John Dalton

John Dalton

John Dalton lives in Birmingham. He has two children and works as an adult literacy tutor. The Concrete Sea follows up Dalton’s acclaimed debut The City Trap.

“Crime writing is at its best when it summons an unmistakable sense of place, and Dalton proves a master . . . British dirty realism at its strongest” — Guardian

Which have been the landmarks or highlights in your career?
I don’t tend to see myself as a ‘writer’, but more as ‘someone who writes’, along with doing a variety of other activities. It’s a process, and writing highlights would include those moments at some point or other when something imaginative happens that you never expected.

What other jobs and work have proved useful to your work as a writer?
All experience is valuable – the old colloquial term ‘the university of life’ springs to mind.

What is the most challenging aspect of your writer’s life?
Finding the time and motivation to do it.

Do you enjoy plotting and research or do you prefer to take a different tack?
I prefer to get stuck in and build a story, with only thoughts, observations and a skeletal plot at the beginning. I don’t do much in the way of research and often that tends to be afterwards to check things out.

Have you tried writing in other forms? What’s special about the novel? Or the short story?
I like prose because it can interweave ideas, descriptions and speech in an ongoing narrative flow that forms a structure, which in turn evokes suspense and emotion, leading to some final experiential effect. It can be a novel, but often stories in life are more compelling.

What do you like most about your fiction?
Apart from the ongoing engagements with the creative process, that I’ve completed things and they hold together. I wouldn’t make any assumptions about other people’s responses other than to hope there will be some meeting of minds.

Who is your favourite writer?
I don’t have one. There’s a whole range of books from different periods that have had some impact. Off the top of my head, here’re a few authors – Bakara, Bardin, Barthes, Bukowski, Burroughs, Camus, Ellroy, Genet, Goodis, Hammett, Himes, London, Phelan, Morrison, Thompson … etc.

Do you like to keep up with the contemporary literature scene?
I don’t read much fiction at the moment and am more into non-fiction.

Which book might you be most embarrassed to admit to reading?
There is none.

What other forms of expression most appeal to you?
All forms of expression are interesting, though the infinite nature of speech is perhaps the best.