One of the things that’s struck me most about becoming a dad is how much less of a big deal it is than I expected it to be. That’s not to say it isn’t hard work, or life-changing, or sometimes a bleary-eyed, uphill slog, but I was expecting more of a fundamental shift in my worldview, something deeper and more profound.
I’ve noticed as I’ve got older that I’ve started finding my brands. In my twenties I never really thought beyond the item itself. If I liked it, I bought it. I never considered repeat buying. In fact I went out of my way to avoid it, as if it showed a chronic lack of ambition and a paucity of imagination. I might have bought a great pair of jeans, but I couldn’t possibly buy the same pair again when the first wore out. It seemed an alien concept, up there with having the same meal on the same day each week, or blocking out sex time with my girlfriend in the diary. Some things just aren’t meant to be regimented.
TURF started as a short story called The Angels of Hackney, which I wrote as an exercise on the Creative Writing degree that I took at Middlesex University. I was intrigued by all the peculiar characters that I used to see around my area, and there was one guy in particular, who we nicknamed The Sheriff. The Sheriff used to patrol up and down Stoke Newington Church Street in Hackney, often wearing a black-brimmed hat. He walked with a slow swagger andwould stop passers-by and wish them well and check to make sure they were okay. He clearly wasn’t all there, but he was extremely good-natured and seemed to have taken it upon himself to be the unofficial guardian of the neighbourhood, even walking one of my female friends home late one night. Read more “The Origins of Turf”
I left university in 2007 with three ideas that I wanted to turn into novels. One was a dystopian epic that I didn’t feel at that stage my writing skills could do justice; another was the story that is slowly turning into my second novel; and the third was what eventually became TURF. The deciding factor for choosing TURF was that it was set in Hackney and was the easiest to research. I just needed to explore the local area. At the time, the gang element was only a minor theme in the book – instead it was mainly concerned with Hackney and its residents – so I spent a lot of time walking around the borough, soaking in the atmosphere, picking up on its idiosyncrasies, and really trying to nail down what it was that made the place tick. Read more “Growing up in Hackney”
I felt like I was one of the last people to know about the Riots last year. Earlier in the week, thanks to TURF, I’d agreed a book deal with Random House, and that coming weekend was the first chance I’d had to properly celebrate. And celebrate I did. It took a couple of days before I felt able to deal with reality again, and by that time the world had been turned on its head. Read more “Thoughts on the London Riots August 2012”
Last autumn I was asked to judge the 13-18 year old category in the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s national creative writing competition. The winner was Jessica Ault, a 13 year old pupil at Grantham Sports College in Derbyshire. It was a fantastic piece of writing.
…and sleeping it would seem from this magazine shoot. Great little piece about Turf in Dazed. I can write with my eyes closed apparently.