❉ Shooting from the lip with the ‘Brit Grit’ crime writer.
Paul D. Brazill‘s books include Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, A Case Of Noir, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in Hartlepool in 1962, which was the same year the first Beatles single and the first Bond film were released. It’s no coincidence, I’m sure.
My first job was on a government scheme updating ordinance survey maps. It wasn’t as glamourous as it sounds.
I’ve worked in a second-hand record shop, a toy shop and as a welfare rights worker. I’ve been TEFL teaching in Poland for more than a decade and have yet to be deported.
What is your creative background?
I don’t think I have one. I played bass in a couple of bands in the early ‘80s but then, didn’t everyone? I did a screenwriting course in the ‘90s and wrote a screenplay. I sent it to ‘a well-known film production company’ but they never got back to me. It was the only copy I had of the bloody thing but I never bothered to ask for it back.
Which writers inspire you?
Funny ones. Ones with a distinctive world view, preferably a view askew. They don’t have to be ‘book writers.’
Who is your favourite author and why?
I’ve read lots of people’s books and enjoyed them for lots of reasons. I don’t have favourites, though. I used to binge read authors in the ‘90s- James Lee Burke, Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith – and then overdose on them. I try to stagger it a bit better now. Les Edgerton, Paul Heatley, and Marietta Miles are current favourites.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Oh, I didn’t. After I discovered flash fiction, I decided to have a go myself, and wrote enough to bluff people into thinking I’m really a writer – the only crime is getting caught! I breath more than I write, however, so I’m more of a breather, really. I hope never to get breather’s block.
What drives you to write?
I enjoy it, for the most part. It’s not an unpleasant experience.
Tell us a little about your latest book. What’s it about?
Well, I’m a bit of a (re)boot boy at the moment:
The Last Laugh: Crime Stories was first published by All Due Respect books in 2106. ADR have recently come under the umbrella of Down and Out Books who have rebooted it a bit. It’s a short story collection. The yarns date from 2008 to 2014, so it’s a good sampler of my cobblers. Here’s the blurb:
‘From France, to Spain, to the north east of England, hit men, gangsters, corrupt cops, drunks, punks, and petty thieves all tumble toward the abyss. The stories in The Last Laugh are vivid and violent slices of Brit Grit and international noir, full of gaudy characters and dialogue sharp enough to cut your throat. The Last Laugh is a violent and blackly comic look at life through a shot glass darkly.’
Kill Me Quick! Was first published in 2015 by Number 13 Press who have now joined forces with Fahrenheit Press. So the book is due to be rebooted in May this year. Here’s the blurb:
‘We’re all lying in the gutter. But some of us are staring at the space between the stars…
Seatown may not have a lot going for it – apart from the Roy Orbison lookalikes and Super Seventies Special every Thursday night, of course – but it is at least the place Mark Hammonds calls home. And after a decade away, it’s the place he returns to when he has nowhere else to go.
From dead bikers to dodgy drug deals, from one downbeat bar to another, from strippers to gangsters and back again: the luckless former musician bounces from one misdeed to the next along with a litany of old acquaintances, almost as though he never left. And if only he can shake off everybody who wants to kill, maim or otherwise hurt him, maybe he could even think about staying.
After all, there’s no place like home, eh?’
What has your journey as a writer been like?
Fun. Really. It’s not exactly working down a mine, is it? It’s no great responsibility. The world won’t end if I write or if I don’t. Which is nice. I’ve never had unrealistic expectations so it’s all a bonus.
Near The Knuckle have published three of your novels: Too Many Crooks, A Case Of Noir, and Big City Blues. What are they like to work with?
I knew Craig Douglas from the Near To The Knuckle website and anthologies. He’s a straight shooter and really cares about the books he publishes. I also like the other books they’ve put out – Paul Heatley’s Eye For An Eye and Gareth Spark’s Marwick’s Reckoning in particular.
You’ve had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. How did your involvement in these anthologies come about?
Maxim Jakubowski sent me an email asking I wanted to submit to one of the anthologies, which was more than somewhat cool. So, I sent him a story which he published in the 8th Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime – Guns Of Brixton. I’ve also had yarns in number 10 – Who Killed Skippy? – and in number 11- Red Esperanto. It was great that he asked me and I’m more than grateful.
Your novels have been described as “Brit grit” and “punk noir”. Can you tell us a little about that?
I think they’re phrases that just sound nice, more than anything. I think Brit Grit came about because of a new wave of gritty, British crime writers like Ray Banks, Tony Black, Alan Guthrie, Charlie Williams, and Cathi Unsworth. The previous perception was that British crime fiction was a bit square and the US version was more edgy.
I think punk noir is nice and catchy too. I guess it comes from the fact that I’ve purloined a few titles from punk and post-punk songs!
How do you feel about your stories after you’re done writing them?
I’m usually pretty happy though there’s always room for improvement. I have no illusions, though. I know I’m no Balzac. I’m not even Villiers de l’isle-Adam!
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
I think Tom Waits would be a top turn. I’m sure he’d have a lot of top yarns, some of which would be true.
For your own reading, do you prefer e-books or traditional paper/hard back books?
I like pretty paperbacks as an aesthetic thing but since I travel about by tram a lot for work, my Kindle is much more practical. And I can make the font bigger, which is very useful for a man of an uncertain age.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I’ve just finished an ARC of Les Edgerton’s fantastic memoir ‘Adrenalin Junkie.’ I’m currently enjoying Richard Prosch’s ‘Answer Death.’
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
It’s not for me to say, thankfully. I don’t bother my pretty little head about such things.
What’s your advice to aspiring authors?
Lord loves a working man, never trust whitey, see a doctor and get rid of it!
What are you working on at the minute? Do you have any upcoming projects?
‘The Days Of Danny Spencer’. It’s the London set story of a disgraced ex copper trying to get his life back together. I’m pitching it as being like Tony Hancock’s The Bedsit meets Rio Dorado/ El Bravo. But it probably isn’t.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Enjoy yourself. It really IS later than you think.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?