Writing and Publishing Distortion – Advice for writers

I haven’t made a big song and dance about it…yet, but my second novel, Distortion, is now out as an e-book and a paperback. It’s been a long process, but my writing and editing skills have been sharpened by working with the inspiring clients I have worked with since 2013, when I set up my freelance editing business, Wild Rosemary Writing Services.

Now I have helped other people’s dreams of publication to come true, I felt that I knew the editing process well, I had great feedback from my friends who wee the “beta readers” of the book before it was published, and I had a wonderful cover designed by Susie Morley, which really makes the book eye-catching.

I started writing Distortion in 2010, shortly after finishing my writing MA, and it was wonderfully freeing to write something brand new, without any baggage or restrictions. Having new ideas and developing new characters was really exciting, and the second time around, I felt much more sure-footed when it came to plotting the novel.

Now I’ve written and self-published two novels, I can pass on some advice for aspiring novelists – I’d love to know what you think.

  1. Don’t work alone. Being part of a writing group is really useful. Find one that suits you, and if you can’t find one, form one yourself. I was one of the founding members of the Sheffield Novelists group, and now it’s been going since 2009, helping people through the creative process and bringing writers together. There are also many online writers’ groups, such as Scribophile. The ideal writers’ group will keep you going – e.g. help you to commit to writing a chapter per month, encourage you, but also discuss aspects of your work that could be improved.
  2. Keep going ! If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a million and one things in your life as well as writing a novel. Just keep going. Even if you can only commit half an hour in a day, or a few hours at weekends to your writing, keep up that commitment to yourself. This is something that you may keep needing to evaluate if you let yourself down, but that’s how I finished, and edited Distortion.
  3. Don’t hurry! In my opinion, a novel needs space and time to breathe and develop. You may find yourself being as influenced by your novel as much as you are creating it. For example, I thought that my music-obsessed teenage main character, Jason, might be really into the band Manic Street Preachers, so I started buying their albums, despite not being a big fan to start with. It had also been years since I had picked up a guitar. Along the way, I now have a “libraries gave us power” Manic Street Preachers tattoo (featured below), I’ve learned how to play the bass, and I’m now playing the guitar in a band. Your novel is part of you, so live and breathe it while you are writing. Obviously this would be a little worrying if you were writing a murder mystery though.
  4. Keep learning: go to writing workshops and spoken word nights whenever you can, read about and research the craft of writing, and meet fellow writers. Pop into your local library (hopefully you have one!), or search online for writing events near you. Often, there are events that are free or affordable, and there’s advice online. Go Teen Writers is one of my favourite blogs for advice on the nuts and bolts of writing, although it does tend to have a U.S. bias. This will also help you to build up a network of other writers and get great advice from published authors as well as people who are starting out.
  5. Edit as much as you can. Once you’ve finished the first complete draft, put it away for a few weeks at least and enjoy the freedom. Once your writing fingers start itching again, edit until your book is the best you can make it. There’s some good advice here about editing your book in layers.
  6. Once you’ve edited your book, you still need an external editor. This isn’t just a plug for my own editorial services! Whether this is someone that you pay, or a friend or relative you can trust to be eagle-eyed and even ruthless at times, you need someone to spot those silly mistakes (no matter how carefully you think you’ve checked your manuscript) or daft ideas that just didn’t work. Then go through the book again yourself, just in case anything stands out.
  7. Self publishing is difficult, but worth it. It’s great to get my words out in print and to know that people around the world can read them. The problem is publicity and marketing. I love my books, but I don’t want to feel like I’m blowing my own trumpet all the time and boring friends on social media and in real life to death by constantly reminding them to buy my book – and then to review it on Amazon. You’ve got to get the balance right. It’s a good idea to help out other authors too, particularly self-published ones. Give other writers good reviews and hopefully, they’ll do the same for you!

Please take a look at Distortion. If you fancy reading an exciting novel about secrets, lies and loud guitars, you’ll definitely enjoy it. It’s out as an e-book and also as a rather handsome paperback.

Here’s the blurb:

When teenager Jason Knight picks up a battered acoustic guitar in a charity shop, he just wants to form a band with his best friend Ben and stop being bullied by his nemesis, Bradley Smeed.

Jason’s guitar playing stirs up memories for his mum Kaz. She’s been keeping her true identity secret: fourteen years ago, she ran away from cult stardom in the band Mission Control, traumatised by the death of her lover, troubled guitar genius Daz Lightning.

Will Jason Discover the truth and become a rock god?

Read a sample or buy the book below!

 

Published in 2016 – Vivian Edwards by Chelle Martinez

This is the first erotic novel I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Some of the books I’ve edited have steamy bits, but this is basically all steam!

It’s been an interesting challenge for me, but I would love to work on more projects like this. Who knows? This book might be the next Fifty Shades of Grey. It will certainly take you on a wild ride.

Vivian Edwards is hot off the press, in more ways than one. Based on Martinez’s true life adventures on the sultry island of Fernando, you’ll be thrilled, shocked and mesmerised!

Buy the book here in paperback and e-book.

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A sultry new read for fans of Fifty Shades of Grey

Published in 2016 – Railway Ghost Stories by Ted Cook

I’ve always loved a good ghost story, so this was a book that I really enjoyed working on. Inspired by the real-life experiences of ex-signalman Ted Cook, this book provides an insight into the fascinating world of British Rail, with some true, shiver-down-the-back thrills.

Download it to read on your Kindle for your next train journey but take time to look up at those crumbling old station buildings and signal boxes. Who knows what you might see?

Buy the book here, and don’t forget to leave a review – but don’t give away any spoilers!

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Be a Writer, See a Writer, Hear a Writer at Walkley Carnegie Library

For the past three years, I’ve played a major part in organising an event for Off the Shelf, Sheffield’s literary festival, which runs for three weeks in Sheffield throughout the city. Two years ago, I ran my own memoir writing course, and last year, I led a storytelling walk for families in the beautiful Rivelin Valley on a beautiful autumnal day.

Over the past year, I’ve become involved as a volunteer for Walkley Carnegie Library, my local library. Due to council cuts, many libraries in Sheffield now rely on volunteers to keep running. Ironically, because the volunteers are so passionate about the library, the range of events and services available is wider than ever, from pre-school storytelling, to knitting clubs and book sales. In March, I helped out at the launch of local bestselling author Gavin Extence’s new novel, The Mirror World of Melody Black. That gave me an idea. What about an event that showcased the talents of Walkley’s writers?

Walkley is an underrated suburb of Sheffield, in my opinion. The houses are mostly small terraces, sliding downhill towards the Rivelin valley on one side and the tram tracks running towards Hillsborough on the other, but there are some much larger older houses with huge gardens. All sorts of people live here – those who’ve lived in Walkley for generations, young professionals, families and students who appreciate a quieter life than they’d get down the hill in Crookesmoor. Yet, in May, the doors of many Walkley houses, big and small, open at the beginning of May for the annual Open Up event. Lots of artists live here, working hard in attic bedrooms and studios. There are lots of writers too, which I’ve realised by gradually meeting and chatting to people. Walkley is a hotbed of quiet creativity. We need to connect with each other, and encourage the new writers of the future.

Working with volunteer events co-ordinator Annie Bore, we planned an Off the Shelf event with something to appeal to writers and readers of all ages, and put in our funding bid to Off the Shelf, to start us on our way. We called the event “Be a Writer, See a Writer, Hear a Writer”, as people would get the chance to do all three during the course of the day!

Our funding bid was successful, so I contacted local writers and started planning the publicity. I’ve spent the last few weeks madly pinning up posters, tweeting, posting the event on Facebook and emailing everyone I know who is interested in creative writing. Back at the library, ticket sales looked slow. Late last week, I was panicking slightly. What if no one came? Would the writers I’d involved in the event be upset if no one turned up? Would the other library volunteers think I hadn’t planned the event well? In the end, the only thing to do was to keep spreading the word about the event, through word of mouth, emails, posters, and social media.

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling very nervous. I’d dropped the Usborne books for the book stall off the day before, along with my typewriter and decorations for the library, which made things easier, but as soon as we’d set up, the rain started pouring down outside. Throughout the course of the morning, only a few families visited the library. However, I did use my typewriter to write some lovely stories with children: one about a little girl helping some butterflies to fly home safely in the rain under her umbrella; and the other about an evil Spiderman battling Captain America and the Hulk. We also played giant scrabble and painted sparkly letters to be hung on a washing line around the children’s library. Young Adult author Sarah Dalton also joined us for the morning, and donated some books to the library.

The writing workshops went well, although I had been a bit worried about numbers. This gave me an excuse to join in with them, which was no problem for me! We had some amazing young writers from local schools, and a special mention must be made to a friend from Oxfam stewarding, who joined us all the way from Worcester for the day. Daniel Blythe gave us a masterclass in developing stories by using settings, and inventing characters using photographs and a “character map” to help us to plan. Creative writing is something that everyone should be able to do – not necessarily for a living! But it’s great to flex your imagination and develop new ideas. Daniel works regularly in schools to prove just that. In a world where some children think that the most important thing a story needs to start with is a capital letter, imagination can be a rare commodity.

Poet Rob Hindle inspired us to bring historical characters and events alive in poetry. We started off by imagining historical characters who didn’t quite make it, such as Shakespeare’s frustrated actor brother, who ended up as an “extra” in William’s plays, and the wife of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who didn’t like tall hats. We read a selection of poems by Martin Espada and Eevan Boland that dealt with historical themes and characters before starting some of our own.

We each picked a photograph or painting from a historical scene, and Rob asked us a series of questions about the picture. We had to write descriptions of what was happening, details we didn’t notice at first; what sounds could be heard. Then we used our answers to construct a poem. It was a great idea, and we all came out with an interesting, dramatic first draft of a poem.

There was time for a quick trip home to eat, before heading out again for the evening event. The other library volunteers had organised everything really well – refreshments and room arrangements were all in place, and the only thing I needed to do was to help carry a few more chairs, as people kept arriving, and shortly after 7pm, the library looked like a real literary soiree!

The open mic slot was fully booked, and we were treated to short excerpts of everything from humorous haiku, novel extracts, short stories, to poems about the black hole under the cooker where everything disappeared. Next, Fay Musselwhite, Chris Jones and other poets from Longbarrow Press enthralled us with poems about families, landscape and long journeys.

Folk musician Patrick Rose had the audience absolutely captivated with his songs – drawing on the folk traditions of the Childe ballads, and his own compositions, particularly ‘Paradise Square’, about a forgotten piece of Sheffield history. Patrick sang on his own and accompanied by his beautiful guitar playing, and we were spell-bound.

Finally, novelist Gavin Extence gave us an exciting exclusive extract from his third novel – the first time he’s shared any of it in public. We really enjoyed it, and when it’s a bestselling novel, like his previous books, The Universe Versus Alex Woods and the Mirror World of Melody Black, we’ll be able to say that we heard it first!

At the end of the evening, I was pleased and relieved that I’d pulled it off – I had organised a miniature literary festival! People really enjoyed it, and it gave a wide variety of writers a chance to perform their work. The experience of putting on an event is always nerve-wracking, but it’s also addictive. We’re already starting to think about other literary events that Walkley Carnegie Library could host, so watch this space!

 

From dreams to publication in 2015

I’ve been rather quiet on my blog, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve been quiet in real life. During 2015 so far, I’ve helped four authors to publish their books.

The editing process varies from client to client. Some people approach me with a manuscript that’s almost ready to be published, whereas other books need more shaping. Some of my clients are already fairly confident with computers and the internet – but I’m happy to guide people through the whole process and de-mystify it for you. I can also work on an effective cover design and blurb for your book.

Some books need to be typed up, having languished in a bottom drawer for years. If you, or someone you knows has a hand-written or type-written manuscript, that’s absolutely fine by me!

Some people don’t have manuscript at all – it doesn’t mean they don’t have a story to tell. If this sounds like you, let’s talk – and I’ll do the writing.

The reason that I use self-publishing platforms such as Amazon’s Createspace is that publishing is now accessible to everyone. As a self-published author, you’re in control of what your book looks like, how much it costs, and you receive the royalties directly into your bank account. I can also help you with marketing tools, such as setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account for your book, and advising you on book launches and other promotional tools.

I’m currently on the look out for new clients, so please get in touch if you think I can help: https://wildrosemarywritingservices.wordpress.com/what-i-can-do-for-you/

Don’t take my word for it though – take a look at the books I’ve published so far this year.

Send in the Clown by Tom Webster

Send in the Clown by Tom Webster

Send in the Clown by Tom Webster

Tom Webster was born in 1931, and in the 1970s and 80s had a successful career writing radio plays for the BBC, juggling his writing with his job as a head teacher. On his retirement, Tom started to write his first novel, ‘Send in the Clown’, set on the North Yorkshire coast.

From a distance, it looks like a bundle of old clothes washed up at the tide’s edge, but thirty years in the Met tells Howard otherwise. It’s a body. And a body says trouble.

When Howard Johnstone retires from the CID, he returns for a holiday in his home town on the North Yorkshire coast. He stays, enticed by a beautiful face from his past. Gwen Melsome, the Fair Miss Frigidaire.

July 1962: Saltby Grammar’s production of Twelfth Night. Howard as Feste the clown. Gwen, the cool lady Olivia. Type casting. A passionate but interrupted backstage embrace.

After thirty years, Gwen is back, running her father’s old bookshop, and Howard falls in lust all over again. With wishful thinking, Howard takes on a part-time driving job for one of Saltby’s great and good, surgeon Alex Saunders. But when he finds a body on the beach, Howard curses his luck. He’s been an idiot to return, and an even bigger idiot to stay. Nothing but trouble ahead.

Take a look on Amazon.

 

Difficult Times by Debbie Mansfield

Difficult Times by Debbie Mansfield

Difficult Times by Debbie Mansfield

Debbie lives in Sheffield with her husband and pet spaniel Jasmine. Difficult Times is a romantic thriller, set in an England where climate change has made many of its citizens homeless.

The sea waters have risen around the coast of Britain, bringing chaos and misery to thousands.

Jane works in a homeless shelter. After the death of her husband, she submerges herself in her work. Can she turn her own life around and meet someone special again? Clara lives alone and struggles to cope with the effects of aging. Will she survive when she is burgled and left for dead?

Martin is one of the unlucky ones. He sets out to make himself a new beginning in Leeds. Can he overcome the misery of living on the streets and find happiness?

Jez, Freddy, Matt and Neil are four homeless youths squatting in Leeds. What will become of the four friends as their hardship intensifies? Their paths become entwined, with devastating consequences. Is there a happy ending for any of them?

Take a look on Amazon.

Who Your Friends Are by Susan Day

Who Your Friends Are by Susan Day

Who Your Friends Are by Susan Day

Susan has been writing for a long time, developing her skills as a hobby, grabbing time in between work and a busy family life. She’s now retired and loves devoting her time to writing. Who Your Friends Are is Susan’s first published novel, but there will be many more to come.

Two little girls, Pat and Rita, back in the 1950s, become best friends. Who Your Friends Are tells the story, in Pat’s words, of the way their lives diverged.

Rita is ambitious and determined and becomes successful in a way neither her family nor Pat would ever have imagined. Pat follows Rita’s career with interest but without envy. She herself follows a conventional route through marriage, children, a job in a caring profession, and always believing in the enduring quality of their friendship.

Now Pat finds herself without a job, with her children all grown up and time on her hands. Her past history with Rita is due for a reassessment – what will she make of it?

Take a look on Amazon.

 

Tomorrow Never Comes by Derek S. Lupson

Tomorrow Never Comes by Derek Lupson

Tomorrow Never Comes by Derek Lupson

Some people would struggle to fill a small notebook with their life achievements and adventures. Tomorrow Never Comes is Derek’s first book – his hair-raising escapade in Ethiopia in the final year of Haile Selassie’s reign as he attempts – and succeeds in setting up a trading organisation based on NAAFI for the Ethiopian Imperial Airforce. I hope that Derek will now tell the world of his many exploits in his long and illustrious career with NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes).

The rifle was forced through the window of my old Renault Four car and rammed up my nose, forcing my head back at a painful angle. Here I was: a youngish retail executive, outside the rebel-held Airforce Base of Debre Zeit, deep in the heart of Ethiopia, while two rebels argued about killing me. It is at times like this that one wonders how the hell one got into such a situation.

Derek Lupson didn’t ask for a life of adventure. In 1973, he was running a supermarket for NAAFI in darkest Doncaster. The Managing Director then tells Derek that he’s the ideal person for a little job he has in mind.

The “little job” involves being posted 4,000 miles away, to Ethiopia, a country that has to be pointed out to him on a map. His task: to set up a modern trading organisation, based on NAAFI, for the Imperial Ethiopian Airforce.

In his struggle to achieve the impossible, Derek comes face to face with Emperor Haile Selassie, corrupt bureaucrats and wild animals. He encounters heart-rending poverty and decadent glamour.

But does he find the love of his life?

Take a look on Amazon.

Wild Rosemary Writing Services: Publishing Track Record!

It’s great to announce that some of the books I have worked on as an editor and a “self-publishing enabler” have now been unleashed on the world, and I’m very proud of them.

Joe Blow by Joe Ashton

Former veteran Labour MP, Joe Ashton, has now published his memoir Joe Blow, which is available in the Sheffield Star shop: York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU, which you can also order by calling 0114 2521299. The book is also available from B&B Office Machines in Broomhill, Sheffield. Call 0114 2668251 or email sales@bandboffice.co.uk for more details.

Extracts from the book has also been serialised in the Sheffield Star newspaper. You can read the first one here.

The Woodhead Diaries

Barnsley folk music legend Dave Cherry has been enjoying a big success with his novel The Woodhead Diaries, a historical murder mystery featuring the real life story of the construction of the Woodhead railway tunnel through the Pennines in Victorian times, and the 1950s detective who pieces together the mystery of the bodies which turn up during the construction of the third railway tunnel.

Legends and Rebels of the Football World

Football coach and former international football player, Norm Parkin, has also published his book, Legends and Rebels of the Football World. The book is Norm’s journey to meet and interview some of the biggest and most notorious football heroes of the twentieth century, and all the profits will go to the Philippines Typhoon Relief Fund.

Joan Lee is 91 years old, almost 92, and she’s as sharp and bright as she ever was while she was working as one of Sheffield’s most long-serving pub landladies! She’s now a publishing powerhouse, as not only has she published her memoirs, with fascinating stories from the Sheffield blitz and pubs from the East End of Sheffield to posh Dronfield. Behind Bars has proved to be very popular. Now Joan has published Gammon and Pineapple, a novella with a new twist on romance!

Cover design version 2

And as well as the Dales Tales poetry anthology, I’ve also published the first collection of poetry by Darren Howes. Poems from A Room Beyond Awareness is spiritual, thought-provoking and also humorous – an exploration of a path into Buddhism.

If you would like to publish your book in 2015, please contact me. With a proven track record, I can work with you to professionally edit, format and publish your book as a paperback on Amazon Createspace or Lulu.com, and as an e-book on Kindle Direct Publishing. I will guide you through the process and help to demystify it, and can even design your book cover for you! When your book is finished, you will be in charge and the royalties from book sales will come directly to you.

It doesn’t matter if you need to dictate your book to a “ghost writer”, if you have a type-written manuscript in your back drawer, or if you are an experienced writer who needs guiding through the maze of self-publishing – I can help.

Contact me at: anne.grange77@googlemail.com , or call me on 07815966784 to discuss your project. I look forward to hearing from you.

Ten books that inspired me!

The Secret Garden - the original Puffin version I've had since I was eight!

The Secret Garden – the original Puffin version I’ve had since I was eight!

I was given one of those challenges on Facebook, to list ten books that have really influenced me. The basic version is on my Facebook timeline, but as I’m long-winded, and it’s raining outside, I thought I’d do it properly. Also, I’m procrastinating from all the other things on my “to do” list for today.

This is a rather random list – it goes from classic children’s literature to Young Adult fiction, to graphic novels and music biographies. Think of it as a “mix tape” of books, rather than anything cohesive. If you’ve not read children’s literature before, or at least since you were a child, give it a go. Some people miss out on the most amazing books because they fear being seen as “babyish”. More fool them! And the same goes for graphic novels. I’m not the biggest expert in the world, but the Sandman series opened my eyes to its possibilities.

You’ll probably be able to see the themes that have influenced my own writing in all of these books.

I could go on and on, and I probably will, if people keep giving me challenges. It’s very difficult to choose. God help me if I’m ever on Desert Island Discs!

If you click on the links, it will direct you to the Amazon page for each book.

1. The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgson Burnett. I read this when I was about eight years old – a battered Puffin copy that my mum gave to me. It’s a classic of Victorian Children’s fiction – Wuthering Heights “lite”, I suppose, especially with the way the Yorkshire accents are written, but it gave me a deep love of nature, exploring forgotten places, and gardens.

2. The Didakoi – Rumer Godden. This was another battered paperback that my mum encouraged me to read when I was becoming an independent reader. Her suggestions were always spot-on. This is a moving novel about a half-gypsy girl growing up in a secluded orchard, until the outside world starts crashing in on them. Rumer Godden’s children’s books are always incredibly powerful. If you read the book, I’m sure that Kizzy is a character who will stay with you for life.

3. A Country Child – Alison Uttley. Yet another suggestion from my mum. She’s got a lot to answer for! I can’t remember when I first read this book. It just seems to be part of the fabric of my very being. Alison Uttley grew up on a little farm near Cromford in Derbyshire, not far from where I grew up, and only a short drive from Sheffield, where I live now. This book is a fictionalised version of Uttley’s own rural childhood, with beautiful descriptions of the life on a Victorian farm, and the curious imagination of a solitary little girl. Her description of the long spooky walk to school through the woods is a masterpiece.

I Capture the Castle  the beautiful Peacock version that I own - mine's a bit more battered!

I Capture the Castle the beautiful Peacock version that I own – mine’s a bit more battered!

4. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith. Another battered paperback – this time a Peacock, rather than a Puffin. I bought this from a second-hand book sale at university, and only afterwards, did I realise that the writer was also the author of A Hundred and One Dalmatians. This novel is the diary of seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, daughter of a reclusive writer, who has holed himself up in a crumbling castle with his eccentric family. Although I’d never heard of this charming, funny and beautifully written book when I first read it, it’s now widely cited as an influential novel by many writers, including J K Rowling, so I’m in good company!

5. Junk – Melvyn Burgess. Moving onto a Young Adult novel that’s slightly more contemporary, I read this book about fifteen years ago. It’s a hard-hitting story of two suburban teenagers who run away from home and are gradually drawn into heroin addiction. It sounds grim, and it’s an emotionally challenging read at times, but the characters are so well drawn, and the realistic description of the grimy underground world of squats, punk and anarchism in 1980s really influenced my own writing.

6. The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman. When I was in my first year at university, a friend lent me ‘Brief Lives’, a graphic novel in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. It was my “gateway” drug into the dark, magical world of Neil Gaiman. The Endless are seven beings, immortal siblings who rule over different aspects of creation: Death, Dream, Destruction, Despair, Desire, Destiny and Delirium. The Sandman is Dream, who oversees the world of sleep, with a library of dreams in his realm. A tall, over-serious, gloomy gothic character, he gets drawn into the lives of mortals. The series draws on influences as diverse as ancient mythology, Shakespeare, to DC superheroes. The combination of gripping, surreal plots, beautiful artwork, a tapestry of references and engaging characters draws me in every time.

7. Phonogram: Rue Britannia – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. This is an amazing graphic novel that I bought from a specialist comic shop in Nottingham, Page 45. I thoroughly recommend a visit, to the website as well as the bookshop. The Phonogram series is about Phonomancers, magicians who use music to influence other people. This book is about the “death of Britannia” aka Britpop, and explores people’s relationship with nostalgia and the power of music. It’s difficult to explain, but if you were an indie music fan in the 90s, this book is essential reading. There are also lots of Manic Street Preachers references too, which I really appreciate!

8. Hopeless Savages – Jen Van Meter. This is another gem of a comic book that I bought from Page 45 in Nottingham, originally as a birthday present, but I read it, and loved it so much that I had to buy a copy for myself. Dramatic, funny and hugely enjoyable, this is the story of a family who prove that you don’t have to conform to the norm to be happy. Punk legends Dirk Hopeless and Nikki Savage now live in suburban America, with four children. The youngest, the wonderfully named Skank Zero, is now in high school, with her own band, finding her own identity. I love this punk rock family and want to be one of them.

9. Everything (a book about the Manic Street Preachers) – Simon Price. Over the past four years, I’ve become a massive Manics fan. Simon Price’s book told me everything I needed to know about them. It’s simply the most thorough and in-depth music biography I’ve ever read, tackling the really challenging subjects such as Richey Edwards’ self-harm, depression and disappearance with great sensitivity and honesty. At the same time, the book is gently humorous, entertaining and thought-provoking. Sadly out of print, but you can get second-hand copies via Amazon, it’s high time for an updated edition.

10. Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love – John Einarson. I got into Love through 60s garage punk and compilations such as Nuggets and Pebbles. They were a brilliant 60s psychedelic band that should have been as big as the Doors, but drugs, paranoia and perhaps racial segregation in the USA at the time prevented Love from being bigger than a cult band. Their classic album Forever Changes is a  psychedelic masterpiece. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into the album until a couple of years after I’d seen Arthur Lee live at Glastonbury. And sadly, Lee died of Leukaemia in 2006, meaning that I will never get the chance to see him again. But this book is the next best thing, a wonderful insight into the world of Arthur Lee and Love, with some extracts from Lee’s unpublished memoirs, it’s an entertaining, moving and enlightening read.

11. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into my world! If you’ve enjoyed my recommendations, here’s another book you might enjoy. A novel about love, betrayal and cider, you might spot some of the influences from the books above in my own first novel, Outside Inside. And wait to see what I’ve soaked up and absorbed in my new novel, which will be out at some point when I’ve stopped procrastinating…