As if he hasn’t already earned enough good karma for the baddest Scouse bastard going with Off The Record, this month sees Luca Veste release another charity anthology for child literacy, in collaboration with Paul D. Brazill. True Brit Grit features contributions from forty-five of the darkest and dirtiest Brit crime authors around right now, and at less than two quid you’d have to be an animal not to buy it.
Luca’s dropped by to tell us a bit more about it…
So, how are things progressing with the Luca Veste Centre for Kids Who Don’t Read Good?
Great! We have a chair with three legs and a collection of old copies of the Readers Digest now. Hopefully we’ll get a roof for the shed we meet in soon. Been tough with all the rain, not enough armbands to share around.
Serious answer, Off The Record has raised over £200 since December. Happy with that, but would like that total to keep rising.
After going solo with Off The Record you’ve collaborated with Paul D Brazill on this one, I bet he’s a tyrant, he is, isn’t he? Go on, you can tell us.
(sniffs) He…he…calls me names. Like…Beardy, and String Vest. It’s horrible.
I can’t lie, Paul is one of the best. It’s impossible to find anyone who doesn’t respect and like the bloke. He’s a great guy, who I’m honoured to call a mate.
Dude can write as well. Seriously great writer.
The line-up for True Brit Grit is seriously impressive, how did you and Paul go about gathering contributors? Blackmail, bribery, threats to insert things in places they shouldn’t be inserted?
I can’t take any credit. It was all Paul’s work on that front. He must have a list of writers he has the goods on, and just works his way through. I just had to make sure the book did the names involved justice, which I hope it does.
Which reminds me…he still hasn’t sent those pictures back…
It’s an interesting mix of big names and bubblers-under, did you make a conscious effort to try and bridge the gap?
I think the idea with this was always to show the quality of writers out there in the U.K. So, whilst we have big names in there, there’s quite a few lesser known ones in there, and taking away the names, I think it’s difficult to see the difference in quality of writing.
In the introduction Maxim Jakubowski puts the Golden Age of crime fiction firmly in it’s place. Do you see the Brit Grit school becoming dominant finally?
I think for crime fiction, it’s very difficult to beat a good British writer. With the rise of ebooks, it’s proved to be a great platform for the less commercial gritty writers out there to make a mark.
Also, I think Brit writers are getting quite a few fans over in the US as well, which can only be a good thing. Shows there can be a wider audience for those types of stories.
Crime is a universal language anyway. Doesn’t really matter about the setting, every country has similar characters about the place.
Ever tempted to write a cat mystery? Maybe do an anthology of cosies…
An anthology of cat mysteries…now there’s a thought.
Cosies aren’t really my thing. I like death too much. It’s far too interesting to not write about. And death is so horrific, I could never treat it with kid gloves.
I want to do an anthology where every writer writes in a genre they have never written in before. Ray Banks doing a Lee Child style story. That would be cool!
Child literacy is obviously a cause close to your heart; which books fired your reading as a kid?
Enid Blyton at first. Moved onto fellow Scouser Brian Jacques and his Redwall series. Then, I was about 12 at the time, I convinced my Dad to let me read The Stand by Stephen King. Still my favourite book.
I stopped reading anything around the age of 16-17. Then was recommended a Mark Billingham book (his first one, Sleepyhead) about 6-7 years later. Haven’t stopped reading since.
Stav Sherez put it perfectly for me (earlier today in fact) “That’s the thing I love about books, the way they can pull you out of your day to somewhere totally different & make you forget who you are.” That’s exactly how it was for me as a kid. And still continues to be now.
And who’s doing it for you now?
Obvious answer (and always mentioned, and will continue to be for a long, long time) Steve Mosby. I got a sneak peek of his upcoming book ‘Dark Room’. An incredible novel, and his best yet. He’s a remarkable writer, paints intricate pictures with just a few words. Even though I’ve become friendly with him in the past year, reading his stuff just makes me go all fanboy.
Other than Mosby…Helen FitzGerald, Neil White, Mark Billingham, Ian Ayris, Nick Quantrill, Sean Cregan, Les Edgerton, Julie Morrigan, Harlan Coben, Tim Weaver, Dennis Lehane, Will Carver, Tom Wood, Howard Linskey, Ray Banks…I could go on and on. So many good writers working today. We’re very lucky as readers.
If there was one contributor you’d love to get next time around, who would it be?
Sean Cregan aka John Rickards. A fantastic writer, who everyone should be reading.
Never asked him as I have no idea if he even writes short stories, and the dude seems to be constantly busy. Next one, I’m just going to ask. Fuck it, he can only say no.
Or, choke me in my sleep. I’ve heard stories…