Kerry Wilkinson has been busy since turning thirty. His first Jessica Daniel novel, Locked In, was a number one ebook bestseller, while the series as a whole has sold one million copies.
He has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults, a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus the standalone thriller, Down Among the Dead Men.
Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like 'barm' and 'ginnel'.
I’ve never had a real job.
I mean, I have had real jobs - I'm not a Member of Parliament - but never anything that's nine til five Monday to Friday.
When I was a teenager, I did overnight shifts in a factory moving sprinkler heads from one box to another. I worked on a production line in a yoghurt factory, putting lids on pots and then pots in boxes. Occasionally I put boxes on crates. All important stuff.
While at university, I did call centre work, spending a vast majority of my weekends trying to figure out the best way to prank my boss. I was really good at that. Signing him up for a free sex toy catalogue and listing the work address was probably a step too far. I occasionally made some phone calls as well.
In my pre-author days of being a sports journalist, working weekends and Bank Holidays were the norm. I actually quite liked it. As everyone else rushed around shopping, being stuck in car parks, or getting soaked on various hikes, I was sitting inside watching football on the TV - and getting paid.
Even in recent years, while I was a freelancer, I'd volunteer for Boxing Day shifts or something on New Year's Eve.
Perhaps all that is why I find the week between Christmas and New Year so intrinsically odd. It's never been a holiday for me.
But I do like the idea of one week a year where the entire country throws its collective hands up and declares, 'Nah, I can't be arsed.'
It's like a week of Sunday mornings. Like being Boris Johnson for seven days but with fewer lies to make up.
All of which brings me to my latest novel, No Place Like Home.
I was in Manchester in the winter of 2013. If you're wondering, it's cold and frequently wet. There's a certain charm to the city after dark, however. For the past few years, Manchester has hosted a Christmas market. It was novel at first, something different. It's now as original as those damned Downfall videos with 'hilarious' Hitler subtitles. Or that meme with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It was funny the first time…
But I digress.
Winter in Manchester is cosy wooden Christmasy huts, a giant Santa on the Town Hall, twinkling lights everywhere, a public ice rink - and all the other fancy stuff.
I was on a Christmas party with my colleagues in 2013, definitely not drunk, when I realised what a great setting this would all be for a book. With the markets, Christmas itself, and that weird week before New Year, there's a lot that can happen.
Despite how shiny the redeveloped Manchester is, there are still cobbled back streets, dark spots near the canal, neglected estates, creaky tram lines - and so on.
I wanted to write something that reflects a modern city. To a visitor, it’s all glass fronts and Starbuck’s; to those that live it, who breathe it, there’s a whole underworld, often hidden in plain sight.
No Place Like Home is hopefully that book.
It’s the story of two lads and a girl who grew up together as teenagers. Their early lives were riddled with poverty and trouble. Having not seen each other in thirteen years, they come together as adults in the city where they grew up. Manchester has changed – but so have they.
There’s a part of it that is quite personal. I grew up on a council estate literally half a lifetime ago. I’ve moved, I’ve travelled, I’ve met new people, married, had different jobs – and so on. I’m different. And yet, beneath it all, there’s still a council estate kid who grew up with clothes from a second-hand shop.
There’s a big part of that in the lead character, Craig.
Our similarities pretty much end there, however.
Within hours of Craig being back in Manchester, his parents’ house is attacked by debt collectors. From there, he has to choose which version of him is real. The liberal member of the metropolitan elite, or the council estate tinderbox?
That dynamic is something I find fascinating.
Manchester and Christmas are the wrapping but it’s the characters who are, hopefully, what’s important.
I hope that anyone who’s ever returned home after a time away, who have met old friends having not seen them in years, will associate with Craig.
Out on November 3, 2016 and, if nothing else, can give you something to do in that week between Christmas and New Year. I guarantee it's better than a traffic jam.
Published: 3 November 2016
£7.99 pbk £2.99 Kindle
Read Adrian Magson's review here