Anthony Cartwright

Anthony Cartwright

Anthony Cartwright was born in Dudley in 1973. In 1993 he left to study English and American literature at UEA. Having worked in factories, meatpacking plants, pubs and warehouses and with London Underground, in 1998 he trained as an English teacher, working for years in the East End of London and now in Nottinghamshire. His debut The Afterglow won much acclaim – and a Betty Trask Award in 2004. Heartland was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize: Best Novel in 2010.

How long have you been a writer?
I started writing with an idea of getting published in 1998 – the year I started to train as an English teacher – but since I can remember I always thought like I was a ‘writer’. My first novel, The Afterglow was published in 2004 and my second, Heartland, in 2009. Both are with Tindal Street Press.

What inspires you to write?
A mixture of things I’ve seen and heard about, Black County stories, other books and writers

Who is your favourite writer/s?
Current XI (several other first teamers mentioned elsewhere in this article): Albert Camus, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, John Berger, Mario Vargas Llosa, David Peace, Ahmadou Kourouma, Paul Auster, George Orwell, Don DeLillo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m working on an essay about a book called King Dido by the unjustly neglected novelist Alexander Baron. King Dido is a novel from the sixties set in 1913 in Bethnal Green, about gangs, territory and “respect”. It’s being republished in the autumn by Five Leaves Press. His work deserves to be much more widely available. I’m also writing my 3rd novel, to be published by Tindal Street Press. Working title: How I Killed Margaret Thatcher (mind you, that was a working title for my last two books as well!).

What are you reading at the moment?
David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet – I’ve loved his more recent books – and David Belbin’s The Pretender, a skillful coming of age story that begins with a young writer successfully forging one of Hemingway’s lost Paris stories. I’m looking forward to reading Kamila Shamzie’s Burnt Shadows and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read as widely as you can. Keep working. Write the stuff you’d like to read. Two books that might help: On Becoming a Novelist and The Craft of Fiction: Notes for Young Writers both by John Gardner.

What book has made you laugh?
Paul McDonald’s brilliant comic novels set in Walsall, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Allah is not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma.

What book has made you cry?
Parts of Suttree, Cities of the Plain and The Road by Cormac McCarthy: an amazing writer. Also, Allah is not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma, an incredible novel – funny and tragic -narrated in the voice of a West African child soldier.

What book would you recommend to a friend and why?
Actually, some I’ve just mentioned. Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer because they feature brilliant friendships and maybe tell us something about being a friend.

What was the last book you borrowed from the library?
Gideon Haigh’s books about the last two Ashes series and Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag. One of the great things about public libraries is the fantastic mix: of books and people.