Some of you may have seen this writer blog The Next Big Thing that’s been going around recently. The fantastic poet Andrew Philip (his new book is being published by Salt this year) sent me on the questions, and then I’m supposed to send these on to more writers once I’m done. As LoveSexTravelMusik isn’t out for a few months yet I thought I should answer about Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs….
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I read The Damned United by David Peace, which is a brilliant portrayal of football in 1970s England, especially male relationships in 1970s England, and I thought: I want to do that for the Premiership. The book was always going to be based on my own family’s experiences as United supporters, but the hero of the book was originally Eric Cantona until the film Looking for Eric came out. That was a real blessing, as Cantona burned too bright for too short a time to be right for the novel. I needed someone who was a survivor, who could have played at the same time as Mikey but then also played 20 years later. Which left only one player eligible. Meanwhile, Peace is working on a novel about Bill Shankly, and I’ll be first in the queue for the finished product, Red or Dead.
What genre is the book?
I’m not sure – is football fiction a genre? If not perhaps ‘faction’ is as good as any to put it under. That’s something Peace has talked about, using real life events as a starting point but then spiralling into fiction. Peace, and Gordon Burn, who inspired him, have argued that the only way for the novel to remain relevant is to mix fact and fiction (just like the news does – so says Burn.) I like the idea of melding the two and had great fun with it.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Well, my hero Mikey Wilson, the worst player ever for Manchester United – who would you get? Well, I’m not sure but though he hardly fits the description, I rather like Daniel Day Lewis. At least you know he’d commit to the part, and could probably bring the necessary darkness to older Mikey. If I can’t have Day Lewis, we’ll just leave it as a novel…
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs is the story of the worst player ever for Manchester United – and his obsession with the greatest ever.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Indirectly it was the glitzy 24 hour family friendly Premiership – and all that comes with it. My way into that came via my brother, who is a producer for Sky Sports News. He was a great commentator of all our imaginary football adventures when we were kids, and his job got me thinking about the rights and responsibilities caught up with this multi-million industry which takes up the time and energy of so many who are swallowed by the game.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The fact that is has been universally acclaimed. (Insert appropriate cheeky emoticon here).
Will your book by self-published or represented by an agency?
I’ve had the same agent since my first book, Jenny Brown of Jenny Brown Associates, who has always been fantastic for me. And the book was published last April by Tindal Street Press, now part of Profile Books. Serpent’s Tail will be publishing the paperback this April, so I hope it’ll find its way to more readers in 2013.