Ten More Things You Didn’t Know About My Books

Reading & Writing

1. In the cinema commercial we shot for my novel ‘Roofworld’, the neon set we used came from the National Theatre’s production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ because it had just finished its run and was going cheap.

2. In my collection ‘Demonized’, the story called ‘The Green Man’ is mostly true. It was written after I was attacked by macaque monkeys in Malaysia. Even the strange ‘piggy-backing’ moment at the end of the story is true.

3. Many people think I started writing with the Bryant & May series because those are the ones listed by Transworld, but many regarded ‘Spanky’, ‘Psychoville, ‘Disturbia’ and ‘Soho Black’ as a quartet, which makes sense as they were planned that way.

4. Martin Butterworth, who first turned up as a character in ‘Roofworld’, was the artist who painted the cover for ‘Personal Demons’. He wasn’t happy with it and did a second version which replaced the first after its initial print run, so there are two different covers of the same edition out there by accident.

5. Maggie Armitage first appeared in my book ‘The Ultimate Party Book’, after we threw a party, took photographs of everyone drunk, then traced over them to make the illustrations. I’m not the only person to have made her a character in a book. The author Tom Wakefield also used her in several novels.

6. My least successful novel was coincidentally my longest. ‘Red Bride’ had a national poster campaign and got great reviews, but sold disastrously. In the US edition there’s a hilarious photograph of me in formal evening wear for some obscure reason.

7. In ‘Calabash’ the town of Cole Bay is modelled on Herne Bay, but the cover was shot in Brighton, which was where I had the idea for the book, because the onion-turret pavilion seemed so incongruous in a rundown seaside town. The cover picture features a mate of mine who eventually became Maggie Armitage’s model agent. See how incestuous it all is?

8. The original title for ‘Rune’ was ‘Prayerdevil’, but my publisher didn’t like it. The original title for ‘Full Dark House’ was ‘Looking for Lucifer’, then ‘Lucifer’s Footprints’, which became the title of one of my Sherlock Holmes short stories.

9. The man on the cover of ‘Spanky’ was really called Fritz Kok. The last we heard of him, he was recording an album called ‘Rhythm of Saliva’ (I know, makes no sense, ESL, what can I tell you) with producer Otto van den Toom (who sounds like a Jack Kirby character from ‘Fantastic Four’). All I can remember about touring with him was that he was incredibly bored. Rupert Everett was almost signed to play Spanky in the film beside Liv Tyler and Joaquin Phoenix, until the director met him and found him ‘appalling’.

10. The hardback of ‘Roofworld’ was so successful that it went out of print before its official publication date. It’s why the publisher commissioned a cinema commercial for the paperback release. Unfortunately, the commercial went out with ‘The Fly 2’ which nobody saw.

11 comments on “Ten More Things You Didn’t Know About My Books”

  1. John Howard says:

    Fritz and Otto, surely they are part of the Amsterdam set? Hadn’t come across Red Bride but have now ordered, (sorry admin, secondhand), a copy. Apparently the US edition signed by the author no less. (Look forward to the pic of the tux)

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Dang! I just received a copy of the Red Bride secondhand two days ago. It was reasonably priced, but it was the British edition and -dang! – it wasn’t signed by the author. Envy Central here.

  3. John Howard says:

    Sorry Dan, not done deliberately. Will check with you next time just to make sure we are in sync :))

  4. snowy says:

    I’m tickled by the idea of a cinema ad for a book. Had it been done before, or has it since? And where did it fit into the programme?

    It can’t have been in the Pearl & Dean bit, not wedged in with the “Do you like Indian Food? [CUT TO BIT OF CARD WITH WONKY LETRASET]’Bombay House’ [CUT BACK] Just minutes from this cinema!” Surely not?

    It can’t have been in with the trailers, nobody would care, would they?

    And how much nose candy was the publisher on?

  5. snowy says:

    Oh and a bonus link nothing to do with the post, but if you love London and like things at little geeky/techy.


  6. John Howard says:

    Thanks for that link Snowy. Do we know if the radio can pick up Radio 6?

  7. snowy says:

    I don’t think so, it’s definately analogue. AM/FM only, it may not even be a superhet’.

    [Note to non-technical readers a superhet’ is a shortened form of superhetrodyne, a word relating to frequency. And not a breeder with the ability to see through walls, and leapt tall buildings in a single bound.]

  8. John Howard says:

    Aah for the the long lost days of long wave and short wave and when they were the only way of communicating with the rest of the world. Don’t really mean that; am just glad to have lived through them so that I can really appreciate what we have now.

  9. Helen Martin says:

    Superhetrodyne is a period setting word.It is a geek word of – what? – the 30’s and 40’s of the last century? Spell check doesn’t even recognize it as a word now.

  10. snowy says:

    In my haste I used the modern form. It was originally called the supersonic hetrodyne principle. Invented about 1918, but not widely adopted for another decade because it adds considerable complexity.

    For those still at a loss, it is the way a low frequency component (eg. audio content) is extracted from a high frequency carrier (eg. a radio signal). How it works and why its better than the previous techniques gets very dull, very quickly so I’ll go no further.

    But it is still very much with us even in this digital age. Telephone, Radio, TV, and even your Internet connection still rely on this technique.

  11. Helen Martin says:

    I have seen old ads advertising radios equipped with this “new technique”. It always sounded like the secret ingredient in a new face cream, but sounded great. I’m glad to know that it was actually an advance.

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