Author – Paul Hallam

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Old Dog Books

01. How did you get started in the world of words?

I started my own fanzine ‘Sense of Style’ in 1983. It was sposed to be the professional word for the mod scene. It was all layed out to look like a mag rather than a fanzine. I think we spent too much time on the look and not enough on the content.

In 2011 I set up countdown books a publishing company with Eddie Piller and Cass Pennant. A year later myself and Garry Bushell began publishing Streetsounds magazine – now onto issue 13.

Old Dog Books is my latest imprint specialising in pulp fiction.

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02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?

As a publisher I’ve never had one of my own published til now, with this photographic book of 80s mods. That came about in a weird way. Channel 4 contacted me to talk bout the mod scene back in my day. I showed the director Ewan Spencer my photos and he asked to borrow them. A week later he came back and said he wanted to publish a glossy art book using them. BUY HERE!

03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?

I wrote short stories about my youth for various books. I think my favourite pieces were in the book by Pete McKenna and Ian Snowball – Once Upon a Tribe. Since then I’ve written for quite a few books mainly about growing up a mod.

04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?

I don’t often see the word serious and Hallam in same sentence.

05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?

There are no typical days.

06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?

All of them. Everybody has a story. I think it should be compulsary for every person in this country to be interviewed in their 50s and their
memories preserved.

07. What was it like to be an 80s involved in Modernism, what were your pointers and outlook?

For me it was amazing. It took me from being an average kid in suburbia and put me behind dj decks all over the UK and a large part of Europe. It gave me the confidence I exude today. It also gave me a big chunk of my close friends who are still here with me 30 plus years on.

08. What was that 80s period in London like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?

It was dangerous. the world hated mod for some reason. Every trip into a big town could be threatening. I got into more fights as a young mod than I ever have done at Millwall (usually on the loosing side). It was quite common to park my scooter outside my first job in Feltham and come back to find it kicked over.

09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?

By the time I got involved 1980-81 the press had tired of mod. Occasionally they would write about something like the Untouchables band or do a bad story if somebody from eastenders had confessed to being a mod 20 years earlier – I think the Sun ran a story where Anita Dobsons head was stuck on a photo of Eddie Pillers parka in the mid 80s. Other than that they left us alone.

10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?

Music for me went in this order. Tommy Steele, Beatles, Solo Beatles, songs that the Beatles recorded by others leading on to…. the originals. So I would hear tracks from Please Please Me album. and then go check out Arthur Alexander, The Cookies, Isley Brothers. Which I guess lead me to mod indirectly.

Half A Sixpence is the best film ever. Quadrophenia. Loved it in 1981. Hated it in 1985. Finally understood it in 2012. Richard Barnes Mods book shaped my life. Why else would I have ever started drinking coffee?

11. What other books do you wish you had written?

I wish I had written all the books on Old Dog. I don’t have the attention span to write a whole book tho I do have an idea…

12. How has the internet changed what you do?

Makes things easier and yet harder. If I had started Countdown/Streetsounds or Old Dog Books back in the 90s I’d probably be selling 10 times more than we are now. But the other side of that is, we would have to be relying on shops and distribution etc. None of this mail order online stuff back then.

13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

Do it with passion but for fun. Not many authors sell as many books as
JK Rowling.

14. Please tell us about your exciting new venture Old Dog Books?

There was an article in Streetsounds about 2 years ago on 70s Pulp books. Richard Allen skinhead books etc. Craig Brackenridge met up with me January 2013 and showed me a short story he had written called Pyschobilly. I read it in an afternoon. I loved it. I asked Matteo to write me a short fiction story based on growing up Mod in suburbia last September. I then forgot bout it. 8 months later he messaged me and said ‘’ve nearly finished the book!’ I read the first draft. Loved it and thought why can’t we do this for all music genres?

So Craig got out Psychobilly. Rewrote it. Added some more chapters and that became book number 2. Steve Pipers story is even odder. He turned up at my 50th birthday with his draft novel – all printed out and bound nicely and said read this. I did and bang that’s book number 3 sorted!

15. What has been the re-action so far?

Terrific. We thought lets print 1000 copies of each book. Sell online and in a few shops but we now have a sales/distribution company working for us so the books will be in shops all over the country in the new year. Id like to produce 6 a year – 3 in late spring 3 for Christmas. Long plan is to get some or all them made into short TV plays/Films.

ph_oddsand sods


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