ABP– Thank you for taking this interview, James. One year ago, Alien Buddha Press was lucky to publish your novel, Parochial Pigs. The book went on to become our 4th highest selling book of 2022, and 10th all-time. What can you tell us about this collection? What was the writing process like?
JJ- Wow! That’s amazing. I’m incredibly proud of that achievement. A huge thanks goes to you for taking a chance on my work and giving me this opportunity. It wouldn’t have happened without Alien Buddha.
Parochial Pigs is my debut novel set in the criminal underworld of Bristol and a fictional village in the South-West of England. The story follows a dangerous individual Dicky Farrell who works for the menacing Bobby Cavendish. The story intwines with a narrow-minded parish run by a retired police officer DCI Chilcot. Chilcot inherits a disgruntled dirty cop who has been relocated to the small community against his will. Both narratives collide in a dark, violent and sometimes humorous tail. Think gangland brit-grit with a hint of Wicker Man. It was recently described as hardcore noir by a good friend – I’m owning that!
The writing process has probably been a bit arse about face if I’m completely honest. The latter part of Pigs was originally planned for a short indie film but after twenty odd hours and several thousand words I realised there was something more to the world I’d created. The only problem, I had an ending and no beginning. This became the most fun part for me as I could create these new characters in a different light. I then knew I was writing a novel instead of a screenplay and found that this is what I wanted to do. My good friend mentioned above has been there along the way to help me edit and bounce ideas. If it wasn’t for Joe Runnacles, I wouldn’t have arrived with a book I was truly proud of.
ABP– Can you share an excerpt with us here?
JJ- He Does Have a Heart
Bobby Cavendish would never have thought it was possible to kill anybody by force feeding them a five-hundred-piece puzzle but then as he had learnt many times before, put a gun to somebody’s head and they will mostly do anything for you. It wasn’t the eating that had killed her, she was struggling to breathe around the time piece eighty-four had gone down her throat. Shame too. She’d gone before her time.
He could tell there was more Dee wasn’t telling him but none of that mattered now. It had been two weeks since Emily had last been seen. Days of re-examining the CCTV footage drew a clear picture for Bobby. Did these dick heads think he was that stupid? It had been like watching a better-acted soap opera that had all the bases covered. Sex, lies, tears, he’d watched it all. There wasn’t a room, nook, or cranny in the place that didn’t have cameras.
The intel he’d extracted from Dee tonight had been very useful, he knew that she sold information on the girl to the journalist. A stone in his shoe for weeks and up until now seemed impossible to find. After his darling Emily had not turned up for work three days in a row, he’d sent his trusted soldier Dicky Farrell to check on her. Perhaps she’d been unwell. He had made sure to remind Dicky to let her know if she needed anything, anything at all, then she shouldn’t hesitate to ask. He would have gone there himself, but Bobby wasn’t used to these feelings. He’d found himself as nervous as a schoolboy when he tentatively called her mobile – cancelling the call before it even rang. The anxious excitement that tore his guts apart every time he thought 48
about her was stronger than how he felt about his own brand of recreational violence, of which often seemed his raison d’êtra when sunk within its depths. Even tonight with Dee, something had changed in him. His heart just hadn’t been in it. It was a fucking puzzle, for fucks sake! There was no getting around it, his concentration level was all over the place. Normally, if he liked a girl then he would just take her, but Emily was sacred to him. She had pride and he knew that she wasn’t the girl that would give it to him immediately, unless he physically took it from her. He had found himself respecting this trait unfortunately for the first time.
ABP– What do you have planned for 2023? Are you working on anything now?
JJ- My second novel Sun Bleached Scarecrows is due for release by Anxiety Press in early 2023. It does work as a sequel to Parochial Pigs although I never intended for Pigs to be a series. Ever since I finished writing it, I couldn’t stop asking what the characters would be up to now. By the time I was halfway through SBS I knew this was quickly becoming a trilogy. I am now working on the third and final instalment. I have completed another standalone novel in the same brit grit style and hope to submit this in the new year.
ABP- What is the art/lit scene like in Ipswich these days?
JJ- Ipswich has a vast number of local writers and very diverse in style. We are incredibly lucky to have a local indie bookstore – Dial Lane Books. The owner is amazing at promoting all of us and gives books the rock n roll edge they deserve. Unfortunately, Ipswich has always suffered on the wide world stage as we are so close but still far enough from London and Norwich. I’ve seen many very talented musicians and bands not receive the attention they should have (Ed Sheeran is NOT from Ipswich). This has seen promoters choosing to turn their attention away when booking live bands, but it is changing. We now have some great book festivals, spoken word events and bigger bands coming through.
ABP– Who is your favorite writer? What is your favorite book?
JJ- That’s always a tough one and never gets easier to answer, no matter how many times I’m asked. Hunter S. Thompson opened an entirely new world of writing to me that I didn’t know existed before I discovered his self-defined style of Gonzo journalism. Chuck Palahniuk is by far my most read author and Diary is up there in my top books – but then so is pretty much anything he does. Film is what originally led me to both greats and where I take most of my inspiration from. Irvine Welsh has had a major impact on my own writing. However, if I had to really choose one book it would Papillon.
ABP- Thank you again for taking this interview, James. If there is anything else you would like to share, announce, or promote, please feel free to do so.
JJ- I certainly haven’t given up on promoting Parochial Pigs yet! I would say to anyone sitting on the fence about reading it to have a go. It’s a bit of fun with a heavy dark spine throughout. Plus – it will really help to understand Sun Bleached Scarecrows! I have a few short stories available at multiple e-zines including Punk Noir, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Bristol Noir among a few others. They can be found on my web page at Jamesjenkinswriter.wordpress.com.
People can follow me @JamesCJenkins4 on Twitter or Instagram james_jenkins_writer and finally https://www.facebook.com/JamesJenkinsAuthor/
Thanks again Red for being a major part of this crazy and incredible ride!