Launching 'No Name Lane'

I’ve had a busy few weeks launching ‘No Name Lane’. My local book shop, Waterstones in St Albans, kindly invited me to sign copies on launch day and we had a bit of a do in the evening at this lovely store, taking over their café and most of the first floor. I got the chance to say thanks to my editor at Penguin, Emad Akhtar, my literary agent, Phil Patterson and my lovely wife, Alison, and very special daughter, Erin for all their support. Our host, Gemma Sealey, gave me a lovely introduction and a lot of great friends kindly came along on the night to raise a few glasses and help me celebrate my first book with Penguin Random House. 

I then went on a tour of the north east where my books are set, signing copies in branches of Waterstones and WH Smiths in Newcastle, Sunderland, Darlington, Northallerton, Durham and the Metro Centre. I met a lot of great people and it was terrific to chat to so many enthusiastic book sellers and readers. The north east public are extremely supportive of local authors and I got a terrific reaction from the folk in County Durham, where ‘No Name Lane’ is set and, in particular, readers in Newcastle, a city that is always in my mind and close to my heart, no matter how bad my beloved Newcastle United are doing (eight defeats in a row at time of writing!). Newcastle Waterstones Emerson Chambers branch had sold out of all of their copies of ‘No Name Lane’ days before I arrived and had to order more in for my signing, which was lovely to hear. The Evening Chronicle, Journal and Northern Echo all kindly ran articles about the new book and I went on the lovely Anna Foster’s show on BBC Radio Newcastle to talk about it too. 

I had a nostalgic evening towards the end of that amazing week when we held a north east launch event in the legendary Strawberry pub right next to St James Park. I have always loved this place, which if you don’t know it, not only serves a fantastic pint but is also a shrine to the club, with framed, signed photographs of NUFC legends all over its walls. I owe a big thank you to owner Michael Hill for allowing us to take over the best pub in Newcastle for a night. We filled the place that evening and I signed lots of books. Actor Dave Nellist, a good friend who provides the authentic Geordie voice of my David Blake audio books, just completed a year-long run starring in the West End production of ‘War Horse’ (or ‘Wor Horse’ as we tell him it should be called) and was back in the city. He kindly gave me a night off by reading extracts from ‘No Name Lane’ live in the pub he worked in as a teenage barman way back in the eighties. It was a fantastic night and one I will never forget.

I was back in Newcastle for a superb event at the beginning of May. ‘Newcastle Noir’ was a weekend of crime fiction, with lots of authors appearing on panels together. I was invited to talk about ‘Northern Landscapes’ along with fellow northern lads and familiar faces; David Mark, Nick Quantrill and Luca Veste, and one Scot, Craig Robertson, who seemed to think we are all actually southerners. Later I had a chance to catch up with fellow, long-suffering Newcastle fan and best-selling author, Mari Hannah, whose terrific books are set in the area. It was good to see Susi Holliday, Eileen Wharton, Mark Billingham and Martyn Waites in the pub afterwards too but, as usual, Martyn and I tried to avoid talking about football as he is a long-suffering Geordie. 

Next stop it’s Crimefest in Bristol for a panel on Saturday 16th May called ‘The Wrong Side of the Law’. If you’re going, I’ll see you in the bar.