The Crime Genre has always had an inordinate number of cool gum shoe detectives who solve the case, kill the bad guy and get the girl. So much so the whole genre has almost become a parody of itself. The majority of writers seem quite content to pump out the same tired old tropes over and over again. Which is something I’ve tried to avoid in my own novels.
Trevor Wood is another author who strives to reinvent the crime novel. He’s an author who brings a completely fresh perspective to the genre with narratives and protagonists that are innovative whilst also shedding light on the struggles of the homeless population in the UK.
If you haven’t read anything by the CWA Dagger winner, I suggest you get started today. But before you do, check out this interview to find out more about what the man is all about.
Thanks a lot for agreeing for a quick interview with Punk Noir Mag Trevor. To kick things off, can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?
I’d co-written around a dozen plays but despite some of them doing pretty well it was getting harder and harder to get new work on. Most theatres are council-funded and with government cutbacks their budgets were being slashed and new productions have a lot of up-front costs. I was spending so much time trying to be a producer as well as a writer that I eventually had enough and decided to try and write a crime novel instead. Not exactly the easy option but at least I was writing. After my first attempt failed to get any interest – aside from one dodgy agent I eventually discarded – I did the inaugural MA in Crime Fiction at UEA and The Man on the Street was developed there.
You’re best known for your most recent novel The Man on the Street. How did that novel come into fruition and what were your inspirations for that story?
Most of the plays I’d written and the failed crime novel were comedic and I didn’t see much point in doing an MA and staying within my writing comfort zone. My reading preferences had always been towards the grittier end of crime fiction so instead of ‘write what you know’ I thought I’d try ‘write what you’d like to read.’ I read a shedload of James Ellroy and David Peace to try and absorb some darker elements and eventually came up with the idea of making my protagonist a homeless man who sees a murder. Some early research unearthed a stat that around 10% of the homeless were ex-servicemen and I’d been in the navy for 16 years so that was my way in. To build on that I started volunteering at a homeless kitchen in Newcastle, where the book is set, and I’m still there now, cooking up a storm every Tuesday afternoon.
What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?
Two things. Make sure you’re writing the best book you possibly can. Don’t take your own word for that. Find readers you can trust and who aren’t afraid to offer constructive criticism (not your mum!) You don’t have to accept everything they say but different perspectives will improve your work tenfold.
Secondly, I think that the one quality most relatively successful authors share is persistence. There’s not a writer out there who hasn’t had countless rejections, in one form or another, but they kept going. You only need a couple of champions to get your work to a wider audience and if it’s good enough you will find them eventually. You might have to kiss a lot of frogs but ultimately it’s worth it.
What are your plans for the future?
Ha! I’m too old to plan too far ahead! I originally wrote The Man on the Street as a standalone but it somehow morphed into a trilogy. The second book in the series, One Way Street, is now out in hardback and the third, Dead End Street, is done and dusted and due out in Jan 2020. I’m currently writing a standalone thriller set in a remote part of Northumberland and after that I have absolutely no clue. I’ve spent a lot of time in Canada over the last 20 years or so and my daughter is studying out there – might be fun to move out to Vancouver for a while and see if I could write a crime novel set there though the research seems daunting and I’d need to check out the competition first.
What is an issue you care about deeply?
Since starting to write the books I’ve become absorbed with homeless issues. It’s an outrage that the wealthiest countries have basically ignored the problems for years. I try to do everything I can to promote any cause that helps those unfortunate enough to live on the streets. The People’s Kitchen, where I volunteer is a brilliant charity that now feeds over 200 people every day and I’m also a big fan of Street Paws, who look after homeless people’s pets and Invisible Cities who train former homeless people as tour guides.
Sadly, as I seem to be living under the most obscenely right-wing government in my long lifetime, it’s hard to see things in improving in the near future.
What novel are you reading now?
I’m hugely enjoying True Story by Kate Reed Petty. I do love writers who play around with the genre and explore the use of different mediums to tell a story. Technically it reminds me of King of the Crows by Russell Day, which was hands down my favourite book of 2020.
What music are you listening to now?
I’m a huge music fan and despite my advanced age (I’m 63) I try very hard to keep up with new bands on the scene. Thankfully I have a lot of like-minded friends so get lots of tips. My favourite newish bands from the last few years are She Drew The Gun (a genuinely great political band), Porridge Radio and W.H. Lung. I’m a big fan of the Aussie band Gang of Youths too though they’ve been around a bit longer than the others. The National and The XX are never far from bursting out of my speakers either.
What did you last eat?
I love cooking, it’s my way of winding down after a day’s writing. I made Moussaka last night.
If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?
James Ellroy, Hunter S Thompson, Elmore Leonard, Dennis Lehane and my friend from the UEA MA Harriet Tyce, to make sure that at least someone would talk to me
What would you like written on your gravestone?
He never stopped trying
Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for 25 years and considers himself an adopted Geordie, though he still can’t speak the language. He’s a successful playwright who has also worked as a journalist and spin-doctor for the City Council. … Trevor holds an MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) from UEA.
Stephen J. Golds
Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.
He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.
He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once, Cut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.