Andy Jamieson

Sometime Geek Overlord, bi-monthly Dungeon Master, part-time care worker, reigning Husband of the Year, & full-time daddy. Also, proficient proverbial juggler.

Oct 112017
 

Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Chris Priestley

Published by Bloomsbury, PB, £6.99, OUT NOW

A new Chris Priestley book is an event to be celebrated, and his latest does not disappoint. More in line with his fabled Tales of Terror books than with his other release this year, Superpowerless, Curse of the Werewolf Boy is the first in the Maudlin Towers series, featuring the charming young students, Mildew and Sponge, and their adventures at the school for ‘the very best and brightest of boys’, set at an indeterminate period of the 19th Century / early 20th Century in northern England.

Whereas the Tales of Terror books struck a fine stylistic chord of impending horror, Curse of the Werewolf Boy dials down the horror (slightly) to make way for a playful wit, as the bumbling-yet-eloquent pair of school boys, Arthur Mildew (“of the Berkshire Mildews”) and Algernon Spongely-Partwork – aka Mildew and Sponge – stumble upon a series of peculiar happenings on the grounds of Maudlin Towers.

Mildew and Sponge spot what they believe is a Viking ghost meandering across the ha-ha (the ditch at the end of a playing field, to prevent sheep wandering onto the school grounds, countryside trivia fans). And this is by no means the strangest sight they will come across in the next 235 pages of brisk plotting; Curse of the Werewolf Boy is by turns engrossing and fiendishly clever. It isn’t ruining anything for you to mention that, yes, there is a werewolf boy somewhere in the plot, and how this creature fits into the cogs of the story works very well indeed.

And to sprinkle extra sugar on this already fine treat of a book is the fact that Mr Priestley himself illustrates it throughout, and his black and white depictions of the settings and characters are grim, atmospheric and quite brilliant (there is even a demented cameo from one ex-children’s laureate) – the visual highlight for me is the chapter heading illustrations throughout the book.

On the strength of this first book, Maudlin Towers will be a series of some notable quality. Curse of the Werewolf Boy is a fantastic book, and suitable for all mischievous minds, 7 years old and upwards, boy, girl, man or woman.

Review by Andrew Jamieson, Editor-in-Chief Geekzine UK

Andrew is the award-nominated author of steampunk fantasy novels, The Vengeance Path, and its sequel, Children of War, both available from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Oct 032017
 

Author Philip Reeve and illustrator Sarah McIntyre are the talented minds behind Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair, and Pug-a-Doodle-Do! (the latter an activity book). Both are out now, published by the childrens imprint of Oxford University Press. I had the pleasure of meeting this talented pair at this summer’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, where I was hosting their event for Jinks & O’Hare. It was fascinating spending some time with them, chatting to them about their work, and seeing them get ready for their event, and the meticulous preparation they put in was only matched by their incredible stage presence. Combining humour and invention with audience interaction, this was one of the best events I’ve been in the audience for, let alone hosted, and I will happily admit to laughing lots. Amongst their hectic post-summer schedule, Philip and Sarah made time for some of my questions.

Andy Jamieson, Geekzine Editor

 

Andy Jamieson: Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair is quite out of this world. What was the inspiration for the book? 

Philip Reeve: It started out as a story we did for the Phoenix comic – it was actually our first published story together! Sarah wrote it and I drew it, then Sarah coloured it. We wanted to do something spacey, and Sarah realised that when funfairs feature in children’s stories they’re almost always scary, spooky funfairs, or fronts for criminals or something. That’s adults find them quite threatening, alarming places, I think – but children don’t; children think they’re magical! So we wanted to create a funfair story where the funfair really is fun, and somewhere you’d like to go. We always thought it would be nice to expand it into a book, but we had other stories we wanted to tell first.

Sarah McIntyre: Yes, I used to love building funfairs out of Lego, but they never quite lived up to what I could imagine. It was great trying again as a grown-up, and I even took a trip to Disneyland Paris – tax deductible! – to get myself back into a funfair frame of mind. (My younger self would have been staggered by that being part of my job!!) A whole planet of funfair seemed even cooler than merely a park on a planet.

AJ: You’ve both worked together on quite a few books now. What is the secret to a successful artistic collaboration? 

PR: I think you have to be very open to the other person’s ideas, and prepared to compromise your own to fit their stuff in, because that way you end up generating new ideas which neither of you could have come up with alone. I’d written a lot of books on my own when I started working with Sarah, and I was keen to stop being Philip Reeve for a bit and be part of a duo. Of course, I wouldn’t be happy doing that if Sarah wasn’t a really good writer and illustrator as well as a good friend – I LOVE her drawings and the way her mind works, so it’s great to be able to join in with her ideas. The whole writing process for those books is a bit like a game, really, we just chuck strange ideas to and fro and laugh at our own jokes a lot. And, of course, I can still go off and write my own books if I want to but these days I tend to run the early drafts of those past Sarah, too.

SM: Same! Philip was a lot of help on my latest dinosaur picture book; we bashed out the idea for the story in a pub, which is why I’ve dedicated it to him. He’s so good at adding great little jokes, which I’m sure at least partly comes out of his training as a Horrible Histories illustrator.

AJ: Do you have any further plans to create more books together? A sequel to Jinks & O’Hare perhaps? 

PR: We’ve just published an activity book, Pug-A-Doodle-Do!, which is based on the characters from the four story books we’ve done together. It’s a mixture of drawing and comic-making activities and silly stuff we’ve written – Iris the Mermaid’s Beauty Tips, a ‘Which Reeve & McIntyre Character Are You?’ quiz, things like that. It made us laugh a LOT while we were coming up with it, so hopefully other people will find it funny, too. And if not, they can write/draw better jokes in all the blank bits.

SM: And we’re working on the next book! The story’s written and I’ve just started inking the pictures. It may or may not feature a fat flying pony…

AJ: Do you remember when you first met the other?

PR: I saw Sarah at the Carnegie Medal awards back in 2011(?). She came up and asked to take my photo, and I had no idea who she was, I thought she was a journalist from the Bookseller or something, but she was a nice smiley one, so I enjoyed meeting her! Then, later that year, I found myself sitting opposite her and her husband Stuart at a dinner at the Edinburgh Book Festival. We got talking that evening and we haven’t stopped since.

SM: Philip and I were talking in Edinburgh about drawing, and I was saying how I’d been posting a drawing every day on my blog, even if I didn’t like it, as a sort of discipline. Philip went away and started posting the most amazing landscape drawings from where he lives, in the middle of Dartmoor. I realised I didn’t have all that much skill at landscapes, so I started going to Greenwich Park, and every day we’d keep an eye out for each other’s work. It was great until winter set in, and neither of us wanted to be the first to give up, even though we were freezing our fingers off. Eventually Philip invited Stuart and me to visit his family out out Dartmoor and I was able to see these beautiful mossy walls and gnarled trees he’d been drawing, and do some drawing with him.

AJ: You both have an incredible stage presence at your live book events. How much planning and preparation goes into your events and book tours? 

PR: One of the things we’ve always agreed on is that authors who are doing events need to try and be a bit larger than life – you need to dress up if you’re going on stage, and if there are two of you you can take it a step further and do sketches and songs and things – we basically do a kind of very loose variety show based on each book. But Sarah lives in London and I live in Devon, so we don’t meet that often, and there isn’t much time to rehearse our events – we usually just talk through a kind of rough outline of what we’re going to do, and then make the rest up as we go along. It seems to work – Sarah is one of those people who people just like, so all I have to do is try to keep her from going off on wild tangents!

SM: I think most illustrators are naturally a bit shy, but somehow putting on a very big persona and a fancy big dress makes it easier. And being able to riff off Philip makes it feel much funnier, not like I’m some completely mad person. He’s still teaching me a lot about putting together stage shows.

And some questions just for Philip:

AJ: How is work progressing on the third instalment in the Railhead trilogy? Do you have a title yet?

PR: It’s just about finished, and it will be out in May 2018. It’s called Station Zero.

AJ: What writing plans do you have beyond the final Railhead book?

PR: None! Before, when I’ve finished a book, I’ve always known exactly what I’m going to do next, but I don’t really feel any desire to start another novel at the moment. But that’s quite a nice position to be in. I think I’m going to just concentrate on doing new stories with Sarah McIntyre, and I daresay another idea will come along eventually.

AJ: The film adaptation of Mortal Engines is due in cinemas December 2018. What can you reveal about the film version? Have you seen any footage?

PR: I can’t reveal much about it, except that I watched some of it being filmed and the actors and sets looked great! I saw a tiny little bit of cut-together footage, very rough, with none of the special effects in place, and it was already quite spine-tingling. I think it’s going to be amazing.

AJ: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

PR: Just read a lot, and write a lot – but if you want to be a writer you probably do those things anyway. I don’t really like writers’ tips, so maybe my advice would be ‘ignore all writing advice’ – if you’re honest with yourself you’ll know whether what you’ve written is any good or not. Oh, and learn to type, because you’ll be doing a lot of that.

AJ: Do you have a favourite book that you come back to?

PR: I often go back to books I enjoyed when I was growing up – Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels, The Lord of the Rings, Asterix – it’s partly nostalgia, but I see new things in them each time. As an adult I have less of an inclination to re-read things, but if I’m bored or out-of-sorts I often go back to Patrick O’Brian’s nautical novels about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin – they’re surprisingly funny, and I’m very fond of the characters, so it’s like looking in on old friends.

And also some questions just for Sarah:

AJ: Are you working on any new picture books, or other such projects?

SM: Yes, quite a few things! Years ago I wrote and drew a comic called Vern and Lettuce, about a sheep and a rabbit who live in a tower block in an animal-populated London, and recently I’ve been allowed to dive back into that world! It’ll be a picture book called The New Neighbours, and I think it touches on a lot of issues about rumours and immigration as well as just being a fun story about a motley collection of cute animals. That comes out in March with David Fickling, and I have another picture book coming out in May with Scholastic UK, a follow-up adventure to Dinosaur Police (final title still secret!).

AJ: You’ve had a number of collaborations with various writers over the years, as well as working on your own projects. What are the perks and challenges of these different creative processes?

SM: I love working with other people, particularly when it’s really a collaborative project between friends, where we get to throw around ideas together. One of my early picture book contracts was for Jampires with David O’Connell, and we both wrote the story and both drew the pictures. With the Reeve & McIntyre books, Philip does the writing, but we still throw around lots of ideas together, and he helps out with the pictures. Stage events with him in front of hundreds of children are SO much more fun than doing them alone!

But I also feel I need to write and illustrate my own picture books; a lot of people in the literary world, teachers and parents still don’t take illustration seriously as a profession and there’s a lot of pressure on illustrators to write our own books to build names for ourselves. We shouldn’t have to, illustration is a highly skilled career, but it’s why I set up the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign, so that illustrators could get proper name credit for what they do. Hopefully it’s one thing that can help give our best illustrators a better chance at being able to make a living at this job. (The reason I can speak out about it is because Philip, our publisher and our agents are so supportive of my career, but not all illustrators are so fortunate.) People can find out more at picturesmeanbusiness.com.

AJ: Out of all the books you’ve worked on which are you most fond of and why?

SM: I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Oliver and the Seawigs because it’s the first time Philip and I thought, Hey, we could make a book together! And I have a lot in common with Iris the mermaid, who features in it. Of my own books, it’s probably Vern and Lettuce, when I felt I really got into the swing of storytelling. Vern is very much like my husband, Stuart, so it was fun to see him play out various scenes in sheep form. I’m excited he’ll get to return in The New Neighbours.

AJ: Do you have a favourite illustrator (alive or dead)?

SM: Well, probably Philip, because it’s so much fun sitting at my desk drawing with him! We had such a laugh creating Pug-a-Doodle-Do!, and you’ll have fun trying to spot which bits I drew and which bits he drew. I also love work by Maurice Sendak, Satoshi Kitamura, Posy Simmonds, Kate Hindley, Jonathan Edwards, and Bill Watterson (who created the Calvin & Hobbes comic strips).

AJ: You have a very distinctive fashion style. What are your stylistic influences, and do you have a favourite outfit? 

SM: Why, thank you! I live in a neighbourhood with lots of shops that sell Ankara wax print fabric, that is very popular with Nigerians and Ghanaians here. I visit the fabric shops like I’d visit an art museum, and keep a library of fabric back at my studio. When I have a festival or new book coming up, often my fabulous Ghanaian tailor, Esther Marfo, will use one of the bolts of material to whip me up a new dress.

Favourite outfit? Probably the silliest one: the six-foot-tall Marie-Antoinette-style wig that my sculptor friend Eddie Smith and I made out of cling film for the Oliver and the Seawigs launch. It was so heavy – it almost made me fall off the ship where we had the book launch – but it was pretty jaw-dropping.

 

Many thanks to Philip and Sarah for their time, and to Hannah Penny at OUP Children’s for arranging the interview.

Jinks & O’Hare Funfair Repair and Pug-a-Doodle-Do! are out now, published by OUP Childrens. 

Follow Philip on twitter @philipreeve1 and Sarah @jabberworks, and Andy @a_jamieson1

Sep 292017
 

The Void is a low budget horror film that attracted some praise and attention with its ’proof-of-concept’ trailer last year, ahead of reaching full funding for actual production. It hit cinemas, streaming sites and home formats at the same time earlier this year, to some acclaim. It didn’t last long in the cinemas round my neck of the woods, so I’d been meaning to catch it on home format.

Thankfully, the film itself lives up to its hype, and certainly exceeds the promise of that great trailer last year. The two writer-directors, Steve Kostanski (also an extremely inventive visual effects wizard) and Jeremy Gillespie (also doubling up on titles and music) have squeezed every last penny out of their tiny budget, most notably in their impressive visual and special effects, and their imaginative production design and locations. It is no surprise to learn that Kostanski and Gillespie have a string of credits to their names; Gillespie is a veteran art director / graphic designer, from countless big productions, most recently the likes of IT, Suicide Squad, the excellent Hannibal tv series, and the next Guillermo del Toro film, The Shape of Water. Kostanski meanwhile is an experienced special makeup effects artist, who also worked on IT, Suicide Squad, and Hannibal, but also del Toro’s superlative Crimson Peak. These are men of considerable talent and experience.

The Void is at once an ode to the budget-savvy, narratively lean horror films produced in the 1970’s & 80’s by the likes of John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Stuart Gordon, Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi, amongst many others, but also to the horror literature of H.P Lovecraft and Clive Barker. The gloopy, gruesome visual effects are reminiscent of those cinematic horror maestros mentioned above, particularly Barker’s own Hellraiser, and Jackson’s early New Zealand-set films.

The plot is pure pulp, involving a sheriff investigating a local crime, leading to the nearby hospital, where the sheriff’s estranged wife, a nurse, is on shift. The hospital is soon after surrounded by blade-wielding, white robed cultists, determined to not let those within the building leave. Violence erupts in the hospital, leaving a small group of survivors, misfits and strangers both – some of whom are not what they seem – to try and survive against the odds. A simple plot, then, but mighty effective, with a suspenseful opening act that gets things moving quickly, ramping up the tension, leading to a siege in the hospital. The Void is high on action, and the largely unknown cast (aside from veteran Kenneth Welsh) are an enthusiastic ensemble and pull us through the shocks, gore and batshit weirdness with wide-eyed terror… and there are some genuinely nutso set-pieces and visuals here. (compared to Ridley Scott’s disappointingly insipid Alien: Covenant, out not long after, made for approximately eighty times The Void’s budget, Kostanski and Gillespie’s film is a marvel)

One of The Void’s sinister cultists.

The clue is in the title, and the sequences and shots of this mysterious other realm are stunning and beguiling, all accompanied by a moody, atmospheric synth soundtrack collaboration by Blitz//Berlin, Joseph Murray, Lodewijk Vos & writer-director Jeremy Gillespie. Bravely, perhaps, the film-makers do not opt for a neat resolution, instead aiming higher than such a bookend, beyond homage, resulting in a suitably haunting finale, that reminded me slightly of Carpenter’s excellent Prince of Darkness (for some, the last truly great Carpenter film). Whilst The Void is not quite that good, neither is it Ghosts of Mars

Kostanski and Gillespie are directors on the rise, of that there is no doubt, and their next project will no doubt possess a bigger budget than The Void – hopefully it will be just as good.

Special Features:

Quite a good selection of extras, with two interesting Making Ofs, one of the overall production, and one focusing on the creature work – both are fascinating and show just how much effort and budget wrangling went into The Void’s creation. The set photography is good, as is the Proof of Concept trailer. I didn’t listen to the director’s commentary – they give a good account of themselves in the two docs, but on the strength of their eloquence I suspect the commentary would be worth a listen.

Review by Andrew Jamieson, Editor-in-Chief Geekzine UK

Andrew is the award-nominated author of steampunk fantasy novels, The Vengeance Path, and its sequel, Children of War, both available from the Amazon Kindle Store.

 

Sep 142017
 

The Limehouse Golem (15) – OUT NOW

Dir: Juan Carlos Medina

Starring: Bill Nighy, Olivia Cooke, Douglas Booth

Run time: 109 mins approx.

In cinema and television history there have been countless interpretations of the Jack the Ripper killings but now The Limehouse Golem has put another Victorian serial killer, albeit a fictional one, in the spotlight. This makes for a refreshing change and allows the story to entertainingly subvert expectation, especially as the film peers through the murk of 19th century London with a somewhat feminist-tinted monocle.
The film, adapted by British screenwriting jewel Jane Goldman (Stardust, X-Men: First Class, Kingsman) from Peter Ackroyd’s novel, finds stoic detective John Kildare (Bill Nighy) on the trail of the eponymous murderer and met with a ludicrous suspect list comprising Karl Marx, George Gissing and cross-dressing music hall legend Dan Leno. It’s the latter, played with winning charisma by Douglas Booth, who proves most intriguing as through him we delve into the life of underdog street urchin-turned-stage star-turned abused wife, Lizzie ( Olivia Cooke, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl).
Lizzie is everything we don’t see in the Ripper stories (a female character with more than a corpse/prostitute role, for one) and Goldman has done a fantastic job in writing a woman who subverts the victim stereotype and whose intense determination and grit sees her succeed in a world where women were barely allowed to tread. The story begins with her apparently murdering her husband, John Cree, and immediately being carted off to prison. Here, she becomes Kildare’s focus as he gradually comes to the conclusion that this Mariticide was one of self-defence when Lizzie discovered Cree’s second life as The Limehouse Golem. From here we enter a fraught but slightly predictable final act in which the tension mounts as Kildare seeks evidence to support his case and Lizzie edges ever closer to the hangman’s noose.
This is only director Juan Carlos Medina’s second feature film and it does show a little in the slightly heavy-handed over-grimification of 1800’s London. However, with an enjoyable story, an impressively fresh unsmiling performance from Nighy and promising turns and displays of comedy chops from Cooke, Booth and Daniel Mays (Ashes to Ashes, Line of Duty) as an officer assisting Kildare, this is a heartily recommended watch and unmissable for fans of Victoriana and the murder mystery genre.

Review by Genevieve Taylor

Sep 052017
 

GARRO by James Swallow

Published by Black Library, HB, £20, OUT NOW

A unique release amongst the Horus Heresy book series, GARRO by James Swallow is a re-edited collection of all the audio dramas and short fictions featuring Nathaniel Garro, former captain of the Death Guard Legion, and Agentia Primus of Malcador the Sigilite. Labelled as officially the 42nd book in the series, the original Garro stories have been given an overhaul with minor additions by the author – but fear not, these are still essentially the same excellent Garro tales that we have listened to and read over the last few years.

I’ve been a fan of James Swallow since his Blood Angels books, and his three Horus Heresy novels have been some of the best to grace the long-running series. Book four, The Flight of the Eisenstein, is all about Garro, charting his journey from proud Death Guard captain to unlikely rescuer, and herald of Horus’ betrayal. Book thirteen, Nemesis, is an intricately crafted spy thriller, complete with fabulous twists and turns, whilst book twenty-one, Fear to Tread, is Swallow’s epic tale of the Blood Angels Legion being lured into a trap by Horus.

However, despite such a robust track record of great Horus Heresy novels, I approached the author’s hefty hardback release with a wee bit of scepticism. I expected this pseudo-collection to feel disjointed, to be no more than a cobbled together short story volume. I was therefore very pleased to discover that I could not have been more wrong, as some thought has clearly been put into this mighty tome, the myriad Garro tales having been re-sculpted with care, very subtle additions throughout adding character and atmosphere.

The release schedule of the original audio tales was sporadic, and the first two were released out of order, but thankfully we now have a comprehensive and immersive odyssey of Garro’s exploits, from his initial recruitment by Malcador and his subsequent mission to Calth (from ‘Oath of Moment’; worth noting that this collection does not use or reference any of the original release titles), to locating the lost Garviel Loken, uncovering treachery amongst a fleet of refugee ships, to discovering a secret base that may hold a clue to Garro’s destiny, and battling his own doubts to track down Euphrati Keeler, the ‘living saint’ Garro rescued aboard the Eisenstein, saving her from an obsessed killer (a very smart cameo from a character seen in one of Swallow’s other Horus Heresy titles).

Garro is a man of conviction and duty and in the early chapters of the book he is initially possessed of righteous purpose, glad to feel of some use after a lengthy spell under watch in the Somnus Citadel. As the book progresses, and Garro’s missions lead him to unexpected corners of the galaxy, near and far, his conviction begins to waver, as his faith and code of honour lead him to question his role as the sigilite’s Agentia Primus. Author Swallow sells this change in Garro’s nature very convincingly and brings a complex dimension to a character who might otherwise have been predictable in his moral piety.

I get the sense that James Swallow has more tales in store for Garro, and regardless of whether they are audio or prose (Garro surely deserves his own outright novel), they are eagerly awaited.

Review by Andrew Jamieson, Editor-in-Chief Geekzine UK

Andrew is the award-nominated author of steampunk fantasy novels, The Vengeance Path, and its sequel, Children of War, both available from the Amazon Kindle Store.

 

Oct 072015
 
NathanO_The World

Nathan O’ Hagan is the author of The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place, his debut novel published by Armley Press, an independent publisher based in Leeds. He has been dubbed by some critics as being a literary voice akin to Chuck Palahniuk. Geekzine editor-in-chief, Andy Jamieson, caught up with Nathan to discuss his book.

Andy Jamieson: How personal a story is your debut novel? Have any of your experiences found their way into protagonist Gary Lennon’s tale?
Nathan O’ Hagan: It’s very personal in the sense that it’s the first novel I completed. Writing the initial draft was a very intense experience. Not much sleep, some very heavy drinking, chain smoking, not much talking to other people. For a few months I sort of threw everything into it. It was, at the time I started writing it, a very cathartic and therapeutic experience.  In terms of how autobiographical it is, it certainly does contain a lot of me. A lot of Gary’s issues are my issues, albeit exaggerated for dramatic affect, and I think, and hope, the appeal of Gary is that, no matter how extreme his views seem at times, you can always see where he’s coming from. But many of the views Gary expresses are certainly not mine.

AJ: What challenges did you face in completing this book?
NOH: The initial completing was the easy part. The real hard part, as you know, is when you get to the editing process. That was something I found hard. I knew I had a good story in there somewhere, and a strong and believable character, it was just about making it work. There were a lot of passages that I was very attached to which I eventually had to accept didn’t work from a  dramatic  viewpoint.
Also, purely in practical terms, when you work full time and have a young family, it’s very hard to find the time to write.
 
AJ: This novel follows on from your short story collection, Purge. What did the experience of creating that collection teach you when it came to writing The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place?
NOH: Well, I actually wrote the novel first. Purge was written in a very short burst after I’d spent a long time editing The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place and finishing my second novel. So writing the novels actually informed the writing of Purge in that, after a couple of years of trying to be so precise, I just wanted to throw something on the page and, for better or worse, pretty much leave it as was, barring a quick spell check. The whole process of self-publishing Purge (available on amazon for next to nowt – Ed) was sort of experimental, to see whether self-publishing was a route I wanted to take with the novels. The difficulty in finding an audience for Purge as a self-publisher certainly taught me that it wasn’t something I wanted to do with The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place.
 
AJ: How difficult a journey has it been from completing the initial draft to getting it published? 
NOH: Extremely difficult. Like most writers, I’ve had my share of rejections, some where you know they have not read past the synopsis, to a few that loved it but felt it wasn’t right for their list. That was the most frustrating part. If everyone had told me it was shite I probably would have accepted that and given up, but I got enough praise to convince me I should probably keep going. Then when I came across Armley Press via twitter, I just had a feeling we’d be a good match for each other, and I was right. Their DIY, punk approach is something that appealed to me greatly.
 
AJ: And what is next for you, in terms of writing projects?
NOH: Well, as I mentioned, I’ve completed a second novel, which I probably need at least one more rewrite of. I’m also in the early stages on novel number 3, which is proving to be the hardest thing I’ve written so far. I’m about halfway through the first draft and I can’t see myself finishing it this year. After that I’ve got, so far, two further novels I want to write, as well as at least one screenplay idea. I also need to polish the first screenplay I wrote last year. So I’ve got plenty to be getting on with over the next couple of years or so. As I said before, it’s just finding the time to do it.
 
AJ: What influences you as a writer?
NOH: Human behaviour. I’m absolutely fascinated by what motivates people to  act the way they do, to do the things they do. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt on the outskirts, looking in, and from that point of observation I think I’ve developed an insight into what’s going on just underneath the surface of people, regardless of how they appear on the surface.
In literary terms, I certainly have my influences. I think it was a spell of six months or so on the dole reading James Ellroy’s entire back catalogue that first made me think I might want to write novels. But the holy trinity for me are probably Chuck Palahnuik, Irvine Welsh and Kevin Sampson. The way Palahnuik will gleefully take on almost taboo subject matter, Welsh’s ability to find humour and pathos in the grotesque, and Sampson’s amazing ear for dialogue, and ability to truly write how people really talk in a way that few writers can. Those are really inspiring things.
 
AJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer?
NOH: To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever received any that stands out. I’ve never taken any creative writing courses and I’ve never been lucky enough to find a mentor. I did get some advice from an online writing community that I think helped, but I think the old adage ‘write what you know’ is a good rule of thumb, at least when you’re starting off.

AJ: What was the last good book you read?
NOH: I loved The Honours by Tim Clare and I recently read The Given Day by Dennis Lehane, which was immense. I also just finished Blowback by fellow Armley Press writer John Lake. It’s the second part of his Leeds 6 trilogy and I’ll be reading the third part soon.
 
AJ: Any advice for aspiring writers working on their first book?
NOH: Get started! Don’t sit around around thinking about it, get something on the fucking page. Even if it turns out to be shit. Read as much as you can, especially in your chosen genre. Learn from writers you respect, learn what you think works, but also what you think doesn’t work. Be utterly ruthless when it comes to editing. And, to paraphrase a quote from Bruce Springsteen, don’t be afraid of your own greatness, but admit it when you suck.

Thanks to Nathan for his answers. You can buy his novel from any decent bookstore, and amazon.

Check out his page on the Armley Press website: http://www.armleypress.com/#!nathan-ohagan-books/c16jd