Today I’m returning to an interview I conducted with Ross Greenwood as his novel Lazy Blood is rebranded by Bloodhound Books with a fabulous new cover. Lazy Blood is available for purchase in e-book here.
It’s always a pleasure when I encounter a local author and when I discovered that Ross Greenwood lives less than 15 miles away from me I had to invite him on to Linda’s Book Bag to tell me a little bit about his debut novel Lazy Blood. Luckily Ross agreed to be interviewed.
Drifting through Life? Beware.
Coasting through life, Will paid little attention to the decisions he made or the consequences of his actions. From his prison cell, after a casual descent into serious crime threatens to destroy everything, he finally understands. He had it all, he just didn’t know it.
Looking back over thirty years Lazy Blood is a laugh-out-loud story of the drama of love, the endurance of friendship, the frailty of life and how they can all be ruined by broken people, random events and idle choices.
An Interview with Ross Greenwood
Hi Ross. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your book ‘Lazy Blood’.
Firstly, please could you imagine we are on a one minute speed date and tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a 42 year old that has taken a year or so out to write a couple of books and share the child care. I did 4 years in the prison service recently and before that had a large variety of jobs for a short time before getting a travel bug in my late twenties and kept flitting about. So I came to fatherhood quite late and have two children under 6. I sometimes dream about sleep.
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I started this 5 years ago but it wasn’t until I got started again last March that I decided ‘Right I’m going to see this through.’ I had some great help from friends and colleagues who read the book as I went along and helped with the never-ending search for typos. It was them who encouraged me to publish it as they had never read a book quite like it.
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
I’ve always wanted to be a travel writer, but I suspect my partner might have something to say about me skipping off on free holidays!
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
I have mostly written about themes I know; travelling, the prison, school life etc. so it should be very realistic. Prison is very different to how people think it is. My last job in the prison was in resettlement so I had hundreds of 1-2-1’s with prisoners (residents as we are now supposed to call them!!) and got a real feel for their fears and motivations. I also knew I was leaving 6 months before I did so I questioned many on their issues with addiction. All were happy to do it, and their drives and causes are fascinating but will be shocking to many. The lack in value some have of their own lives is astounding. There is also a strong sense of helplessness in that they want to change but don’t know where to look for help and don’t have the skillset to do it themselves. We often lock up the most vulnerable and just the mere process of being taken out of your life leaves you an enormous hill to climb upon release. I have quite a diverse range of friends too, so anything I was not confident about I ran past them.
There are only a few chapters in the prison setting, it is really a book about growing up and how people face the challenges they are presented with. There are some great reviews on amazon for people to read which can give them a bit more insight.
(Blog readers can see those reviews here)
I know you have first-hand experience of the prison service (not as a prisoner I hasten to add). How did this influence your setting for ‘Lazy Blood’?
I had the idea of the book for a long time but I was struggling for a dramatic start and finish. One of the main aspects of working in that environment is that you are exposed to complete extremes. Some people live lives that are so chaotic and crazy it is sometimes hard to believe. Ideas galore!
How far do you think the travel you’ve done has influenced your writing?
That’s probably how I started. When Hotmail first became popular I was travelling in South East Asia and started to do a group email to keep friends and family up to date. They all loved it, and some of them said I should write a book. I was a founder-blogger, I just didn’t realise it!
Again with travelling you are exposed to a lot of people, very quickly and in some strange environments. Meeting different, interesting people is one of the best aspects of travelling.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
When writing from personal experience I found it just rolled out of me. I could do 5000 words a day. Sitting down and getting on with it is the hardest now. Facebook is a deadly invention for the stay-at-home author.
(Facebook and twitter are pretty deadly for bloggers too actually Ross!)
I know you wrote ‘Lazy Blood’ in the early hours of the morning while nursing a baby. What are your writing routines now and where do you do most of your writing?
I finished the book between March and September and found I was really productive before 7 a.m. Everyone is asleep and I really got into the zone. I haven’t found it as easy in the winter as it is cold and dark, so I have taken to sitting in the dining room between 8.30 a.m. and 1 p.m. My productivity has definitely dipped so maybe I will get back to those 4 a.m. starts, although I do get complaints then as I’m not very lively after about 8 p.m. and liable to nod off!
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I will literally read anything. I used to read the breakfast cereal boxes when I was little. I love sitting down with a good book and some sweets or a plate of sandwiches. It’s nasty for my waistline. Recently I’ve read some Nick Alexander, Nick Spalding, Jimmy Boyle and I still have Anna Karenina on the go. It’s been about a year and I’m about 400 pages in. The first few chapters were excellent and began to see what all the fuss was about but I’m finding it incredibly gruelling now.
(Oh you have to continue with Anna Karenina – I loved it!)
Why did you set the book ‘Lazy Blood’ in Peterborough?
A big theme of the book is that the friends you meet at school tend to stay with you throughout your life. Also the fact that even if you move away; uni, job, travelling etc you tend to get drawn back to your home town, often when things have gone wrong. So this is a story of four friends and how they keep coming back to Peterborough and each other. Peterborough is not perfect but it gets a lot of bad press, so I wanted to help put our City on the map and write a cracking story which also shows Peterborough as a good place to live.
If you could chose to be a character from ‘ Lazy Blood’, who would you be and why?
I would have to be Will as there are some semi-autobiographical parts in it. Obviously I haven’t been as mischievous as Will.
If ‘Lazy Blood’ became a film, who would you like to play the characters?
Tom Hardy would play the character Darren. That would be a good fit. Will is a bit trickier. Perhaps Andrew Garfield who played Spiderman – a man with strength but also a little vulnerable. Carl would definitely be one of the In-Betweeners. Aiden would be the brother from Everybody Loves Raymond as I can’t think of another actor like that. You would have to hope he could do a good English accent.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that ‘Lazy Blood’ should be their next read, what would you say?
Funny, shocking, sad. This book will blow you away. The eBook is just £1.99 too!
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Ross.
Readers can find out more about Ross and Lazy Blood on Ross’s Facebook page and his web site where you’ll find more about the setting and places featured in Lazy Blood. You can also follow Ross on Twitter.