Recently I had the honor of doing an interview with this amazing man. Little did I know just how amazing he was and what contributions he has made to the publishing and writing world. So happy and thrilled to be able to tell you about him!
The first question I always ask is how old were you when you wrote your first book. Graham said he was 5 or 6 and started writing as soon as he could read and write and that he loved to draw. He did a weekly comic called Flash! With a space captain called Don Kenyon on the front cover. He also wrote novels mostly based on Jules Verne stories like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. They featured a tough sailor called Hans Lee. I bound these books in cardboard and illustrated the covers. As he grew older he discovered Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker and the Pan Book of Horror Stories and started writing his own horror short stories that he read to his friends durning breaks at school.
When asked how many books he had written he told me probably over 120 and that they were all listed on Wikipedia. I looked and the list is long and impressive.
Is there anything you won’t write about? The answer was a simple no.
I asked him to tell me about himself and his life. Graham is 70 this year. He said it sounds a lot older than he feels. I was expelled from school at 17 because I lost interest in Shakespeare and developed an enthusiasm for hard-bitten American writers like Herman Would (The Caine Mutniy) and Nelson Algren (The Man With The Golden Arm) and later the American Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. I also at this point developed and enthusiasm for pretty girls and that tended to take my attention away from my studies.
I corresponded with William Burroughs when he was living in Tangiers and when he came to London we became friends and I often dropped in to his flat on Duke Street so that we could talk about writing techniques and go out for dinner. He taught me the art of being invisible as a writer, and making readers feel like they were actually living in the story, or at least watching a movie. I wrote a novel in collaboration with him called Rules of Duel.
I became a trainee news reporter at 17 and after 6 months had my own pop news page with a byline. I was lucky, in those days the local papers were staffed by former Fleet Street journalists and they taught me how to write clearly and concisely and how to do interviews.
When I was 21 my girlfriend saw someone on the train reading Mayfair, a new men’s magazine. I wrote a very arrogant letter to them saying how much they needed me and I was hired as deputy editor. I worked there for three years before I had an argument with the editor and quit. The next week I was appointed as assistant editor at Penthouse magazine. I worked my way up to becoming executive editor. I visited their New York offices often and came to know several American publishers. They encouraged me to write sex-instruction books so I wrote How To Drive Your Man Wild In Bed which was a huge best seller. I have published 29 books of sex advice.
My first wife and I married when I was 24. We had two children. She is sadly deceased. At the age of 27 I fell in love with my editorial assistant at Penthouse, a Polish girl called Wieska. We met at the office Christmas party. We were married for 37 years until she passed in 2011. We had three sons. I now have 11 grandchildren. Wieska always read my books chapter by chapter and really kept me going. After she died a pretty young Polish woman Marysia Raczkowska agreed to do it for me. She read Community as I wrote it and gave me the strength to get back to writing full steam ahead. While I lived in Cork, Ireland I wrote the first books featuring an Irish detective named Katie Maguire. So right at the moment I am committed to writing Katie books.
I asked Graham what is your favorite book you have written. He told me there were two. Trauma about a woman crime scene cleaner, and then Descendant which is a vampire novel about real vampires. Strigoi and the man employed by the army in World War II to hunt them down when the Germans started to use them.
Who or what inspired you to write? His answer surprised me. He said nothing and nobody. It’s just in my brain. If I’m not writing novels, I’m writing short stories or poems sometimes letters to the newspapers.
Are there any traditions you do when you finish a book? Yes, I immediately start a new one. I don’t have time to do anything else. I like silence when I write. Writing is like composing music or singing the rhythm of every sentence is critical. I don’t want to be influenced by Beethoven or Raphael’s rhythms in the background.
What is your favorite thing about writing? It takes you into another world. But what’s best is that it takes other people into that world too and when people write to me and tell me I felt like I was really there. That is the best compliment they can pay me.
Graham is truly an amazing man and there is so much more about him to read than I could possibly include in this interview. Please read more on Wikipedia.
It has been my pleasure and privilege to put this interview together. Thank you Graham!