Marcus talks to our guest novelist of the Month cult detective novel writer Nicholas Blincoe.
Take a trip with me too!
Marcus talks crime with the UK's up and coming crime novelist Nicholas Blincoe. Currently the UK's biggest new hope, Nicholas's first novel Acid Casuals was launched in October of last year, it was voted by the Telegraph as the "best debut novelist", and voted by RAW magazine as the 2nd best novel of last year, and we at rage think it's brilliant too.
"Hi it's me" said the voice over the intercom, I pressed the door button and i could hear the sound of breathing coming up the stairs. The office door opened and in walked the blonde. I could tell straight away that this wasn't going to be "no ordinary interview". What's yer name I barked 'Blincoe Nicholas Blincoe' he replied in a slight Rochdale accent.
The author of acid casual Nicholas Blincoe is tall blond haired and confident, and at the time of our first meeting was just off on a trip to Bethlehem for Xmas. No he's not religious his girlfriend has relatives there, besides anyone who writes a novel like Acid casual couldn't possibly be religious, drugs, violence, transsexuals all feature in Nicholas's first novel.
For a first novel it's not doing to badly, apart from the Telegraph and the Raw accolades Nicholas has also sold the film rights of the book, and they're currently looking for a screenwriter to turn the book into a film.
Asked how he got into this profession, he replied it was all his Brothers Robert's fault (the books dedicated to Robert) . His brother had always been mad on crime novels and had force fed him them from his mid-20's. Nicholas had liked the gritty realism of the new crime novels like Elmore Leonard (who he's most influenced by) rather than the "middle class cosy writers" like PD James and Ruth Rendell.
Nicholas had always written even before he was force fed crime, producing a staggering three novels before he was 20 . However Acid Casuals wasn't quite as quick. It took a year from it's inception to the final draft, and it's based on a little know French film called Cop au Vin.
However crime novels haven't always been Nicholas's main interest in life. At one point he was in the Factory band MeatMouth a Northern rap band who sounded a bit like the Beastie Boys and who had a single out with the highly original title of "Meat Mouth is murder" (It's a wonder Morrissey wasn't stalking them with a meat cleaver for that bad pun)
When I last talked to Nicholas he was happy he'd just finished his second novel which should be published by Serpent's Tail in October time, and he's also got a short story featured in a new collection "Fresh Blood" produced by Murder One bookshop owner Maxim Jacobsky which should the shops at the end of March..
Acid Casuals -Nicholas Blincoe - Serpent's Tail Publishing £7.99 ISBN 1-85242-509-1
The novel is set the late eighties in and around Manchester's Moss Side and Levenshulme ( beloved of Radio 1 DJ Mark Radcliffe and the Boy Lard). It's a crime fiction novel in the same style as the 50' film noir and the current gritty American crime genre categorised by Leonard and ......except that in Acid Casuals the music isn't jazz it's house. The books title comes from the slang for the football terrace Fred Perry wearing Manchester house fan of the late 80's. A time when the London media was praising the past glories of 70's obscure disco tracks and Manchester was looking to the future with house.
The book follows transvestite hit woman Estella as she tries to locate the gun she lost to young drug "fiend" Yen. The plot is tight and follows her character through the streets of Moss Side and into the clubs and bars of Manchester. The actual clubs she goes to all exist just the names have been changed
The Gravity club features heavily in the plot, and for any of you lucky enough to have gone to the Hacienda you'll recognise just which club it's modelled on. And that's not all. John Quay (Junkie - Geddit) is an ex-speed freak video artist who produces the Warps clubs videos, and bears a very strong resemblance to the French video artist Claude Bezy who worked in the Hacienda for about 5 years. John Burgess the Warp's owner has some vague similarities to good old Tony Wilson (or Anthony H Wilson as he likes to be known now). Finally and not the least is Bernard the Gravity's head bouncer, who also resembles a very large bouncer who just used to work at the Hacienda.
The book motors along and catalogues the highs of the Acid house scene and the low nastiness of the Gunchester scene that existed in Manchester in the early 90's. It's good to see a crime novel set in England rather than LA or New York. It's also good to see it set in the North and set in the working class areas of Manchester, a hark back to the gritty Northern films of the 60's like Get Carter and Gumshoe. The characters are well formed but are a bit rough around the edges you find you get taken in by them, but not totally. An excellent first novel, and I hope he goes on to write many many more.
Here's a short extract just to wet your appetite
Junk had to take the corner chair. Burgess had the best seat but it was his office. When junk returned, he had found Burgess just as he was now. Swiveling in his chair, keeping the whole club under surveillance. Stacked on their shelf at the far end of the room, the six TV sets showed different views of every corner of the Gravity. Burgess turned away from the one he'd been watching - an overhead shot of the main door.
"What do you think he's doing?" Burgess asked.
Junk leant over the TV; the figure just seemed to be scratching himself
Burgess said "He's been scratching himself like that for ten minutes. What do you think is wrong with him ?"
"I don't know. Lice. A rash. How should I know?" Junk didn't even know why he was been asked.
"Well do you think we should tape it, sit him down there, play it back to him and ask him what his problem is?"
"He's supposed to be security. If he can't keep his fucking dick clean , what good is he?"
Junk kept quiet. He didn't see the link between strict personal hygiene an working as a bouncer. But then , he'd never thought about it before. If Burgess believed the connection was significant, presumably he had his reasons. Burgess had a head for that stuff and Junk didn't necessarily follow the line of thought. Half the time, he had enough trouble following his own line of thought.
"Would you sack him?" asked Burgess.
"No , I wouldn't sack him" said Junk. "Why are you asking me?"
"It's an aptitude test. I'm seeing whether intense exposure to my management techniques has given you an insight into the clubs and leisure industry."
"It hasn't," said Junk.
He'd known Burgess for nearly twenty years. He had thought, once, that he knew how to run a club. Hire a DJ, put a bouncer on the door, scoop the notes out of the till at three a.m. and pay off everyone who required it. You could walk off with a roll in your pocket, easy, and out into the night. Burgess had told him those days were long gone. Junk reckoned so, too. He was on the pay roll now.
When he picked up his wages, he took out a slip and read that his tax and national insurance contributions had been deducted. It seemed sacrilegious, working nights in a club and paying national insurance like anyone who clocked on and off for a living. Even the DJs were businesslike. They described themselves as freelancers and hired accountants to negotiate their tax schedules.
Junk pulled his satchel around on to his knee. The video cassettes stacked inside were labeled with sticky freezer labels. Junk reached to the bottom of the bag, found the couple of wraps of cocaine he had made up at home and put them on Burgess's desk. Burgess looked over at them. He already had a wad of notes in his hand . Peeling off a few twenties, he handed them over his shoulder. 'Eighty quid, Junk.'
That was right. And another eighty tomorrow when the cocaine was gone and Burgess needed more. Junk took the notes and slipped them into the front of his satchel.
Burgess said, "what else have you got in there?"
Junk picked out one of his videos: "some Manga flicks that a friend brought back from Japan, snatches of a Czech surrealist short I taped off the BBC and a Gerard Damino fest'." Junk was pretty pleased with the tape he'd edited together for tonight.
Almost ten years ago, Burgess had told Junk he was opening a new club and had a great idea. He was going to have a VJ as well as a DJ, playing videos which would be projected on to screens above the dance floor. Burgess had read about VJs working the clubs of New York and Tokyo. At the time, Junk was pirating video porn for spare change. Burgess hired Junk when he heard about the videoing mixing desk that Junk had built in his flat.
Thanks to Burgess, Junk had become almost famous. Music papers came to interview him. TV producers would buy his tapes and even offer him work. They were a little non-plussed when they found out he was blind in one eye as a result of injecting amphetamine sulphate directly into his eyeball. But it made a good story. Junk never did move into TV - what would he be doing anyway, editing together promos for sports programmes, step aerobics from Venice Beach or something ? He was happier in the club, with his own
VJ booth and editing suite.
Burgess had got excited about Junk's work immediately. He had got into the habit of borrowing Junk's latest tapes. Burgess said , "Well I don't watch telly, it's too slow: I need something with a touch more intensity".
Anyone who saw Burgess, they'd think: late-forties, successful. They might even admire his suit. But they would never see his house. It wasn't only that it was so stark, rather than comfortably domestic. It was the TV sets. Burgess really did play Junk's tapes all the time : snatches of skate videos, monster truck marathons, porno movies, kung fu and Chinese ghost films, Russian cartoons - all cut together into a schizophrenic orgy. It was the only thing that Burgess had in common with Junk. That, and not sleeping.
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