In­spi­ra­tion came to this writer in a sleep­less night


JOSEPH Knox, Sun­day Times best­selling au­thor of the lit­er­ary crime thrillers Sirens and The Smil­ing Man, vis­ited Middleton Junc­tion Li­brary and Com­mu­nity Cen­tre to talk about his writ­ing and sign copies of his books.

The af­ter­noon event was well at­tended and, fol­low­ing his talk, the au­di­ence en­joyed a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion with the au­thor.

Knox, who grew up in Stoke and Manch­ester, spoke of his life­long bat­tle with in­som­nia which started when he was a child. His par­ents had sought to fill his sleep­less nights with books and later with note­books and pens with which to write his own sto­ries.

It was not un­til he was older, while at­tend­ing a mys­te­ri­ous party at the house of an anony­mous per­son, that Knox had the idea for the novel Sirens.

He im­me­di­ately rushed home, wrote the idea down and thought: “This is it. One year from now I will have a novel.”

It did not work out quite like that, how­ever. Eight years of tire­less draft­ing and re­draft­ing was to fol­low, even­tu­ally re­sult­ing in a best­selling de­but novel with trou­bled young po­lice de­tec­tive Ai­dan Waits and a dis­ap­pear­ing girl at its cen­tre.

Knox de­scribes his pro­tag­o­nist Waits as some­one who ‘does the right thing al­ways in the wrong way’.

The Smil­ing Man, the sec­ond novel in what read­ers an­tic­i­pate will be­come a se­ries, took Knox two years to write and takes up where the first book left off. Like the first novel, it is a fast paced Manc noir de­light which, although set in the dark and gritty world of crime, also holds some ap­peal for read­ers who are not nor­mally drawn to the genre.

This time Waits finds him­self per­pet­u­ally as­signed to the night shift with the un­for­tu­nately named De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Peter Sut­cliffe, known to his col­leagues as Sutty.

The pair­ing is clev­erly ac­ces­sorised with dry Man­cu­nian hu­mour. The nar­ra­tive fol­lows sev­eral plot lines which in­clude the discovery of a body and re­venge porn.

Ev­ery other chap­ter re­vis­its two un­known, al­most Dick­en­sian char­ac­ters.

Knox said it was his hope that each plot line would, ‘re­ver­ber­ate against the other in dif­fer­ent ways’.

Au­thor Ian Rankin de­scribed The Smil­ing Man as ‘gritty as hell’.

If the re­views are any­thing to go by, those who left the event car­ry­ing copies of the nov­els could be des­tined to join Knox in some sleep­less nights.

Joseph Knox speak­ing to the au­di­ence at Mid­dle­ton Junc­tion Li­brary

Joseph Knox’s books

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