Archive for October, 2011

A big thank you to Terence Handley McMath a thought provoking interview for your national publication I look forward to seeing it in the coming days. In the meantime heres an excerpt from it

You take ‘the Little Book of…’ idea into hard reality – did you do this to
reach the sort of people who only read that kind of book?

The title came to me on day 2 of going into HMP I wanted it to be a guide book for first offenders and something that would be read by a wider audience. I think it will appeal to people who enjoy reading and have an interest in prison. If people want to know what prison is like its for them, if people need to know what happens in prison it’s definitely for them.

What was your own experience of prison life?

I always relish a challenge, I like new life experiences but this was extreme, I kept
my ears open and my mouth shut. Nothing prepared me for prison it was a nervous and dangerous learning curve, I put a  front on which I was sure everyone could see through. I had to stay mentally strong  the book helped me to stay focused.

What were the worst things about it?

Missing my children, letting my family down and hurting my wife so badly.  My eldest was 6yrs 7 months it effected her the most her crying into mummy’s arms
holding a photo of daddy. My wife had to watch our little angel suffer helpless to mend the situation.

Why did you decide to write the book?

Sanity, I could not believe I was in Prison, I had to try and make sense of it and
writing down the process was a saving grace. It was pure humility I thought “well I’m here now lets do something constructive”. It felt good to be writing something that would help others and in doing so helped myself.

Please tell me about winning the award. What is the award?  What do you think the judges were looking for? Where did your writing ability come from? Is it easy or do you have to work at it?

The Koestler Trust is a prison arts charity in its 50th year I came across it as the library orderly it was a pull out in Inside Time the national prison newspaper. I was already well into writing the book but it gave me a deadline to work to which kept me focused on the harder days (especially after a visit) I saw there was a section for writing and a section for non-fiction.

They had the theme HELP for the 2011 awards judged by Jeremy Paxton, I sent the book in under that guise. Fortunately they didn’t enter it there and Will Self judged my category and gave me the Platinum Award. I had always been keen on writing stories I wrote my first book at 9 about a Caveman, won creative writing competitions at junior school then lost interest when girls came along.

I started again in 2005, 18yrs later when I began commuting for the first time into central London. The project The Commuter Times.Com was my obsession I spent thousands on the website, trade exhibitions and vanity publishing but it did not get to market. (If at first you don’t succeed try try again as they say) I have always worked well under pressure and there’s no question that the book was written whilst under extreme pressure.

What did you learn in prison?

I wrote 5 golden rules in the book

1 Keep your head down, do your bird, ride out your bang up

2 Its nice to be nice, be positive, entertain and see the bright side

3 Don’t believe everything you hear in HMP

4 Pay your bills if you borrow

5 Never lose your cool

You can see the full interview in Church Times November edition www.churchtimes.co.uk , 80,000 copies distributed nation wide

A massive thank you to Will Self who gave LBP the platinum award for non-fiction my thanks to you Will it is much appreciated you only have to look at his web site http://will-self.com/ to see how much he has achieved I hope to follow in some of his footsteps….

It was great to meet all the wonderful people at NOTSHUTUP and The Writers In Prison Network. I was completely blown away by the talented writers present and still behind bars it was a real honour to be invited to read and excerpt from LBP.

Couldn’t help but try to live up to my mission to be the most promotable author of 2012 by printing all my details of the book the Koestler Platinum award the blog address and twitter account for the audience who were kind enough to take my card. I was even more surprised by the well wishers after I had read as I was on last and always think I should have done this or that better. I appreciate all your positive feedback thank you to you all.

I had time to look at the exhibition and found some excellent potential collaborators for the jacket cover. I have the idea of collaborating with one of my fellow prisoners who also won a Koestler Award for their artistic pieces, will get onto Vikki at Koestler and see if she can help me with this.

Looking forward to being back at the Southbank next week Sat Nov 5th  with my daughter and Dad to receive the award something positive for them to see me doing for once!!

When I sent the email off to Lord Archer I hoped it would get into his in tray and over the next few weeks I might be lucky enough to get a response. Well the day after I get a direct email congratulating me on the koestler award and retweeting the blog to his 5000 followers. Thank you me Lord I hope I can sell as many copies of LBP as you did with your prison diaries series http://www.jeffreyarcher.co.uk/site/buy_books

I love twitter….I read Howard Marks Mr Nice while I was in HMPX it was escapisium for me then came across the second book Senor Nice. I sent a link to this blog listing details of what LBP has achieved so far and within 3o mins he sends a message back….a pat on the back from Mr Nice himself!.

He’s on tour at the minute http://howardmarks.name/ but have said I will email him with a 7000 word diary I wrote in Nepal for inclusion in his next book Tripping…….would love to collaborate…will keep you updated.

A massive thank you to Pat Jones Director at Prison Education Trust and Nina Champion her right hand lady, see their great work at http://www.prisonerseducation.org.uk/  I am thrilled to have the Little Book of Prison article in their 8 page pull out inside the national newspaper Inside Time http://www.insidetime.org/index.asp 60,000 copies going out in November helping the LBP mission.

Apologies to Colin Matthews we are still working on the book jacket so you are stuck with my mugshot…not a pretty sight!

Another great bit of news for the Little Book of Prison mission…….

“To be the fastest growing, most award-winning, most published and best selling comic authored non-fiction in the UK” 

…..its a big ask but as Leonardo Divinci once said in some recently translated text “Aim for the Moon and if you miss you are still amoungst the stars!!” Or was it the library orderly at HMPX?……….

So a big thank you to John Baird, Chair of New Writers UK, I am delighted to be a guest speaker in 2012