Tell me what inspired you to write about your latest book?

SirensThe first spark for Sirens came when I was young and drunk, at a pill party in Manchester. No-one knew who owned the house and there was a lot of mystery about the man who did. There was talk of a girlfriend who’d vanished under mysterious circumstances. At the time I was reading The Great Gatsby and thought that might make an interesting modern update. Instead of Gatsby attracting the young and the beautiful with lavish, jazz-age bashes, I’d have a drug dealer, throwing raucous parties. Instead of Daisy, his lost love, I’d give him a missing girlfriend. And instead of Nick, seduced by it all, I’d have a young detective undercover. A lot changed but that was the original idea.

Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say waterstones website?

As the book’s so far from publication – I haven’t had to worry about reviews yet. I’d probably only read the bad ones…

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?

Nope – I’d go wherever I liked.

What did you do before becoming a writer?

I got fired from Alton Towers several years in a row. Then bars and bookshops. Working in bookshops was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Which author inspires you?

Too many to mention. My last few reads were Christopher Hitchens, James Lee Burke, Joan Didion and William Gibson.

Which genres do you read yourself?

Mainly crime and fiction but I have some sci fi authors I depend on. And non-fic is always good to pick up when I’m in a rut. I like to just wander from one side of a bookshop to the other and pick up anything that catches my eye.

What is your biggest motivator?

Hard to say. I’ve always, always written. The original motivator when I was a kid was insomnia. As I got older it became an outlet and a way of expressing myself. Often I don’t know I’ve thought or felt something until I see it written down.

What will always distract you?

I have to get into a certain mental space to write, but once I’m there nothing really distracts me.

How much say do you have in your book covers?

I had a very strong, inclusive relationship with Transworld on the cover for Sirens. A wonderful, pleasant surprise – They couldn’t have treated me better.

As a child were you a great reader?

Always, due to the aforementioned insomnia. I’d read anything that was lying around – mainly sci-fi from my dad.

Which book shop is your favourite?

Hard to say! I spent many happy years working at Waterstones Deansgate and always fall back in love with it whenever I’m in Manchester. That said, Waterstones on Piccadilly is the biggest bookshop in Europe, great for finding unbelievable stuff you’ve never seen before. Also have a soft spot for my hometown indie bookshop Picturebook in Leek, Staffordshire.

What can you not resist buying?

Books. I get a lot of proofs free with work but nothing’s nicer than buying a pile. I always do when I’m feeling down or at a loose end.

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?

No rituals other than a little bit of preparation. Making sure I have a good notebook and pen. And strong coffee, which I mainline…

How many books in your own to be read pile?

Impossible to say/own up to.

What is your current read?

Currently reading John Banville’s beautifully sad and interrogative novel Eclipse. A famous stage actor suffering from depression retires to his childhood home in an effort to trace the source of his malaise. The evocative recollections of his past, and his incredibly sharp, cynical musings on life, are great for a misery guts like me.

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