BRIT GRIT, Byker Books, Hull, Interviews, Nick Quantrill, Novella, short sharp interviews, True Brit Grit

PDB: Can you pitch your latest publication, “Bang Bang You’re Dead”, in 25 words or less?

NQ: It’s about the decisions a young man makes when he’s released from prison. Some are easier made when you have a gun in your pocket…

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

NQ: I’m not a big TV watcher and never have been. That said, I’ve enjoyed Jimmy McGovern’s “The Accused” and I’m hoping the new series of “The Thick Of It” will be brilliant.

In respect of film, I went to the cinema for the first time in ages to see the new Batman film. It was ok – the plot and characterisation wasn’t all it could have been, but it looked fantastic on the big screen.

The last great book I read was “Weirdo” by Cathi Unsworth. It had the lot for me – plot, character, pace, grit – just brilliant. I’m currently reading “A Dark Place To Die” by Ed Chatterton, a fine slice of Brit Grit split between Liverpool and Australia.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

NQ: For me it is. I still get a lot of pleasure from the act of reading. As a writer, I don’t think you ever switch off completely when you’re reading – I’m always looking to work out what the writer has done that’s so appealing (or not), but sometimes I read something so good it completely takes me outside of myself and leaves me wondering how I’ll ever measure up. But that’s the challenge, surely?

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

NQ: I’ve had a little dabble with writing for the screen and it was enjoyable, even if I was very much the bumbling fool. I don’t think it’s something I would actively seek to do at the moment, but if an opportunity presented itself, I’d look at it seriously. I see myself as a novelist, and that’s the focus.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

NQ: Hopefully, just as much as it needs. With “Bang Bang You’re Dead I didn’t really need to do any. It’s set in the part of Hull where I grew up, so it was well framed in my mind. I don’t think I did much more than have a slow drive around the area, just to make sure I remembered certain things as clearly as I thought I did. I had to take some liberties with the geography to make the story work as I wanted, but it was definitely the easiest thing I’ve written in terms of research.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

NQ: I genuinely don’t know. It’s great to be in touch with other writers for networking and keeping up to date with news. It’s also great to be able let people know what you’re doing, but I certainly don’t want to annoy. I’d be mortified if it was said I was doing too much on the self-promotion front. It’s difficult to make an impact, but it’s very easy to get it wrong.

PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?

 NQ: It’s really just about finishing up the third Joe Geraghty novel, “The Crooked Beat”. After that, I’m not so sure. It’ll be on with a novel, and I’m pretty sure what it’s going to be and I have the synopsis partly nailed down, but it’s nice to feel there’s nothing definite at this moment in time. I could write another novella, I could change my mind on the next novel…we’ll see…

“Bang Bang You’re Dead” is available 17th September as part of Byker Books’ Kindle-exclusive novella series, “Best of British”.


Andy Rivers, Byker Books, short sharp interviews
 After Billy Reeves had survived a poverty ridden and violent childhood on a council estate in Newcastle he thought he had it all; a loving family, money and respect but a face from the past with a point to prove and muscles to flex is out to bring  his world crashing down on him.’ Maxwell’s Silver Hammer by ANDY RIVERS
PDB:Is ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ part of a series of books named after crap Beatles songs?
Ha ha – no mate, it just fitted the stuff I had in my head at the time. Mind you given this week’s budget maybe I should have called it ‘Taxman’
PDB: Your Facebook page lists two of your interests as heavy drinking and theatre. Have you ever combined both activities?
Not as a rule – mainly because I want to know what’s going on in the play I’ve paid for. Went to see a corker last night incidentally ‘Apples’ adapted from the book by Richard Milward and acted by a cast of younguns. Top bit of theatre – a sort of Trainspotting meets Skins!
PDB: How much of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer is autobiographical?
It’s not autobiographical as such (in that I’ve never killed anyone…yet!) but a lot of incidents and scenes in the book did happen to either me or people I know – one example being the re-arranging of letters on the cinema board every weekend… heh heh
PDB: Which soap operas do you watch?
Other than the one involving the England ‘team’ (i use that word very loosely) over the last few weeks none. I did once go drinking at Limerick dog track with Bradley out of Eastenders though!
PDB: How did you get mixed up with Byker Books?
Pure bad luck! 🙂
Nah – I used to read (and try to get published in) ‘Bullet’ which went under and whilst casting about for something similar (I swear a lot and most publishers – particularly the established short story ones – aren’t keen!) I discovered Byker Books so sent them some stuff for the ‘Radgepacket’ series, mentioned I was also from Byker originally (nepotism isn’t a dirty word kids honest!) and that I’d written a couple of books. they asked to take a look and bingo, here we are two books later and me a multi-millionaire…..or not.
PDB: Jimmy Nail, MC Hammer or The Turning Of The Screw?
Ain’t no doubt it would have to be Jimmy Nail – I am a ‘Big River(s)’ after all man….
Bio: Andy Rivers has been a Butlins barman, pretend chippie on a Spanish construction site, coach holiday rep, mobile sandwich salesman and outdoor traffic cone washer to name but a few of his eclectic ‘career’ choices.
Originally from the East End of Newcastle he now lives in Oxfordshire where, as well as following Newcastle United around the country, he passes the time by indulging in his passion for ‘Professional Geordie-ism’ and lager.
‘Maxwell’s…’ is his first novel but he is also the author of ‘I’m Rivelino’ , also published by Byker Books, a hilarious account of the thirty odd years of hurt he has suffered at the hands of the Magpies.

With the royalties from this book he plans on buying a Ferrari and having a proper mid-life crisis


A much better interview with Andy is HERE at Radgepacket Online

Guest Blogger: Ian Ayris – If Shakespeare Worked at Tesco . . .

BRIT GRIT, brit grit alley, Byker Books, GUEST BLOGS, Ian Ayris
If Shakespeare Worked at Tesco . . . by Ian Ayris.
I have spent the whole of my working life in low paid manual work, ranging from delivering washing machines to working in a record shop, a door factory, a gin factory, and currently spend every weekend cleaning toilets and bathing grown men for a living. 
Now, when I decided to try my hand at writing, I can’t say these employment choices didn’t provide me with a wealth of material, because they did.  In abundance.  The characters, the scrapes, the scams, even the despair and the drudgery.  All of it, ripe for the picking.  
But by the time I decided I wanted to write, I also had three young children.  And I had become a house-husband.  My life had become one of school runs and nappies.  Time ceased to exist in any meaningful form, serving merely as a constant reminder to how far behind it I was. 
In preparation for my career as an aspiring writer, between cooking dinners and sorting the kids out for school and picking them up and listening in stereo as they berated me for forgetting their lunch boxes or their trip money or signing their absence note,  I read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.  Four hours reading and four hours writing, that’s what our Stephen recommends.  Every day.  Without fail.
Every day, I thought.  Blimey.
I started off well.  Staying up late into the night, getting up at silly o’ clock in the morning.  Consuming gallons of coffee just to keep the creative juices flowing and my brain from shutting down.  I’d sometimes get a couple of hours in.  I was doing all right.
But as time went by, and my inadequacies as a house-husband began to reveal themselves in all their shimmering glory, something had to go.  My four hour goal had been reduced to twenty minutes in the morning whilst Peppa Pig looked after the little’un.  Twenty minutes.  Twenty minutes?  How was my writing career ever going to take off in twenty bloody minutes?  I managed to knock out a few short stories, but no more.  And I began to think ‘How does anyone write anything given this sort of life?’ 
[Scene: Tesco.  Frozen Foods]
Enter Williams Shakespeare pushing a cage of fish fingers and Assorted Mixed Veg.]
Shakespeare   : There is a tide in the affairs of men.
                        Which, taken at the flood, leads on to  –
Old Granny     : Excuse me, sonny, can you tell me where the Fig Rolls are?
Shakespeare   : Aisle twenty-four, next to the Bourbons. 
Old Granny shuffles off to be replaced by Mr Section Manager.
Shakespeare   : Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted –
Mr S.M.           : William, the fish fingers. You’re mixing them up with the frozen cod.              Just keep an eye on what you’re doing, son, eh?  It’s not hard.
Shakespeare  : Yes, sir.  Sorry, sir.
Mr Section Manager strides off, indignant, shaking his head.  And young William is left to sort out his frozen fish based error.
So I’m down to twenty minutes Peppa Pig time a day, and I’ve got this idea for a book.  Three years later, and it’s done.  Pretty much.  I ended up writing most of it in my head, then using my Pepper Pig time to hammer them quick as I could onto the computer keyboard, lest they disappear into nothingness.  I’d work out whole sections of dialogue by speaking it aloud pushing the trolley round the supermarket or taking the little’un round the park.  I’m not saying this modus operandi wotsit thing didn’t get me plenty of stares and funny looks, because it did.  But by then, I didn’t care.  All I cared about was getting this book done, and if that meant garnering a certain ‘reputation’ amongst the locals, so be it. 
Over time, I had four short stories published.  In proper books and everything.  But I was floundering in that mid-book swamp that claims so many.  My twenty minutes of Peppa Pig was now spent, more often than not, laying on the settee with the little’un, eyes half closed, exhausted. 
Fear of failure?  Fear of success?  Not enough coffee?  Who can tell.  Who cares.  Bottom line, the book had come to a standstill. 
Then, one day I bumped into a friend of mine I hadn’t seen in ages.  She asked me how I was, what I was doing with myself nowadays.  I told her I’d had a few short stories published and was working on a book.  She asked what it was about.  I had a few loose pages of the manuscript in my bag, and showed them to her.  I watched her eyes as she read, watched the colour come to her cheeks and drain out again.  I knew what I had written was doing something to her.  That’s when I knew I had to finish the book, regardless of the unconscious fears I held or the programming schedule on Nickelodeon. 
[Scene: Tesco.  Frozen Foods]
Enter William Shakespeare, emptying the last of the Assorted Mixed Veg. into the freezer.
Shakespeare :  Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we –
Floor Manager, on loud speaker :  Mr Shakespeare.  Spillage in Aisle Twenty-One.                        Tomato sauce and mayonnaise.  Thank you.
Shakespeare, quietly, to himself, wandering over to the aforementioned aisle :                            On such a full sea are we now afloat,
                        And we must take the current when it serves,
                        Or lose our ventures.
See, if William Shakespeare had worked at Tesco, he would still have written all those amazing plays, all those beautiful sonnets.  Because when the fire burns that bright, when it burns so much it hurts, you just do it.  No excuses, no whining, no nothing.  You find a way, you use up every spare second, and you just bloody do it.  Because you know deep down, right deep down, getting it out, all these stories, all these voices, all these words, is the only chance you’ve got to make sense of yourself.
BIO: Ian Ayris has had several short stories published, all of which can be found in the various ‘Radgepackets‘ published by Byker Books. He is a devoted husband, father, and support of the Mighty Dagenham & Redbridge, although his wife might dispute the first, and possibly the second.

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