I start Floating In Space talking about the weekend as ‘one long high energy cassette’ and looking back I wonder if today’s younger generation even know what a high energy cassette is, or even an ordinary cassette for that matter? Still, the important thing is the idea, the idea that the hero of my book, Stuart, is profoundly fed up of his nine to five life and spends a lot of his time waiting for the weekend to begin so that once again he can replay the high energy cassette and enjoy life.
Like a lot of first novels, Floating In Space is semi-autobiographical and based very loosely on some of my own experiences. Many years ago I left school and started work for an insurance company and very soon the whole nine to five existence became deadly dull and I longed to be doing something more interesting. I packed in my Insurance job and spent a few months in Spain but I quickly became bored there. I do love Saturday nights out but when every night becomes a Saturday night, the whole thing loses its attraction. Back in the UK I started work as a bus conductor just as a quick way of earning money and fully intending to get a ‘proper’ job soon but I found I enjoyed my new life working different shifts and meeting new and different people as I tripped up and down the roads of Manchester.
How did I come to write Floating In Space? Well, when I was younger I used to write a lot of things, mainly action, adventure and espionage stories. The only inspiration I had was film and television and my own imagination. Sometimes your own imagination is enough but for writing to have a real impact and depth it needs to come from within and that’s where an author finds his true voice. James Bond for instance, is a great character but he didn’t spring wholly from Ian Fleming’s imagination. Fleming, like the fictional Bond, was a Commander in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War and his knowledge of secret intelligence helped him create the world of 007. When Fleming writes about Bond’s love of food and the good things in life, he is writing about himself. It was Fleming who smoked the bespoke cigarettes which he speaks of in the Bond books. It was Fleming who ate scrambled eggs for breakfast and wore ‘Sea Island’ cotton shirts and these small things he passed onto his fictional character, James Bond.
Finding your own voice is the key to finding your way as an author and one day I sat down and decided it was time to write about the world around me rather than what I was watching on television so I wrote an essay about an evening in the Busmen’s works club. It was an essay about beer and cigarettes, about playing pool and snooker and the banter of young men across the polished bar of the club and over the worn card tables. I wrote more and more about what I saw around me and gradually realised that I could spin all this material together into a novel. I wrote the book in the first person and began to develop a colloquial talkative style which I have used ever since. I never successfully put the various parts together into a complete narrative until a few years ago on a wet rainy holiday in France when I finally wove everything into the final book that you can buy today from amazon.
Go on, give it a read!