Roger Marriott was born on a council estate in West London in 1967, and grew up in the 70’s and 80’s with a whole heap of bad music around me! In 1979 I discovered sixties soul which became the main soundtrack of my youth. For a big chunk of my career I strove to become a decent graphic designer. Later I had the chance to run some quite sizable marketing agencies, which I very much enjoyed. Now, I’m a London Taxi driver, which gives me great material for my main passion which is writing and enough head space to do it.
01. How did you get started in the world of words?
One day I asked my English teacher if I could use swearing in an essay – she said that if it was relevant that I could. At fourteen I made sure that I made it relevant just to get it in without a detention. She taught me that writing didn’t need to be stuffy to be considered good, which was inspirational.
02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?
Well, my first one was in 1994 – and that was a struggle for many reasons. Over the last twenty years it has got harder for authors, there is no doubt about that. Most publishers generally won’t read work that comes directly from an author; it seems that everyone needs an agent now.
03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?
My first novel, Waterstones – Tottenham Court Road in 1994. It felt surreal.
04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?
I felt the need to tell a story, and believed that I could do it. I love the challenge of sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper, knowing that within a certain space of time, you as a human being can create something from words that no one has ever seen.
05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?
I’m up pretty early and getting the coffee down me. Then I’ll scope out what I need to achieve that day. Usually I start with the good old pen and paper, that’s how I work creatively – nowhere near a laptop for this stage. Sometimes I’ll fire up my old Lambretta and go for a spin to a local coffee shop and do some work there. Then once I’m happy with the sound of it creatively, I’ll start crafting it on the laptop, chipping away or adding bits to make it flow nicely.
06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?
There are so many, what a question! I guess a chunk of them are in my novel East of Acton which is semi-autobiographical. But I think the resounding one was that at fourteen I loved graphic design, like a lot of young people at the time I was into The Jam. I’d done some very rudimentary illustrations and cover designs and decided to phone Polydor records up and tell them about my work. I ended up going to their offices and meeting their creative director which had a lasting impression on me: If you want something and think you can add something, then do it, you have nothing to lose.
07. What was it like to be young in the 80s involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?
It was quite dangerous, but brilliant at the same time. There were so many youth cults out there that seemed to exist all at once – very exciting. I was seriously into the Mod thing which very much promoted a positive stance. It was all about progression.
08. What was that 80s period in London like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?
Busy and very positive. Outside of youth culture my work was my passion and at that time progression in the work place for working class kids wasn’t so much of an issue. Social mobility was possible. With a lot of hard work and some talent you could get somewhere.
09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?
Apart from big names like The Jam, the media more or less ignored the Mod thing – a flash in the pan 79’ revival and then silence. We were invisible. I think the media always promote their agenda no matter what era. That’s why having the internet now is such a bonus – people can see and connect with what they are into, it can’t be hidden.
10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?
Wow, how much space have I got? Films such as Taxi Driver, Meantime, Nil by Mouth, The Long Good Friday and obviously Quadrophinia to name but a few. Books, Brighton Rock, 1984, On the Road, To Kill a Mockingbird, City of Spades, Iron in the Soul… just too may to list!
11. What other books do you wish you had written?
The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, it was his first novel and is amazing and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, it just moves at such a pace, you feel like you are in Monterey Bay with him.
12. How has the internet changed what you do?
Great for research and connecting with likeminded people, a real bonus.
13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?
Write from the heart and just keep going. Write because you enjoy it, not because you want to become a millionaire, because it’s odds on that you won’t.
14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?
I’m writing the beginning of two new novels at the moment because I can’t decide between their concepts. I’ll see how they stack up after a chapter or two and then shelve one for later.
East of Acton has just been published and is available at: www.olddogbooks.net and www.amazon.co.uk
15. What has been the re-action so far to your book?
Well, it’s just about to be published, so we will have to see.