Just filled in this Questionnaire for fellow blogger, The Rock ‘n Roll Oatcake http://stokieboy.wordpress.com/
They’re snapshots of something, these things, like Desert Island discs; the answers would probably be different tomorrow.
1. With Stoke just two games away from possible automatic promotion do you think we will do it or fall under pressure? Has the Pottermouth poem galvanised the fans and players do you think? (I read one Vale fan comment that the Stoke players wouldn’t understand the accent!)
Even Norwich put 5 past Colchester recently, how hard can it be?
So: yes, I think we’ll do it. I’m amazed we’re in this position at all but the bad-results blip seems to have passed just in the nick of time.
I had an arts journalist from the Guardian (who I didn’t really know) email the Pottermouth link to me: this ‘call to arms’ has even achieved national recognition, which is really something for anything Stoke-related.
Never mind what Fale fans think: they’re back where they belong, in tinpot obscurity.
2. How did you first get into writing and were you pleased with the reaction to ‘She Stood Their Laughing’? What attracts you most about writing and how easy/hard was it to land your first book deal?
I went back to education in my early thirties, to Norwich School of Art and Design. I did a degree in Cultural Studies, which meant I spent my time in three parts: one third art history, one third visual work, and one third creative writing. I’d been accepted on an entirely visual portfolio – I thought painting was what I was going to do, but I discovered I had some talent at writing and really rather less-so re. visual work. My first book was a collection of stories set in Stoke-on-Trent. I had 50 copies of the early prototype of that printed at a local firm and I stood them on a plinth for my final degree show piece. One of those copies found its way into the hands of an editor from Faber and Faber; he subsequently sent me a letter wondering if I had a few more stories to flesh it out into a publishable length. So my intro into publishing was non-standard, in that I was touted up, though I’ve had a few of rejection slips since: three or four editors turned down She Stood There Laughing before Simon & Schuster picked it up.
SSTL got a broad thumbs-up from Stoke fans, and it topped the Independent newspaper’s dedicated sports book chart for a few weeks. Some reviewers didn’t like it because I included terrace talk and filthy language while at the same time referring to French cultural theoretical concepts and applying them to football. They considered this pseudish, as though those two voices couldn’t be part of one person. I was more than happy with that: to be pissing off a few public schoolboy sports hacks.
3. What have been the highlights and lowlights (this maybe a few!) as a Stoke supporter?
Highlights: The League Cup, signing Alan Hudson, the second coming of Lou, the introduction of Delilah, Steino, the Millennium Cardiff, Bjarni, Hoekstra, Gerry, Boskamp’s press calls. This season could provide one, too.
Lowlights: I’ve never enjoyed the relegations; I hated leaving the Vic; post-Waddo our form in the FA Cup has been dire whoever has been in charge; there was a horror period when we kept losing to the Fale who at one point even seemed to be a division higher, but that must surely have been an hallucination bought on by a bad oyster.
4. Any recent music/books/films you would recommend?
Music: Tinchy Stryder: Star in the Hood (my son, Jack, manages this guy: he is the future of UK Grime.) I like Duffy, too.
Book: Currently reading Divided Soul, by David Ritz, an account of Marvin Gaye’s life. I’m partially doing it as research for a part of my next novel – I’ve always been fascinated by that period Gaye spent towards the end washed up in Ostend, it’s seems so incongrous. There are lots of nice lines, for instance, when asked how much he has spent on toot over the years, Gaye replies, ‘I don’t even want to think about it.I don’t want to know. To be truthful, I’ve been careful never to keep track. My attitude has always been, whenever good blow is around, buy it, regardless of price.’
Film: American Gangster is great. It looks superb: Ridley Scott has managed to recreate ‘seventies cops in ‘seventies America, filmed today using modern production values, and made it shine. He’s a genius film maker for the big screen – he would have won Oscars for it if only he wasn’t such a bolshy git.
5. Message for the Stoke fans…
Do eet. Just do eet.
(I can’t get links into this wordpress format, at least not in any straightforward manner … it ought to be a piece of cake. I’ll have to change the template if I can’t sort it out…)