It gives me great pleasure to welcome back Ross Greenwood to Linda’s Book Bag today to celebrate the publication of The Boy Inside. Ross is a local author to me and I had the privilege of interviewing him almost a year ago when his first novel Lazy Blood was published. You can read that interview here.
The Boy Inside was published by Bloodhound Books on 7th February 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here. In celebration of The Boy Inside, Ross has agreed to tell me what’s been happening in the year since he was on Linda’s Book Bag.
The Boy Inside
How can you make the right decisions if everything you’ve been told is a lie?
With absent parents and broken friends, twenty-one year old Ben is making choices which are ruining his life. In jail, again, he and his cellmate, Jake, take a hostage in a futile gesture against a system they can’t control.
This powerful, beautifully written novel gives a vivid and realistic picture of those we send to jail.
Who would you rely on if you were locked up?
Do we ask the most from the ones who have the least?
A Year In The Life
A Guest Post by Ross Greenwood
It’s been a strange time. Linda asked me to write a piece about a year as a self-published author. Only I’m not one now!
I finished Lazy Blood about eighteen months ago. I knew nothing about the publishing world and hadn’t really planned to publish. Perhaps just get some copies printed off. However, the people I got to proof read, loved it. They said you have to get it out there, and that set the ball rolling.
Those who have self-published a book will know what an up-and-down experience that is, but enjoyable nevertheless. I began to receive some great reviews, from people I didn’t know! That inspired me to write the second book, The Boy Inside. The plan had been to write three stories, all with very different protagonists whose lives were affected by prison.
The almost unanimous feedback I got from readers about the first book was that they loved the insight into what our prisons are really like. I was a prison officer for four years and was surprised at what I found when I worked there.
On completion of The Boy Inside I sent it out to agents and publishers. I ended up with two publishers who were keen and an agent. I never expected to be in a position to have to choose between anyone. I decided to go with Bloodhound books in the end as I knew Betsy from online book clubs and as a successful author herself she was very aware of all the fears authors have. They really seem to understand the business.
It was actually a few weeks later that it sank in that I was going to be a real published author. It can be a lonely existence; writing a book. Then at the end it can be demoralizing when no one is interested. So, I’m grateful for Bloodhound for publishing it and providing such a great cover. However, I’m also grateful to so many people, mostly online, who have been so supportive. Linda is one! You’ve all given your time for free with nothing expected in return. I now try to return that to others.
So, this novel is inspired by a story I often heard when I was at work. A tough upbringing leads to a dissociated existence which inevitably ends with jail. Once you are in the prison system, it’s very hard to break free. What events led Ben and his friends to be criminals? Will they be able to make a future for themselves when they leave?
This story will shock some and surprise many. I hope you enjoy it. This book is real life at its rawest.
My Review of The Boy Inside
With a hostage situation about to implode, Ben’s life in prison is just the beginning of this story.
What a powerful and affecting read The Boy Inside is. Aside from a plot that involves everything from petty theft to murder, there is so much that can be learnt from reading this exceptionally well written story. I have to say something about the book’s clever structure too as it is divided into several sections in much the same way as serial offenders’ lives are divided into stretches in prison.
The characters that appear are all too familiar to society, with drug addicts, criminals and prostitutes peppering the narrative, but what is different to many other crime books is the level of humanity behind the writing. Having worked in the prison service Ross Greenwood knows first hand what places inmates there. Ben may be a boy inside, in prison, but Ross Greenwood also shows us utterly clearly the boy inside, the real person behind the criminal and the path that has led Ben to that prison cell. Having taught youngsters similar to Ben in the past I found I was very moved by the situations Ben and Jake especially found themselves in. The home backgrounds of alcoholism, violence and neglect are sadly only too realistic. I also really liked the way in which Ben’s past is revealed, with his route to criminality, his first experiences of sex, his friendship with Jonty all adding to layers that made him a very real person. It was the naturalness of the direct speech that helped create this impression for me too.
What did surprise me was how much I learnt about what life in prison is like. I had some inkling, having acted as a police lay visitor for a few years to local prison cells, but the level of corruption and lawlessness revealed was so convincing and authentic I felt shocked at times.
An element that really resonated with me was the sense of Peterborough as a setting. Peterborough is my nearest city and I recognised so many of the locations which added to my enjoyment because they are authentically presented.
In a sense, this should be a depressing book, but I found The Boy Inside a sensitive and enlightening read as well as a gripping story. There is hope and characters like the Singhs act as a counterpoint to the negative aspects so that I felt The Boy Inside was a realistic and entertaining narrative. I really enjoyed it.
About Ross Greenwood
Ross was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until he was twenty, attending The King’s School in the city. He then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.
He found himself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually when things had gone wrong. It was on one of these occasions that he met hs partner about a hundred metres from his back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. He’s still a little stunned by the pace of it now.
This book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then four years as a prison officer got in the way. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave him the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep, he completed it in the early morning hours.
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