Sum up your book in ten words or less
Violence, nature, identity, gypsies, struggle. Life in a northern town.

Tell us about your career in writing?
Writing is all I have known, really. I’ve been very lucky. I started freelancing for music papers as teenage student and then took a staff job for two years, then ever since I have been working the writing hustle. I’ve also worked on a building site and done sales jobs, but they amounted to a total of four days’ work. The other sixteen years have been spent writing interviews, reviews, short stories, advertising copy, music documentary scripts, biographies and – my favourite – fiction.

Who has influenced your writing?
Ted Lewis, Black Flag, David Peace, Crass, Mikhail Bulgakov, Klaus Kinski, Daniel Defoe, Wu-Tang Clan, Gordon Burn, Cormac McCarthy, Keith Pattison, Francis Bacon, Jean Genet, Nick Drake, William Wordsworth, Cathi Unsworth, Harmony Korine, John Fante, Andrea Arnold, Can, John Rechy, Don McCullin, Lindsay Anderson, Richard Brautigan, Roger Deakin, Knut Hamsun, the British weather.

Tell us about Pig Iron?
It’s a novel about a young man from the traveller community who is released from a young offender institution and forced to return to the town in the north-east of England on whose outskirts he grew up. All he wants to do is leave, to escape the past and primarily the legacy of his father, a former bare-knuckle boxing champ, but he gets a job as an ice-cream man instead. Then things start to happen. Bad things. It is set on a housing estate, on fairgrounds, in woodlands, quarries, country lanes, the streets of the city. The novel explores themes of identity, the redemptive powers of nature, prejudice, masculinity, poverty in a post-industrial landscape.

What do you like about where you’re living now?
I live in Calderdale West Yorkshire. I like the people and the landscape: the desolate moors up top and the dank, dark corners down below. There are no big chain shops in the town nearby because the inhabitants won’t tolerate them. It is a place of independent spirit and free-thinking. One of the last.

What’s your occupation and what do you like about it?
I’m a writer and sometimes also a music journalist. I like the creative freedom. In the past I got to travel the world interviewing rock bands. Now I get to look out of the window and attempt to create new worlds.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I find fallen dead trees, hoist their trunks onto my shoulder, then carry them home and spend many hours sawing them up into burnable pieces.

Favourite bit of tech and why?
Sat-nav systems have stopped me aimlessly driving around many a town and city looking confused and vulnerable.

What’s the most interesting destination you’ve travelled to?
Las Vegas, Marrakech, Banjul, Geneva, Zagreb, Hollywood, Peckham.

What’s the last album you bought? Thoughts?
I bought Rant by The Futureheads primarily because there is no instrumentation on it, only a cappella harmonies. Also some of the songs on it are modern versions of old North East traditionals, which coincidentally relate to the story of Pig Iron. I like it.

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