Chin Wag At The Slaugherhouse: Interview With Paul D. Brazill

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If you write crime and read it on the net you know him.

You can’t help but know him.

His stories are everywhere and they leave a deep impression once read. He writes cool and descriptive noir with a touch of humour.

His comments on key sites are omnipresent.

If you don’t know his blog you should.

You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You is full of great writing and information about the latest things happening in the world of net noir writing.

I Didn’t Say That, Did I?  is his column at PULP METAL MAGAZINE.

His story DRUNK ON THE MOON will appear in Dark Valentine Magazine on June 11th.

Paul Brazill agreed to meet me and looked sprightly and alert at 8 am.

Then he started on the shots.


How did growing up in the north of England influence your writing?

Oh, I think I’ve drawn on lots of characters and events from childhood and teenage years in my writing and I’m draining that muddy well more and more, it seems.  The harshness and the black humour of life in the north east is always there.

The north east, Hartlepool in particular, seems riddled with people who are on the margins and disconnected from mainstream, middle-class society and all the better for it, I think! That’s what interests me anyway, the flotsam and jetsam of life. I still consider myself one of them, too. Gabba gabba hey!

That brings me neatly onto my next question. Do you think the class system in England and crime are linked?

Well, there’s crime and there’s crime, it seems.  A doctor’s tax fraud is apparently ‘transgression’ and benefit fraud is responsible for the end of civilisation.

There is certainly a big lump of dispossessed at the bottom of the ladder engaging in petty crimes and at the top people getting away with ‘cutting corners’. I’d love to know how many braying city boys have been given ASBOS.

You’ve been called the Alan Sillitoe of noir, do you think the description fits you?

It’s shocking but I don’t know Alan Sillitoe’s stuff very well. I know I’ve read ‘Saturday & Sunday Morning’ & ‘Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner’ – and seen the films – but that’s it. Great mind you.

I need to read more of his stuff. I don’t think he was as good looking as me, though.

Has Poland influenced your crime writing and does it have its own particular shade of darkness?

You know, I’ve lived in my own bubble most of my life so who knows what permeates the skin. I don’t plan what I write, I usually just start with a word, image or phrase, so pretty much anything could come out. Since I started writing, at the end of 2008, it seems like more and more stuff from life in Hartlepool has crept into the stories.

Poland, in the past 100 years has lived through Nazi occupation, Communism, Catholicism and cut throat capitalism, so, yes, I’m sure it has more than a few very peculiar shades of darkness. But, I’m no social commentator. I just make stuff up and write it down. Some those things are directly from life and some are complete fabrications and most are a Pick N Mix of fact and fiction.

Tell us about your novel.

This bloke, academic, like, discovers that Clint Eastwood is actually Stan Laurel’s bastard offspring and that Bob ‘Blockbusters’ Holness played sax on Baker Street. He starts to uncover the truth about a secret society of Opportunity Knocks and Junior Showtime contestants who have covered up the great showbiz secrets. It’s called the Vince Hill Code. Naw, it’s probably going to be a novella and it’s another Peter Ord Investigation, like The Night Watchman story, which is in Radgepacket Four and Play Dead Until You Die, which will be in the Harbiger*33 anthology.

You obviously like your music Paul, often using a song with meticulous precision as a backdrop to your stories. How does it relate to your writing and what are your musical memories of growing up in Hartlepool?

Well, my oldest brother – who died in Africa about fifteen years ago – was a singer and musician in lots of bands, playing the working men’s clubs, hotels, cruise ships etc – and I do have a vivid memory of being about five and his band – black Beatles suits, red guitars & drums – rehearsing in the front room.

As a teenager and in my early twenties, I was heavily into music – Bowie, Queen, punk, the Fall, Subway Sect, Scott Walker, Orange Juice, Tom Waits, – and I  played bass in a couple of post-punk bands in the early eighties.

That enthusiasm did taper off though and I haven’t actively sought out music for a very, very long time. In fact I’ve never even owned a CD player although that may have more to do with  boozing most of my money away.

I’ve named stories after people’s songs, though: Subway Sect, The Birthday Party, Scott Walker, The Clash, the Lurkers & my mate Peter Ord.

Paul you write vivid, dark, highly readable, detailed stories. Name an experience that changed your life and influenced your writing.

Well, I actually started writing when I moved in with my girlfriend Daria after jumping around Poland for about ten years. And then the floodgates seemed to open.

I’ve never seen my stories as particularly dark, though, apart from The Friend Catcher which is supposed to be, well, sad.

I’ve had some dark experiences growing up and over the years and they do creep out into the stories but not directly.

Do you think it’s true that living in exile sharpens your perceptions of your own country?

Well, it certainly gives you another perspective. One of the best things about living in Poland is that I can’t understand most of the things people say. I miss out on a lot of the crap, the moaning.

When I get back to Blighty it usually seems like a blitz of bollocks. Although I then start to enjoy and get into it. Give me a couple of months in England and I’ll be buying the Daily Mail and laughing at Jeremy Clarkeson. Or not.

You seem to be everywhere on the net, how do you find the time to manage so much?

Simple. I hardly work. I’m a self employed EFL teacher and earn just enough to pay for my keep, tax & insurance and the odd night out. Luckily I don’t have commitments like mortgages, kids and the like so I keep my head above water and faff around on t’internet in the meantime.

In the summer I’ll be teaching in Cambridge for six weeks so my presence online will be minimal since I don’t have a laptop. And after that I want to concentrate on giving that novel thing a good kick about so I don’t intend to be around quite as much!

If you had to pick one story you’ve written which you would want to be known for, which one would it be and why?

Oh, tricky, of course, but this afternoon I re-read The Sharpest Tools In The Box, which is at NEEDLE MAGAZINE, and I did like it. It sounded pretty much how I wanted it to sound!

With that, I left him propped against the bar.

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21 Responses to Chin Wag At The Slaugherhouse: Interview With Paul D. Brazill

  1. Always there for his mates with just the right shade of darkness to elevate the mood. Paul IS the big bamboozler. Nice chat with all our favorite partner in crime. ta to you both!

  2. I’ve said this before, but Brazill has accomplished more in just about two years than tons of writers (myself very much included) have done since they first got an A in creative writing. If most writers worked half as hard as this guy, their stuff would easily be twice as good.

  3. Paul is the best. His comments always give me a little thrill knowing he was there and eyeballed my stuff. Great interview Richard. The man’s a living legend.

  4. Jodi MacArthur says:

    I hadn’t realized so much of Paul’s noir work had come from dark times in Hartlepool. His energy and zest come to life in his noir. I had to laugh when he Paul said he didn’t understand much of what people said there in Poland so he lives in his own bubble. Living on the border, it’s the same thing for me. Must be good for the mind. Great interview both of you.

  5. Richard, an excellent interview and a stellar choice. As you know, Paul, I’ve been a fan since first reading you. Good luck with the novella!

  6. Miss Alister says:

    Well, well, this is all too much fun for a late Thursday afternoon pushing fast into evening. The Vince Hill Code. Heh. So, Mr. Brazill, I had no idea you’d jumped into this game as late as end of 2008. You’ve covered a lot of internet ground, made a lot of writing headway. I’m duly impressed. I look forward to Drunk on the Moon but most of all, I wish you the slickest time with that “novel thing” as you say, such that we all get to flip the actual pages of your kickass Peter Ord-ella : )

  7. Leave it to Paul to ruin my day. Would have loved to read The Vince Hill Code.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and again and, I’m sure, again, and I’ll say it now:

    Paul does more with a handful of words than most do with a novelful.

    Excellent interview, Richard and Paul.

  8. John Wiswell says:

    What a glowing intro. That must be a delight, Paul, insofar as you feel delights. Interesting interview, too. Thanks for sharing it, Richard.

  9. Thanks for that, Paul. It was an interesting look at your life. I regret I am not as familiar with your work as I would like to be. So what exactly is this Harbinger33 thing? No one will tell me. I’d like to buy a copy of it, just to read your story, then rip all the other pages out.

  10. Robert Crisman says:

    I liked what you said about rich men and poor men and crime.

  11. CJT says:

    I always find it fascinating to learn about other writers and to see how much of their life is so similar to our own. Paul is a very intriguing person when you read his work and if you can keep up with him. Thats a big IF… You’re right there Richard, he’s all over the place. It’s great!

  12. Thanks for this, Richard, and thanks for the comments. I should mention that my interview with mr Richard Godwin is coming up soon in PULP METAL MAGAZINE!

    Harbinger*33 is COMING SOON!

  13. I really want to read “Drunk on the Moon.” I can see that one.

  14. Thank you everyone for your comments and thank you Paul for a great interview. And you can read his interview of me.

  15. Al Tucher says:

    Where’s that bar? I need to start hanging there.

  16. Paul, you always give the best interviews.

  17. Mike Wilkerson says:

    Paul’s a genuine good egg, but way too prolific: he makes the rest of us look bad.

    Good interview.

  18. Thanks everyone for stopping over and to Richard for the cracking questions.

  19. Great stuff! And Paul you’re right. You’re much better looking.

  20. M C Funk says:

    Such a fun interview. Glad I stopped by the Slaughterhouse and caught a whiff of Paul. It’s one of those intoxicating, biting odors that forces a smile while making you wince.

  21. How the hell did I miss this? Loved it, terrific stuff from the monkey hanger on tour. Oh – and since you’re at the bar, mine’s a pint, bonny lad. Cheers!

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