A Q & A with ‘The Echo’ – 07.9.21
Here’s some questions posed by Louise Howeson, Community Content Editor, from my hometown newspaper, ‘The Echo’, and my answers: –
What inspired the book?
The book was inspired by my continuing love of where music can take me and the desire to write a sequel to a previous ‘pop’ novel that I wrote with my best friend, Andrew Worsdale (nephew of Jim, formerly the editor of the Echo), i.e. ‘FM247: This Is Radio Binfield’ (published in 2009 – and the subject of a feature in the Echo back then). I was keen to explore what happened to the key protagonist, Lugwin Loggins, after he was admitted to Speedwell (psychiatric) Hospital towards the end of the first novel and also to chart his recovery from an acute psychotic episode via ‘radio therapy’ and also with use of the first novel’s format, i.e. of 100 chapters referencing popular music tracks for the novel’s structure and descending in order like a pop chart from numbers 100 to no. 1.
How long did it take to write?
It took just over 10 years. I had quite a few ‘stop-start-stop-start again’ episodes but when I went part-time in my day job last October and then when the 2nd lockdown kicked in in November, I was able to finish the first draft.
Is it based on your life/experiences?
To some extent – many of the references in the first half of the book relate to Southend, Westcliff, Leigh and also Canvey Island. I am from Southend and several places from there and nearby provide the backdrop to my descriptions of ‘Binfield-on-Sea’, ‘Old Binfield’, ‘Binfleet Castle’, ‘Coney Island’ and the tennis courts and The White Hall, near ‘Southbound Grove’.
The opening chapter describing a dream about the assassination of an Albanian Civil Rights leader, Ramiz F. Kreshnik. is based on an early childhood memory of being at home when the shooting of Robert F. Kennedy was reported in a newsflash, interrupting the regular viewing. Lugwin’s accident in that chapter, i.e. falling through a glass door, is based on my own experience of that kind of tumble when I was 7 years old.
And many of the descriptions of mental health work are based on my own experience (as a former psychiatric nurse and social worker) as well as that of being on the ‘other side’ of those services due to an episode of depression many years ago.
The setting for the second half of the book is set in ‘Lines End’ and based on Penzance (which is where the rail line ends at its furthest South-West in the UK), where I now live. The DJ role is also based on my real-life experience as I have presented many shows via community radio stations here in West Cornwall during the last 10 years and continue to do so.
The experience of loss, the bereavements that Lugwin experienced, are based on those within my own family history too. I think that these experiences might resonate with anyone who has had to adjust to such major life events.
And the idea of personal radio broadcasts through sending mixtapes with chat between the tracks is based on this type of communication that I had with Andrew several years ago. It’s quite intimate and evocative. Andrew felt that we had to write about it. So, I guess that this should also be an answer to the ‘inspiration’ question too.
What feedback have you had so far from readers?
Very good, so far! Here are a few selections …
“This novel has great psychological depth and plenty for the reader to contemplate and reflect upon” – Yanina Goldenberg, co-author of ‘The Edge Of Spring: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry.’
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Novel but well worth reading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 29, 2021
This is a very unusual novel but don’t be put off – it’s actually really good! It is not just about the ever-growing issues with mental health problems. There is a fascinating, well-written storyline, a little crime and a little romance. Knowledge of the music scene may help but is certainly not necessary. Readers who know both Essex and Cornwall will recognise places – and even if not, they will be drawn into this interesting story. If you want to read something a little different, then this one is for you!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 September 2021
I am really enjoying this book . A real antidote to all the other struggles. It’s well written and hugely entertaining and takes you off guard. Full of humanity and the Music titles are so evocative as a reader too. I believe there may also be Podcast to accompany this from the Author. Go buy it.
” … a superbly crafted and thoroughly professional piece of work and one of the most engaging and evocative manuscripts with which we are proud to be associated” – Kindle Book Publishing.
Do you have plans to write another book?
I’m currently writing ‘FM247: The Road To Binfield Pier’ which continues the style of music-related narratives with some perspectives on mental health issues and it also keeps to the 100 chapter/song referencing structure too. I’m aiming to finish the first draft later this year and hope to have it published in 2022.
(Q & A ends)
Should you have any questions relating to the FM247 books, I’ll do my best to answer them. Please see the ‘Contact’ page for more details. Thanks.