I have decided to re start my interviews for the new year. A bit late but at least its still January!
Today I am pleased to be interviewing the best selling author Danny Birch.
Welcome to my blog, Danny.
Can you tell us more about your books, ‘Clipped’ and ‘Get Some’?
Thanks Catherine, ‘Clipped’, my first book, was my take of a gangster story set on one of Europe’s largest housing estates, Bransholme in Hull. It tells the story of two brothers, Alex and Sonny, who – like so many on the estates, are fed up with being broke and decide to take fate into their own hands by doing a relatively ‘small’ job on a warehouse for a few hundred grand. But if only it were that easy, the job brings them to attention of a criminal syndicate in Hull, and they are forced on a job which they can see could be a suicide mission. With some unlikely help in the form of a disgruntled hit man, they form their own plan to survive.
In ‘Get Some’, it’s the story of two childhood friends, who, while having gone separate ways for many years, Tommy serves as a soldier in the Army, Joey enjoys the kudos of being a successful Lawyer. After Tommy is double crossed by a secret Army crime gang in Iraq and ends up in the hands of a viscous militia group, Joey does all he can to try and get Tommy back home.
Tommy endures horrible torture and his ordeal tests who he is, all he wants is to get back home to his pregnant childhood sweet heart , Emma. With Get Some I was trying to show how much of an important trait resilience is, for when you are beyond desperation, and hope is gone, what do you do to survive ? And if you do survive, do you be humble, or do you go all out for revenge ? I’d like to think also that it is a story about true friendship.
You have been described as ‘Nick Hornby of the Facebook / Twitter generation’. How do you feel about that?
I think people can be too kind if I’m honest, I’m just a normal lad having a crack at telling some stories. If even one person enjoys my books, then that’s worth it to me.
I have always loved good stories, and will keep plugging away trying to get near some of those I have loved myself.
So, what gave you the idea to write in this genre? Are you some sort of gangster? What research did you do, and how?
Ha-ha! Me ? Ok, when I was younger I was a bit of a lad, but I never hurt anyone…OK maybe a few but they were all bad! I was more of a Del Boy type, from selling pirate videos to school teachers to rivalling the school canteen with my own sweet shop out of my bag, I had a few things going on. Certain company I kept as a teenager showed me quite a few things, some things were good, some bad, but I am just glad I ‘ got my head sorted’ and went on to do other things. The direction some of my friends were going, I just needed to cut them loose. So in a way I used that time as a sort of base to work from.
I have also had some very interesting conversations with some of the most interesting characters through my job. As sometimes if I have been to court for work I occasionally bump into old friends, they cant believe I work in the Legal field, but still, they always talk to me like one of their own. I guess I have always liked the loveable rogues, from Han Solo in Star Wars, to De Niro’s character Jimmy the gent in Goodfellas, I think I like to make my main characters in a similar vein.
As for research, yes, I read, read, read. Particularly about the Mafia, Triads, and now the Russian Mafia, which in some shape or form, has ties to nearly every other city in the world.
How long did it take to write your novels? Did anything change much during editing?
It took me a while for Clipped, as I didn’t have a computer, so I bought some notepads from a shop and scribbled the whole book by hand. Then I had the pleasure of basically writing it again when I got a computer, worth it though, I never ever expected anyone to read it. Get some I did in about 6 months. Not much changed during editing for Clipped, it’s as raw as a dirty needle, and I may sound mad but I like it like that, reminds me how I felt at the time. Luckily, I saw sense in the end though and Tim Roux edited ‘Get Some’, as well as gave me some good ideas on making it better. Truth be told I was done after Clipped, to me it was just something to stop me climbing the walls while I was unemployed and at a low point in my life, a few people ( including Tim Roux ) convinced me to do something else and keep writing, and I’m glad I did.
I have heard that you put real people in your novels. Are the characters exactly the same as in real life, or different? Why do you put them in?
They are all lovely people, I kill my cousin Chris in every story, even Tim Roux killed him in his book ‘Missio’. It was because he was nagging me to name the main character after him, so I said ‘I’ll put you in my book’, and killed him in a scene when he was on the toilet. Now I just put random friends in there, or, if someone bugs me at work I tell them they are getting murdered on a page in my book, it makes for some good banter.
Do you make a plan for your novels or do you just write them in whatever order seems right?
Sort of, I think of a beginning, middle, and an end, then the other bits just seem to fall into place. I think once you have an idea it kind of writes its self.
When did you first realise that ‘Get Some’ was going to be a best seller?
I only realised it was doing well when Tim Roux told me, it’s a surprise for sure. When I look at some of the work /first chapters of Night Readings authors I consider myself extremely lucky because I always think their work is better. Just recently I have been reading ‘The Suicide Game’ by Andy Rausch, so far, I have to say it is amazing.
What books or other projects do you have coming up in future, unless they are secret?
I have a few things in the pipeline, one is a book which is called ‘ Close Range’, it is very about a cop going undercover in organised crime, I have tried to include a lot of the so called ‘big boys’, from the extremely dangerous and organised groups like the Triads, and the Red Mafia, to the low level Vietnamese gangs that are operating in certain areas in England at the moment, I have tried to go as deep as I can with this one, and I am taking my time. The other thing which is using all my time is I am giving screen writing a go, I don’t know how it will go, but isn’t that uncertainty the fun part?
It sure is! Best of luck with your new projects and I hope your books continue to be best sellers. Thanks for the interview, I expect you will be in demand for a lot more interviews in future.
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