Can you tell us about yourself?
I’ll start with the book because it’s way more interesting than I am. THE BERESFORD is my first stand-alone book. It still fits into the ‘Literary Crime’ genre that I find myself in but it also straddles horror, which is something new for me.
The Beresford is a grand apartment building just outside the city, run by the elderly and somewhat eccentric Mrs May. There is a routine to everything at The Beresford for both the owner and all its residents. It’s safe and predictable. Until the bell rings. When somebody dies – as is so often the way at The Beresford – there are only sixty seconds until that bell rings to welcome a new resident and for the cycle to begin again. It is, at its heart, a crime novel with a horror twist but it examines humanity and ambition and the things that human being think they want and whether those things will make us content.
Oh, yes and me…I’m a writer. A father. A lover (not a fighter). A drinker. A thinker. I sing, and play a few instruments. I can run fast and jump high. I’m a vegan but I don’t preach about it, but I will get into it when people say stupid things to me. When I’m not doing books stuff, I run a fitness company with my partner, trying to work my body and my mind and keep some balance.
Are you working on something now?
I’ve recently sent my book, Psychopaths Anonymous, to my agent. I’m just waiting for notes to come back on that one. It revisits the character of Maeve Beauman, who has appeared in my last three books, but now she finally gets to tell her story. There’s a new man in her life and she it trying to stop the drinking – Alcoholic Anonymous. And the killing – Psychopaths Anonymous. But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including this new man.
And I am just starting a new book, which will be another stand-alone like The Beresford – though all of my books are linked in subtle ways. It’s a tale of five very different people, leading completely unconnected lives who come together in one incident. There’s a nurse, a sportsman, who can only see in black and white, a man who thinks he has died, a couple pretending to be angels, a man who thinks he is God, and The Daves Next Door. It’s probably my quirkiest book yet.
Which six books will you take to the Island?
These are not my six favourite books of all time – there’s no Hemingway, for a start – I have picked six that would serve me best in this island situation. 11.22.63 by Stephen King, for example, is one of the best things I’ve read. I loved it. But I don’t think I ever want to read it again.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – This book means so much to me. It was the book that made me want to write and I keep a copy of it beside me when I do. I would need it on the island. Like my comfort blanket. My dark, anarchic comfort blanket. It’s also short, so I could read it fairly quickly in one sitting. Maybe once a day.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The first book that ever made me cry. It’s beautiful and original and epic. I could disappear into that world again and again, which is weird because it’s Nazi Germany and booked are being burned all over the place.
The Great Gatsby. I know, I’m so predictable. A writer who likes Gatsby. Well, I bloody do. It’s wonderfully written and evocative of the time. I tend to be drawn to sparse prose and Gatsby is a tad verbose by comparison but it has an amazing opening and final line. And everything in between is perfect. That whole jazz age is epitomised by this book. It’s also my most read book and there are still lines in it that knock me on my arse.
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. I bought it yeeeeaaars ago. It’s been sitting on my shelf, staring at me. I’ve pulled it out a few times but never been in the exact mood I think I need to get into it properly. There’s no escape on the island, and I think it would be worth reading something I’d never read before.
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. In my younger and more vulnerable years, I devoured everything that fell into that ‘lad lit’ arena but Hornby was the one. I was starting to write a few things. I was getting that angry young man thing about me, too. It fit. I loved the film when it came out, the whole direct address idea is something that resonated with me. I’d like to read it again and see if it still holds up. I mean, I’m rocking the angry older man thing, now.
Fup by Jim Dodge. I did think about adding another book I haven’t read but has been sitting on shelf for decades but I have gone with one that I read a while back and deserves a re-read. It’s a quirky story about an old man and a duck. It’s weird but heartfelt and sad but life-affirming. And it’s all packed into something that is a nudge over a hundred pages. I think it would keep me positive on those long, lonely, wonderful days.
Is it me or does this island sound a bit like paradise?
What disc will you take to the Island?
This is evil. ONE TRACK? My mind automatically goes to Joni Mitchell because she is my favourite. The Hissing of Summer Lawns has some incredible tracks but I think I prefer it in its entirety as an album. Obviously, everyone thinks of Blue and I like the idea of a sad song to listen to on repeat to really amplify the suffering on the island. River is a great track, of course, but A Case Of You gets me every time. I could cry to myself all day, every day.
But, as I can only pick one track, I’ll go with my favourite, The Way You Look Tonight, sung by Billie Holiday. I love the piano, the voice, the lyrics but it is more that it’s a sound of the time. It always makes me think of New York for some reason – I think it was used in a Woody Allen film – and I think it could whisk me away to my favourite place, so that I could escape the emptiness of the island, for a while.
What luxury item will you take to the Island?
Hummus is always the first thing that comes to mind. But that is true of any question. And I believe the rules say that there will be some food, so I will assume my desert island is awash with chickpeas.
Would whisky coun’t as a luxury? If so, I would choose a bottle of 30-year-old Suntory Hibiki. I bought a bottle for a friend ten years ago for £500. Today, a bottle costs £5,000, so I’ll probably never taste it again.
But, I guess, if I have to go to something that is of no real use at all, I’d go with toe separators. You know? Those foam things that you put between your toes to spread them out when applying nail polish.
I don’t want them for that reason, I just find them really comforting when I’m tired and feeling claustrophobic, there’s a need to separate my toes.
What fictional character will you meet on the Island?
If I could pick from any medium, I’d have difficulty deciding between Dale Copper from Twin Peaks and Hank Moody from Californication, but, as it has to be from a book, I’d choose Henry Chinaski from Post Office/Factotum/Women. Chinaski is a thinly veiled version of the writer himself, Charles Bukowski. I figure we could spend a couple of hours bitching about the world and talking about writing. We could share my whisky (or the toe separators) and probably end our four hours in a fight, rolling around in the sand.