and didn't give it near enough of the attention it deserves. There are so many great lessons in that movie and with this new book I was able to share a lesson from each character including Principal Vernon and Carl the Janitor.


I’m also a huge fan of Prince the musician and wanted to share a wonderful story and the lessons we can learn from it that involved a handwritten note from him to Suzanne Vega.


All three books share some commonalities, including a lot of self-deprecating humor from stories of my youth interwoven into each chapter to help “set the scene” for that particular set of lessons. And all three provide lessons that come from the most unexpected of places, people and characters. 


Q: How would you define ‘80s culture, and how would you contrast it with that of today?


A: The way that I define ‘80s pop culture is that it was like someone threw a glitter bomb against the wall and it exploded into all of these wonderful and vibrant colors. The colors being a metaphor for all of the totally awesome pop culture that came out of the ‘80s due to the focus on experimentation and innovation that was happening at the time across all genres.


One of the reasons that I think ‘80s pop culture still resonates today - and also one of the big differences between the ‘80s and the decades that followed - is that the pop culture wasn’t (or at least didn’t feel) manufactured. Around the mid-‘90s, it felt like much of the mainstream pop culture was being created in a metaphorical lab - tested over and over again before being released to the public.


All of that testing costs money, of course, so upon its release we were hammered over the head with it in the hopes that we would eventually like it, allowing the creators to make their investment back and then some.


In the ‘80s, it felt like the creators of pop culture would throw things out there and ask us if we liked it. If we said yes, they made more of it and if we said no, they went in a different direction--hence all of the one-hit wonders that we know and love today.  


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the book, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I have the best research job in the world - watching ‘80s movies and listening to ‘80s music.


Beyond having the incredibly difficult task (insert sarcasm) of rewatching these iconic movies, each chapter does focus on a different movie (or in one case a musician) so I do quite a bit of research on the pop culture that was happening around the release of the movie and then weave that information into the chapter as a way to immerse the reader into that particular time period of the ‘80s. Wow - that was quite the run-on sentence! 


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: First and foremost my hope is that they have a lot of fun, are thoroughly entertained, and feel like they just read something super unique. I also hope that they come away with some valuable life lessons from some very unexpected places.


I often that say that the best lessons for life and work come from the most unexpected of places and people, and ‘80s pop culture is certainly one of those unexpected places.


For those that grew up in the ‘80s, I hope that they have hundreds of nostalgic moments and feel transported back to their youth, and for those that came a little later, my hope is that they will have a better understanding of why ‘80s pop culture continues to resonate and will want to explore even more about pop culture's most excellent decade!


Honestly, I just hope that the readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: With the launch of the new book a few months ago, my focus has been twofold: (1) Marketing and media for the new book and (2) booking and preparing for keynote speaking engagements in 2023 across the US and in Canada as well. 


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I was raised in a family that were huge advocates of animal rescue. My grandmother and mom instilled the importance of it in both me and my sister. My grandmother was already advocating for animal rescue back in the 1940s and ‘50s, well before it had the attention that it does today.


Growing up, all of the animals in our family were rescues and I have a rescue pit mix named Bodhi (named after Patrick Swayze's character in the movie Point Break. Not an ‘80s movie but an amazing one nonetheless and Swayze was my favorite growing up so I wanted to honor him in some way). 


In my opinion, rescued is the best breed and I donate a portion of my book sales and speaking gigs to Wonder Paws Rescue in Ft. Lauderdale, which is the rescue that saved my Bodhi boy. 


Oh, and for the shameless plug section, you can find out more about me, my books, and how to hire me as a keynote speaker for your next event at 


All three of my books in the series, titled The Ultimate Series on Essential Work & Life Lessons from ‘80s Pop Culture, can be found on Amazon as well as most places where you can purchase books online. You can follow me on social media at: 


IG - @chrisclews80s

Twitter - @80spopculture

Facebook - chrisclews80s

LinkedIn - Chris Clews

YouTube - @chrisclews80s_author_speaker


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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