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Happy Sad Land
No Worries
Jack and Zena
The Craic
1900 House
Robbie Williams
- Somebody Someday

The Meaning of Tingo and Toujours Tingo
Going Dutch in Beijing
The Thingummy
Walking with the Wounded
The Festival Murders
Cruising To Murder
Murder Your Darlings
Murder On Tour

Murder On Tour - buy this title from


  Murder On Tour
  buy this title from

Some books come fast and easily, others do not. This one germinated over a period of more than twenty years, starting with an attempt that was written when I was still far too close to the material.

In 2001 I went round Europe on tour with the pop star Robbie Williams, to research and write the book Somebody Someday (see separate section). It was a challenge to write, partly because the main man wasn’t that interested in doing it and rather reluctant to give interviews. And even though his management gave me every support possible, and far more leeway in writing about the details of the tour than I’d imagined would be allowed, there were still plenty of scenes and experiences that were never going to make an authorised book about Robbie.

My first attempt to get this material into a novel began shortly after I’d finished Somebody Someday and was relaxing on the high that comes with having a book at number one for fourteen weeks and in the top ten for some time afterwards (an achievement that was more to do with Robbie’s fame than my execution, I was happy to admit). There was also money, which enabled me to indulge myself. And indulge myself I did, with a loopy Scoop-type plot about a country mouse fogey who got himself by mistake onto the rock tour of the famous Johnny K. Even when my dear agent of the time told me that the book lacked the necessary ‘shocks of recognition’ I persisted. Rewriting and rewriting, talking to other agents, spending the best part of one summer rewriting to fit the specifications of one very big agent who then decided he didn’t like it after all.

A great big fat waste of time, as my daughter would say. I returned to ghostwriting with my tail between my legs. The horrid truth is, the agents were all right. The novel wasn’t Scoop. And though it had its moments, I’m heartily glad it never saw the light of day.

It sat on a shelf, along with other half-baked aborted efforts, for nearly twenty years. Occasionally I would bring it down, read a bit of it, tut tut, light a match, decide not to burn it after all and put it back again. And then, casting around for somewhere to go with my detective Francis Meadowes after the success of Murder Your Darlings, the third in my whodunnit sequence, it occurred to me that I could send him out on tour. With an updated Johnny K. Who became JonniK and then, after the efforts of my copy-editor, Jonni K.

I barely looked at the old manuscript. But what that had achieved, all that time before, was hammering out some of the characters of band and crew, loosely based perhaps on people I had met on the road, but also very much with identities of their own. The whodunnit structure was all I needed to make the whole thing cohere. As I wrote on, the new plot dropped neatly into place, and the identity of the murderer was finally revealed to me. I dithered over the twist, or rather the twists, at the end. Was it all too hard core for the cosy crime genre? Was it insulting some legendary greats? With some trepidation, I stuck with what I’d written.

Another advantage of the long wait was that I had worked as a ghostwriter in the interim with half of another major and famous rock band, on an entertaining memoir that also never appeared. That second failure probably had more to do with publishers’ worries about libel than anything else, but I still had that material in my head, not obviously as a direct source, but to help me inform my rock ‘n roll world.

Once it was finished, I showed Murder on Tour to a few people in the music industry, who offered tips and suggestions about updating, but basically gave it the thumbs up. One member of a once-famous band said that the plot was ‘like a Rubik’s cube’, which pleased me inordinately, especially as I make up the plots as I go along, so any clever twists are the product of my subconscious.

All of which goes to show that nothing is ever wasted in the writing game. If you do get to read it, I hope you enjoy it.

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