GAY LONGWORTH ON GAY LONGWORTH

Written by Kirstie Long


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I used to sit opposite a trader who after downing two bottles of claret at his club would repeatedly pop pepto bismal and blow me kisses. Flushed pink and overweight it seemed as if a giant raspberry was blowing raspberries at me - was this a sign? Was I not destined to be a briefcase carrying, oil trading, Amex member after all? Thetrader opposite me was one of fifteen men that I worked with and all of them in their own special way was a raspberry blower. Depressed and disenchanted, I began to write. It seemed the only way to both get out of my life and find some merit in it.
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What started as sketches based on incidences at work became Bimba, my first novel. Though not overnight and not without a major life crisis, an uncomfortable split from a boyfriend and a sudden departure to South East Asia. Finally I settled down in Cornwall, rented a tiny cottage on the edge of Bodmin Moor and tried to take the notion of my being a writer seriously. It is a strange and secluded life writing, and it took a long time to get used to it. For a while I would watch myself go about my daily, solo chores. Making breakfast, looking out of the window as my tea cooled, sitting on a stool with my toast neatly laid out on a plate, all in silence. Now I am completely used to spending the entire day on my own, I almost begrudge interruptions and now that I have a very small child, it is a strange sensation having another person in the house. My, does she make her presence felt. Someone said to me that the two hardest things about having a baby is that suddenly you are waving your husband off to work and that you are then bereft of adult company. Well, hey, I've being doing that for years.
For some reason, the more I wrote the more macabre my writing became. When faced with a junction in the story, I would always take the fork that lead to a more sinister outcome. I do not and hopefully never will consider myself a warped or gloomy person, but there is no doubt that my imagination leans towards 'the dark side'. Even when I was a child, after a day of playing on the stream near my grandparents I would lie in bed and repeat the day's events in my mind. This time I would count how many times one of us could have fallen and drowned. I repeatedly kill off my sisters, my parents, my husband and pretty much anyone who knows me. I do not exclude myself from my deathly imaginings and as a result have attended my own funeral numerous times. Is this strange? Doesn't everyone do this or am I alone in wondering what it would feel like to turn the steering wheel towards the central reservation at ninety miles an hour? I am told that vertigo isn't a fear of heights, it is a fear of what one might do at that height.
When I realised I had a natural tendency to let go of the railings and lean too far over the edge a life of crime seemed the obvious move and although DEAD ALONE is my first fully fledged crime book its predecessors have their dark moments. In Bimba, a young man is beaten up and his assailant urinates over him, corrupt oil traders grind a woman's face into broken glass and a drug dealer smashes a journalists hands with a hammer. Wicked Peace, my second novel, also published by Pan Macmillan, is about the sadomasochistic tendencies of a young woman with ecstasy induced psychosis who plays her two families off against each other with dire consequences. This may sound a little odd, but they are both quite funny in parts. And I suppose that sums up what I like to write about. The juxtaposition of light and dark, ordinary and extraordinary, grim reality and playful humour. I never set out to write a modern classic what I want to do is tell really good stories.
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The new book sees the launch of DI Jessie Driver, a sexy, sassy, leather-clad, motorbike riding bird who happens to work for the murder squad. Some old bones she is sent to investigate turns out to be those of a minor celebrity who only a few days previously was walking up the red carpet of a film premier dressed to kill. People who are famous for being famous are being murdered in such a way that reveals the sordid side of headline hunting. Jessie has to read the clues and stop the murderer but with betting shops taking odds for who will be next, sympathy is not running high for the dead celebs. Baby permitting, the second Jessie Driver novel will be out this year. Talking of babies, it is time to feed, so I will end this here. I hope those of you who read DEAD ALONE enjoy it, I certainly loved writing it, it allowed me to vent my spleen and kill off a few of those pet hates who didn't listen to the fifteen minute rule. Bye.


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Gay Longworth



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