Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Nigel Bird to discuss his new book, In Loco Parentis (All Due Respect).
Congratulations on the publication of In Loco Parentis! How would you pitch the story to potential readers?
When the systems let down a young child, teacher Joe Campion decides to take matters into his own hands. With justice as his compass, his personal life loses its bearings and his world quickly disintegrates.
What do you hope that readers take away from the book?
I’d like them to feel something. To experience the sadness, the tension and the humour of Joe’s story. I hope they get an insight into the mind of someone who is struggling to survive and maybe to look at others and see that most people are working really hard to keep afloat. Maybe they’ll see teachers in a different light, too. That they’ll be a little more understanding of how the job can carry too much weight even for those who don’t go so obviously off the rails as they try and cope.
This book was published by All Due Respect; do you read mainstream crime fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene?
I read crime fiction from both the mainstream and from independents. There’s a lot to recommend a varied diet of books to any reader and that applies even more to writers. There’s exciting work coming from everywhere and we’re lucky to be around at a time when we have such choice and that publishers like All Due Respect exist. A lot of what I read was written a long time ago, so it’s a case of buying second-hand much of the time.
If you could recommend one crime novel that people are unlikely to have heard of, what would it be?
The first two that come to mind are:
William Boyle’s Gravesend, a superb and beautifully written novel that has a strong emotional charge.
Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock. It ticked boxes I didn’t know I had. This short story collection is a masterpiece.
Which contemporary writers do you consider to be your peers?
When I was focusing upon writing short stories, I had the good fortune to be published in a number of really great anthologies as well as to compile a couple. I see each of those collections as being communities of writers and that’s where my crime-writing roots lie. I also see Blasted Heath and All Due Respect as loose families of sorts and they are other communities which I’m proud to be part of.
If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?
I don’t really see writing as a career anymore, so I’d be happy to follow the path of any author who just kept on writing. I wouldn’t mind having Simenon’s ethos or to knock things out with the rhythm of Ed McBain. They’d do.
Finally, what are your future publishing plans?
All Due Respect will be putting out a couple more of my titles, Smoke and Mr Suit. They’re both stories I think work well and that I’m proud of. After that, I have a novel that will be published at the end of 2019, the first in a series of police dramas. I have contracts for the first three, but if I’m still enjoying writing about the characters by the end of the third, it’s possible that there may be more.
Nigel Bird lives on the east coast of Scotland with his family. As well as writing novels, novellas and short stories, he works in three rural schools as a Support for Learning teacher.