As part of the Dead Wrong blog tour, I have one of my favourite people joining me on the blog today, Curtis Jobling. Curtis has written a post about for the Secret Serendipity Seven feature. If you ever get the chance to meet Curtis, I would definitely take the opportunity, as he is one of the nicest authors in publishing.
Both Haunt novels, Dead Scared and Dead Wrong, are based, very loosely, on my life growing up in Warrington. That's no great secret, but perhaps these other things are:
1) The characters in the book are based upon real life friends of mine. Dougie's home is that of my childhood friend Wayne Mitchinson's, and the view from his window was St Mary's Graveyard, complete with headstones in the mist. Will is essentially me, but with added spectral mischief. Dungeons & Dragons guru Andy Vaughn is based on Andy Jackson, and I still game with him to this day #NerdsForLife. School miscreant Stu Singer is my old mate Stu Wheeler, and yes, he was the leader of the "Damage Squad" in school. There were only four members, and I was more of a guesting member of the group, egging them on to all manner of ridiculous stunt. And the names of Will and Dougie are lifted from my friends in the north who I met through the Animex Animation Festival, Chris Williams and Dougie Pincott. Every other character is pretty much inspired by someone I met in my youth too, even the villains. . .
2) Redbrook House. There was an old building on the land of my old high school, but it wasn't a red brick Victorian affair that was condemned to be demolished. It was the old Labour Club, and it backed onto the school athletics field. If you traversed the scrubland beyond the running track, it would bring you out beside the old warehouse behind the Labour Club. This was apparently haunted, and kids - myself included - would be dared to creep up to its open door and chance a step into the darkness within. It was the stuff of nightmares to my overactive imagination. That wasn't the worst of it either. The Sankey Brook that bisected the school playing fields had a large sewer storm drain with an enormous steel grate, so big that you could swing open the broken door and sneak into it. That was far scarier. Rumour had it that a giant, child-eating rat had made the sewer its lair. I suspect there were far more foul things dwelling within that murky sewage water, mind you, not least the refuse from the Sixth Form toilets upstream. . .
3) Chapter One: Heroes and Villains. Dead Wrong kicks off in the town centre with the boys on a nerdy shopping trip. Yep, that was me and my mates, and that checklist of shops they visited was our regular routine, only with a modern twist. When they encounter the school bullies, they're chased through town, with Dougie finally finding refuge down an alleyway between the high street banks. That alley does exist, and is nestled between NatWest and the old Barclays Bank in Warrington town centre.
4) Mr Bradbury. The lightness in Dead Wrong comes from the jokes and japes that Will and Dougie share with their friends. The darkness is never far away though. There are still ghosts out there, such as that of the Lamplighter, and there are human dangers too like the sinister Mr Bradbury. The idea of a villain from Liverpool setting up camp and business in Warrington isn't such an unlikely scenario. Growing up in West Warrington, aka the scouse side of town, I had loads of friends whose parents were from Liverpool. These were great people, salt of the earth, moving out to my town as they followed where the work was. However, there were also genuine real life bad guys who occasionally turned up in my sleepy suburb from out of town. Mr Bradbury is based upon one such character, albeit tenuously. His style is more Reservoir Dogs meets the Krays. He was a joy to write!
5) The American Airbase. Warrington was indeed home to an airbase during the Second World War, and there were many Americans stationed in and around the town. When I was a teenager there were still American families living on the base, their children attending my school. The old hangars were a place of exploration and adventure for my mates and I, all of which of course was quite illegal. The base was surrounded by a tall wire fence, but my friends and I knew our way in and out of it. As the base was considered US Soil, rumour had it that if you were caught on there you could get SHOT! Chilling stuff when you considered that the most our local bobby might do was clip our ears if we were caught playing knock and run. Legend tells us that there were secret floors beneath the base, stocked with all kinds of military paraphernalia left over from the war in readiness for nuclear war. I say legend: playground banter would be closer to the truth.
6) "Kiss the girl". I was a painfully shy young man at school when it came to the fairer sex, so Will's feelings toward Lucy are pretty much my own. She's an amalgam of all those girls I fancied in school but never plucked up the courage to steal a kiss from. I was the perennial 'best friend' to them, utterly non-threatening and good for a laugh. I'm not so shy now, I might add. Mrs Bling tells me I'm a terrible flirt, but it's not that. I'm confident in my own skin as an adult, I know perfectly well who I am. I was less sure when I was a scrawny, freckly zit-covered teenager.
7) And lastly, something you may not know about me? Ghosts don't scare me. Why? They don't exist. However, I do have a pathological fear of deep water. Why? Sharks exist. I can blame JAWS entirely for this, the fact that I saw it when I was maybe eight years old. That stuff can stay with a chap, even when he's 43. . .
Dead Wrong by Curtis Jobling is the second book in the Haunt series and was published on the 26th February 2015 by Simon and Schuster.
To find out more about Curtis Jobling:
Check out the other stops on the blog tour below.