01. How did you get started in the world of words?
In the winter of 1995 I was laid off work on the Brighton station job 3 days before Xmas. Talk about a depressing time for me. Back at the flat I found my old Casino diaries and then the idea hit me to write Nightshift. Sold two of my best saxophones and bought a word processor. Stocked up the grub cupboard with beans and pot noodles and got down to writing the book. Finished the book in 3 weeks and started sending it out to publishers and agents. Over 40 no’s later, ST PUBLISHING gave me an offer to publish and Nightshift came out in 1996. Job done. Well received all round, the book quickly became a cult classic.
02. Has it been a struggle getting your first book published?
Nightshift wasn’t exactly a struggle. Once I’d decided to write the book it was just a matter of getting it done. The rejection was tough to take but one thing a writer has to do is shake off rejections because they are all part of the game.
03. Where did you see the first piece you had written in print, how did that feel?
Talk about a buzz when I saw the book actually in print. Yeah there’s nothing like the smell of fresh paper in the morning. Top buzz.
04. What was the main reasons that you started to write seriously?
I felt I had something to say about the 70’s northern soul scene that hadn’t been said before warts and all. The beauty of Nightshift is that it tells the whole truth and nothing but about England’s longest surviving dance culture that’s bigger than ever these days.
05. What’s a typical working day like when you are writing?
I do have a daily system which entails me getting up early, boiling up a pot of Lavazza and getting stuck into 2 to 3000 words a day depending on mood. I write everything in longhand and then when it feels good. I blitz the computer adding and subtracting where needed.
06. What were your teenage experiences that helped to shape your later mindset?
My teenage experiences shaped everything. The clobber, scooters, good mates, northern soul, drugs and soccer agro. A non – stop riotous roller coaster. Thanks also to my old man, former detective sergeant John McKenna who knew a thing or three about personal style and attention to detail which has rubbed off on me even to this day.
07. What was it like to be young and involved in Street Cultures, what were your pointers and outlook?
Hedonistic, exciting, dangerous, diverse, you name it and it was on the menu apart from anal sex of course. The sole reason for breathing was going against the social grain and it felt electric convincing me that it was all going to last forever. Oohhh err!
08. What was that period like for you as a young man outside of the Music world?
Unbeatable, unbelievable, unrepeatable, when we were young sharp hard and cool and the impossible was anything but. Great days and nights with me to the grave.
09. How did the Media distort what was going on with youth culture at that time?
The 70’s was a diverse mental decade. The buzz of football aggro was everywhere, massed Saturday battles on terraces and in town centres as opposed to the more underground streamlined casual firms of the 80’s and beyond. Same attitude with a different uniform. The media slagged Wigan off big time describing it as a drug fuelled den of iniquity frequented by vampire like young kids off their heads on drugs. And then Granada television set the scene straight with the best documentary on Wigan ever made thanks to the drive of the late great Ray Gosling RIP. Brilliant documentary that still holds its own today.
10. What music, films and books helped you to the pathway of all things alternative?
Jazz, soul, Bowie, Ferry, reggae, ska, the king of 70’s pulp fiction Richard Allen AKA James Moffatt, Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, Anthony Burgess, Christopher Isherwood Hunter S Thompson, Clockwork Orange, Lord Of The Flies, Quadrophenia, If, Alfie, The Ipcress File, Bond, The Servant, The Night Porter, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, Godfather, GOD the list could go on forever.
11. What other books do you wish you had written?
I don’t but to be honest. Football Factory comes close. The best insight into the murky violent world of the soccer casuals penned by a man who to me is England’s finest. John King, top bloke, top writer and a vegetarian as well. Maybe I should think about knocking meat on the head.
12. How has the internet changed what you do?
Ease of information with a worldwide audience at the touch of a button. A brilliant useful tool for research and getting the word out there in seconds. Couldn’t do without now.
13. Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?
Yeah. Forget it. Take comfort in your day job, live well, be happy, get married, buy a house and a car, have kids and grow fat, bald, toothless slowly and die happy convinced you did your best for those you love and care for. However if you do decide to march down one of the loneliest paths imaginable then write about something you know that will appeal to your readership and I’m not talking about Knitting Jumpers From Pubic Hair and be prepared for rejection after rejection until – and this is only a slim chance – you finally get your work accepted after which the really hard graft begins.
14. What projects are you planning for the future and please feel free to plug your latest book?
Currently working on two novels – UP NORTH and AUTUMN LEAVES that will complete the Frank Wilson trilogy. Also my long overdue baby JERUSALEM which is a dark violent wade through contemporary England’s slashed and torn social fabric seen through the eyes of the main character Johnny Hodges a lifelong skinhead who goes out in a blaze of glory for reasons that will become apparent. ‘ Police confirmed that they received a telephone call seconds before the triple suicide bomb attacks in London Leeds and Birmingham from one of the three men who carried out the bombings dressed in burkas claiming that they were members of the ultra – right group Patriots Of The Cross and the attacks were reprisals for the beheading of three young men in a secret London location by Jihadis with more attacks on the way.