What books are currently on your nightstand?
== I have a kindle. Just finished reading ‘High Rollers’ by Jack Bowman. I think I’ll take the ferry after reading that.
What is the last great book you’ve read?
== erm…‘The Human Stain’ by Phillip Roth.
What moves you most in a work of literature? In music?
== Escape. To be transported.
What 3 authors are you most drawn to?
I am drawn to scores of great authors. I loved John Updike and Dickens, Henry Miller growing up. I admire the modern big hitters: Donna Tartt, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan etc.
What kind of reader were you as a child? What were your favorite books?
== I devoured everything. I’ve had to have a book with me for as long as I can remember.
Who are your favorite literary heroes?
== Sam Spade and ‘Boris’ in The Goldfinch.
If you could have one book on a high school curriculum, what would it be?
== Probably ‘Catcher In The Rye’…pretty sure it is a curriculum staple. I left school at 15 so I don’t know.
Why was that?
== I was expelled from school at 14, actually. I was working at 15. I was a very angry and disruptive child. I came from a violent family. I simply couldn’t cope with school. I write about it all in Mud Sharks.
What was it like as a teenager in West London at that time?
= I grew up in Hackney, so that’s north/east London. As a teenager I was bullied and battered at home and in school, but I had the music of the glam rock, tamla motown and dub reggae to keep me sane. I had books too. I loved reading. Then I found the drums and my real family, the musicians I’ve been so honoured to work with.
I feel self-conscious talking about my childhood. It was easier to create a character that suffered these indignities in my book, than talk about them myself.
Mat Johnson. I was at a VONA Voices faculty reading and this dude read a short story about a guy trying to start a career “henching” – working as a henchman for some low-level wannabe supervillain. It was hilarious and violent. I was like, “Word? This is a thing?” So I read a bunch of Mat and eventually met him and did a workshop with him. Mat took a lot of time reading Knucklehead and giving me feedback that was absolutely priceless. He helped me take the book to the next level. This all would not be happening without his mentorship.
Congratulations on your new novel, Mud Sharks. How much of this book would you say is autobiographical?
== It’s a book about my childhood, school days and early years in the punk scene. It’s a fabricated story based on true events…a novel. That make sense?
What inspired you to write Mud Sharks?
== I just felt it rising up. I wanted to explain to my children why I was like I am.
Mud Sharks deals with many issues pertinent today, such as racism. How do you think the problem of racism has evolved or devolved since you were a teenager in in London?
== It has been a lot less blatant since I was a kid at school. Sadly, it is raising its pug ugly head again…maybe not in the black v white way it did in the 70’s, but in an insidious cultural sense. Troubling.
What things if any, socio-economic, human, political, media do you think exacerbate racism?
== Always fear and poverty.
Do you think music and art can be used to combat racism?
== I think that all art can touch the most unreasonable person, and from there, melt their hearts and deliver them amazing grace.
You’ve quite a career as a musician, Adam and the Ants, Bow Bow Wow. . .were you a writer all this time as well? Journals, short stories or the like?
== No, never dabbled. I came off a world tour playing the drums for Republica and said, ‘right, that’s enough of that, time to write!’, sort of.
What were your musical influences growing up?
== Too many to say. I love all music…I love all writing. It’s quality I’m into. I’m that sort of a bloke.
Whom would you want to write your life story?
== Paul Hawksby (Talk Sport presenter)
What do you plan to read next?
== Don’t know. Exciting!
Do you have any signings or events coming up?
== I’m appearing at The Dublin Castle next Wednesday 7th at the ‘Rock and Roll book club’ where I’ll be interviewed and read from my novel Mud Sharks. I’ll also play a little drum solo.