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"Clavane’s Promised Land...is one of the hidden gems of 21st-century sportswriting."

Clavane’s Promised Land, his lyrical evocation of a life spent supporting Leeds United FC, is one of the hidden gems of 21st-century sportswriting. The follow-up has a jaunty title that might suggest a Jupp-esque comic monologue, though in fact this is a serious work of history.

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Anthony Clavane for the Independent

`Being funny is like being gay. It's hard to admit to, people think it's odd. You're born that way'

Crime Files discovers what Tom Callaghan would do as the master of Cluedo and who he'd have at his dream dinner party. . .

Q&A with Tom Callaghan

If you were stranded on a desert island and could take one crime novel, one DVD boxset and one character from a crime novel, who/what would you take? ‘The Big Sleep’, ‘The Wire’, Charlie Parker from the John Connolly books. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and what would be on the menu? Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, James Lee Burke, Stephen King, Basil Bunting, Captain Beefheart, Miles Davis. We’d eat Cantonese, steak, vegetarian, Classic Italian, rural French, and lots to drink. But the real answer is a mix of Thai and Vietnamese dishes with my wife Sara and my son Akyl. Are you a hero or a villain? I’d probably be the observer who avoids getting involved, a minor character whose name appears halfway down the credits. What is your favourite line from a film/TV series/book?· What crime novel do you wish you had written? Film: “I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time… to die…” TV series: Bladerunner Book: I would love to have written ‘The Big Sleep’. If your book was being made into a film, who would you want to play the lead character? Ideally, a Kyrgyz actor should play the part of Akyl Borubaev, which would be the opportunity of a lifetime. But if the film were set somewhere else, then you’d want a tough guy who’s also compassionate. Daniel Craig? Where are Bogart and Mitchum when you need them? What’s the scariest place you’ve visited? Peru, in the middle of a civil war. OR Rochdale town centre, on a Saturday night. You are master of cluedo and have any name, weapon and room at your disposal, whodunit and what happened? As I’m the master, I’m taking the game out of Tudor Hall, and placing it in the Kulturny bar in Bishkek. All the rooms have dead gangsters in them, shot, stabbed or poisoned. Whodunit? It’s up to Murder Squad Inspector Akyl Borubaev to find out…

Jessica Cornwell talks about her inspiration for writing her new novel, The Serpent Papers.

Writing The Serpent Papers

When I set out to write a novel, the first thing I encountered in the dark recess of my imagination was a man. His name was Ferran Fons, and he was a lonely, aging, professor at a drama school in Barcelona. Fons had an office window facing the theatre across the courtyard and so he spent the majority of his day staring at an enormous poster hanging from the wall of the building. The poster featured a portrait of a beautiful young woman. Her name – I knew in a flash – was Natalia Hernandez. And very soon she was going to die. In the weeks and months following my discovery of Natalia Hernandez, I found myself writing a mystery. New characters sprang into being – the irascible Inspector Fabregat with his love of rich food and distaste for murder – tormented by the unsolved deaths of four young women, bodies tattooed with cryptic letters, tongues cut from their mouths. Next came Rex Illuminatus: a thirteenth century Majorcan mystic who hid The Serpent Papers beneath an alchemical scrawl, secreting away an ancient manuscript written in the language of witches. Anna Verco presented herself as a young, American academic whose psychic abilities and quest to find the Serpent Papers lead her into the drawing room of Inspector Fabregat… a decade after the murder of Natalia Hernandez. I had not set out to write a thriller, but suddenly I was. Not only that, but I knew, without doubt, upon finding Anna, that I was also writing a trilogy. I read and reread the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While making notes in the margin of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, I repeatedly returned to Wilkie Collin’s The Moonstone and the gothic novels of Horace Walpole and Mary Shelley. I wanted to write a contemporary thriller that had its roots in nineteenth century crime, so I analyzed the structure of the gothic novel, and decided that the first pulp books had evolved into vampire stories and then into serial killer narratives. I set the book in Barcelona’s gothic quarters, with its air of supernatural menace. Amidst the distinct flavor of an old, and violent, fairy tale – I saw Anna Vero driving the action forward. I loved her feminism, her single mindedness, her independence and focus, and how little she wanted to share of herself. Anna takes her lead from The Killing’s Sarah Lund, The Bridge’s Saga Norén (with whom I am completely obsessed) and Lisbeth Salander – the queens of Scandi Noir – but she’s also a very different interpretation of the genre’s damaged ‘woman detective’ or female protagonist. She blends the supernatural and the hyper-real, and in that way I think she’s quite original – and genre-bending. She also consistently surprises me, leading me on unexpected adventures into Palaeography courses at Senate House in London, the Manuscript room at the British Library, and up rocky Majorcan trails in the pouring rain. Throughout, Anna Verco remains deliciously, autonomously her own.

Peter May tells us all about what led him to write his latest book, Runaway.

Peter May - my inspiration for Runaway

Peter May tells us all about what led him to write his latest book, Runaway.

Peter May tells us all about what led him to write his latest book, Runaway.

Peter May - my inspiration for Runaway

The story itself, obviously, drew its inspiration from the real runaway events, which actually took place in 1969. The characters drew their inspiration from different sources. Jack is partially based on myself. “Jobby” Jeff was loosely based on our then drummer, whose almost every sentence was punctuated by the word “jobbies”. Luke Sharp took his name from a childhood friend of my father (what were his parents thinking of), and his circumstance from another of my father’s friends called Johnny Main. Johnny’s parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses and had dragged him around the doors with them for years. He ran away to the south when he was fifteen and never came back. But my father never lost touch with him, and I remember visiting him in Kent on a trip to France in the 1980s. Maurie’s Jewish background was based on my experiences of virtually growing up with Stephen and his family, and the whole community of Glasgow south-side Jews which existed during my childhood. And Dave was loosely based on a friend whose acquaintance I made during my short time at the DNS. He was hugely into music, and we would often meet at the Maryland Blues Club, in Scott Street, beside the Art School. However, cannabis was his predilection, rather than drink. The character of Dr. Cliff Robert was partly based on a very creepy manager we once had in Glasgow, but took his name from The Beatles’ song, “Dr. Robert”, which was the fictitious name The Beatles used for the doctor who provided them, and many other stars of the mid-sixties, with drugs. The character of Rachel, really, is the embodiment of that person we all fall madly in love with at some point in our lives, but are destined (for any number of reasons) never to be with. The Victoria Hall, where they boys find employment improvising dramas for an experimental community of mental patients, took its inspiration from the Kingsley Hall experiment run in the mid-to-late sixties by the famous Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing. There are two unusual coincidences in that. My wife, it transpired, was at school with R.D. Laing’s son, who later went on to write the definitive biography of his father. And it also turned out that R.D. Laing and myself were both trained to play the piano at the Ommer School of Music in Glasgow. To create and describe the authentic atmosphere surrounding events in the (fictitious) Victoria Hall, I was able to purchase online access to rare footage taken during the actual Kingsley Hall experiment. I also read several of R.D. Laing’s books, as well as the biography written by his son, along with an account of her time there written by the Kingsley Hall’s most famous resident, Mary Barnes, and her psychiatrist Joe Berke. I also visited the hall itself, which is still there, although all boarded up now. To get the detail right, I made the return journey of the old boys myself last year – through the Lake District and Leeds, to London, and all the locations there where the action takes place. I also did extensive research on the year 1965, including tracking down an original AA 1965 road map of Britain which I bid for on eBay, to fill in the gaps in my own memory. One particularly interesting location that I tracked down was the spot, behind the Savoy Hotel, where, in the spring of 1965, Bob Dylan shot the iconic video for his song “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and I had the boys witnessing the filming of it in the book. I took a photograph of myself in the very spot where Dylan had stood discarding his large lyric cue cards. The Merchants’ Tavern, which appears at the end of the book, is a real restaurant to be found in Charlotte Road in Shoreditch, London. It is owned by celebrity chef, Angela Hartnet, and the chef is her partner, Neil Borthwick, a young Scotsman whom I met when he was No.2 to the top chef in France, Michel Bras, and I spent time in Bras’s kitchen researching another book.

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My Journey To Feminism

Teen author Louise O’Neill was 15 when she first used the F-word and called herself a feminist – but didn’t understand what it meant and remained ashamed of the parts of herself that were female, here’s her story and why she wrote Only Ever Yours

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