Tell us a little about your current novel, what readers can expect from it..
My current novel, The Lyme Regis Murders, is both whodunnit and thriller. The sleepy coastal resort of Lyme Regis is the scene of the horrific murder of three innocent little girls. Formidable private investigator, Tammy Pierre, is contracted by the kiddies father, who believes the police and his wife, have him nailed as a suspect, to find the real killer. But Tammy, despite her beauty, has her own issues, with drink, drugs, indeterminate sexuality and racism. She is mixed, Trinidadian Catholic on her father’s side and French Jewish on her mother’s. Physically attacked by a knife wielding thug, abused and reviled, Tammy meets with nothing but opposition from all quarters, not least the local police with whom she is obliged to liaise. The ending is, as you would expect, unexpected.
Where did you grow up and what was family life like?
I grew up in a two room flat, with my younger brother, in Kilburn, North West London. Father was attempting to establish himself in the clothing business, while mother concentrated on having nervous breakdowns, which tended to interrupt Father’s manufacturing ambitions. Grandma, who lived next door, with her two sons,(neither of whom ever married), my uncles, Alf, an accredited artist and Ben a financial guru, who wouldn’t take the risks he advised others to. Gran, had escaped Riga in Poland with her various sisters, around the year 1900, attempting to flee the area’s increasing anti semitism, and finding themselves raped along the way, she, Granny, was imbued with a lifelong hatred of men. She married anyway, as was expected, her husband, my Grandpa, brought up on a farm in Russia, coming to this country around the same time to escape the Russo-Japanes war. He was fabulously handsome, taught himself to read English, despite the lack of a formal education and was as strong as an ox. Able to bend an old penny in two with his bare hands, he easily saw off attacks by racists at that time. But he couldn’t see off Granny, who wore him down until she destroyed him. I still remember her screaming at him in his hospital bed, that he wasn’t the one that should be in that bed, she should.
Academic or creative at school?
At school I was mainly bored, lazy and disinterested. Having left, and realised the time I had wasted, I took to studying for A levels in evening classes, eventually making it to London University, The London School of Economics at the age of twenty-three.
First job you really wanted to do?
I’m an insolvency practitioner. I show people financial failure it’s not the end of everything, and can in fact allow a fresh start, as long as people are honest. Many of the world’s most successful people were once personally bankrupt. For example, Walt Disney, Will Smith, Abraham Lincoln and H J Heinz, to name but a few of those who bounced back
Do you remember the moment you first wanted to write?
Thirty years ago I had an idea for a short story based on the relationship between an effectual little man and his pet cat, a possible reincarnation of his domineering dead wife, who he is unable to cope with. ‘Cat and Mouse,’ was born, and went down a storm at a writers’ group I joined on the encouragement of my wife.
Who are your real life heroes?
My wife and daughter, for too many reasons to go into. Also, Winston Churchill, Nurse Cavell, Florence Nightingale, King Henry 11 and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine.
Funniest or most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in?
I was co-hosting a party to celebrate the opening of e new record factory near Euston. It was an important event where we needed to impress the visitors, many of whom would be future customers. We all looked smart in our best clothes and were all of us on our best behaviour. Everything was going well, until I was introduced to one of the new clients and his mother, who’d accompanied him to the event. No problem there. Then horror of horrors. Upon being introduced to another guest I enquired whether the woman with him was his mother too. After a stunned silence I was advised by the discomfited guest that his companion was in fact his wife.
DIY expert or phone a friend?
A bit of each. I’m not helpless, but I know my limitations.
Sun worshipper or night owl?
Morning person. Although, in studying for professional exams I took to working until 3.00am each day/night.
A book that had you in tears.
Author, journalist, poet and raconteur, Clive James, in his memoirs tells of a rough-house individual who finally married and settled down, fathering a daughter upon whom he doted. One day, the child, skating on uncertain ice, fell through. The man, dived into the freezing waters in a vain attempt to find and rescue his little girl, but knowing he would fail, elected to die with her.
A book that made you laugh out loud.
Bill Bryson’s book, Notes from a Small Island. He describes the British talent? for discussing routes. Listening to some guys in a pub one evening, he heard something like,
You know that layby outside Warminster, the one with the grit box with the broken handle?” One of them will say. “You know, just past the turnoff for Little Puking, but before the B6029 mini-roundabout, by the dead sycamore.” At this point you realise you’re the only one not nodding vigorously.
“Well, about a quarter of a mile past there, not the first left turning, but the second one, there’s a lane between the two hedgerows – they’re mostly hawthorn but with a little hazel mixed in. Well, if you go past the reservoir, under the railway bridge, sharp left at The Buggered Ploughman where they do a decent pint of Old Toejam, round the back of the cement works to the Ram’s Dropping bypass, cutting out the crossing at Great Shagging…”
Hopefully, you get the picture.
One piece of life advice you give everyone
As Nike advise, ‘Just do it,’ as long as it doesn’t involve jumping off a cliff without a parachute. Oh, I don’t though.
Thank you so much!