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