William Shaw

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William Shaw

Before becoming a crime writer, William Shaw was a music journalist and the author of several non-fiction books including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine.

William started out as assistant editor of the post-punk magazine ZigZag, and has been a journalist for The Observer, The New York Times, Wired, Arena and The Face.

His trilogy of detective books is set in late 1960s London against the cultural and political revolution of the times, and features DS Cathal Breen and young constable Helen Tozer. A Song from Dead Lips was picked by Time Out as one of the crime books of 2013.


Interviewed 26 September 2015

Ten words to sum up your working life to date ...

As a journalist I never made stuff up; now, though…

Nine things you can see from where you're sitting ...

1. One of the tallest surviving Elm trees in the UK
2. A business card from a piano player I gigged with once
3. A copy of Groovy Bob by Harriet Vyner
4. A red Tonka crane.
5. Jane McMorrow
6. A plane ticket to Dublin
7. A photo I took in Nigeria when I was 11
8. A half-written novel
9. Bills

Eight minutes to prepare a meal. What's it going to be ?

Grilled tomatoes with olive oil, rosemary and garlic on sourdough bread.

Seven people you'd like to go for a drink with ...

1. Robert Fraser, 1960s gallerist
2. Ken Bruen. Again.
3. Writer Alan Warner
4. Dorothy Parker
5. Tom Hibbert
6. Salt
7. … n’ Pepa. In all my years as a music journalist meeting mad people, the nicest, sanest people I ever met.

Six things you can't live without ...

1. A musical instrument
2. A bike
3. A laptop
4. My glasses
5. A enduring belief that I’m an undiscovered genius
6. A family tolerant enough to live with someone who believes they’re an undiscovered etc.

Five favourite words ...

1. Sláinte
2. Skål
3. Salut
and of course
4. Advance
and
5. Royalties

Four places you'd run away to ...

1. Kerry
2. My secret shack
3. Biriwa, on Ghanian coast
4. Marche in Italy

Three books you've bought recently ...

The Detective’s Daughter by Lesley Thomson
I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths

Two things that make you rant ...

1. Funnily enough, I do a monthly gig called Rant with Brighton Ceilidh Collective. [http://www.meetup.com/TheRant/]
2. Shouty drivers

One thing you'd tell your teenage self ...

When you go to Stonehenge Free Festival in 1981 and somebody offers you the blotting paper, don’t take it.