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An Interview with Dougie Brimson, Author of In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2020

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Your new novel In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Itís a thriller about what happens when average working class people lose faith in the justice system and start looking for alternative methods of justice. 

 

With In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly being set in the hooligan-scene, did you do any special research on the subject, and/or is any of it based on personal experience even?

 

In The Know isnít exactly set in the world of hooliganism although it is an element of the plot and my central character, Billy Evans, has a history that is steeped in it. Indeed, heís based on characters Iíve met over decades of following football. My writing career actually began when I started writing about hooliganism back in 1996 when my brother and I wrote a non-fiction book called Everywhere We Go. That explored the subject from the perspective of two lads who had been in and around the scene in the 70ís and 80ís and not only looked at what it was all about but explored various issues that impacted on football fans generally such as policing, the media, politics, etc. Iíve written 9 non-fiction books on hooliganism and subjects relating to football now so I think I know my core subject pretty well.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly?

 

To be brutally honest, the inspiration was simply to tell the story and give my readers something theyíd been asking for for a while which is the next chapter in the story of Billy Evans. Iím extremely lucky in that I have a very loyal following so I generally try to give them what they want as opposed to what I think they might like.

 

In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly is the third book in the Billy Evans-series - so do talk about the character's creation, the previous books, and how did he evolve over the years/books?

 

I make no secret of the fact that I never set out to be a writer, indeed it was never on my radar at all. When we wrote Everywhere We Go it was purely as a way of making money, simple as that. However, after the first book we were asked to do a second one and ended up doing another three within a couple of years. A few years after that, I had a call from the writer Lynda La Plante who wanted to meet with me to discuss a hooligan-related plotline she was developing for one of her TV series. So I met with her but what she had was absolute rubbish so I offered to come up with something better. She loved my outline but sadly, the network turned it down due to some of the plot elements, but she told me that it was such a great story, I should write it up as a novel. Iíd never thought about doing any fiction up to that point but gave it a go and that turned into The Crew, which was the first book in this trilogy. That book came out in 2000 and Lynda La Plante actually gave me a cover quote for it, which was nice.

 

How would you describe In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly's approach to the thriller genre?

 

I think if youíre going to write a thriller, then it needs to be thrilling. That means that stuff needs to be happening all the time as opposed to every so often. I read some so-called thrillers and they just plod along trying to be all moody and smart and I sit there feeling like my life is ebbing away. Iíve no interest in writing like that. Writing is entertainment and it doesnít matter if itís thrillers, horror or even comedy, itís the duty of the writer to provide that entertainment. Thatís why all my thrillers have huge endings. I want readers to experience that Ďfuck me, I didnít see that comingí moment. Not least because thatís part of what will hopefully bring them back for more.

 

Do talk about In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly's overall style and feel!

 

Someone has reviewed In The Know and said ĎBrimson writes at breakneck speed and he drags you along with him for the entire journey.í I think that sums up my style perfectly. As for the feel, I try to make all my fiction as honest as possible. I know my readership pretty well I think, and so I try to involve them in the story by portraying situations and characters that they can relate to or even recognise. After all, Iím writing about their world, not just in respect of football life, but working class life and so I have a duty to get it right.

 

A few words about the actual writing process in regards to In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly?

 

I write all my fiction in a very specific way, and it all starts with the ending. Indeed, most of my fictional work will stem from an idea Iíve had for the last few pages or few minutes of a story. Remember, it doesnít matter if itís a book or a movie, every single element of a plot is about getting you to the conclusion so when it comes to a thriller, you have to end it with serious drama or whatís the point?

 

So when it comes to a new project, the first thing Iíll do is get a rough handle on my central charters and then Iíll write the ending. Then Iíll rewrite it until I have it pretty much nailed down, at which point Iíll go to the start and start developing the rest of the plot and the characters to suit. I might tweak it slightly to encompass character traits or incidents Iíve come up with along the way, but generally speaking, the original ending will remain exactly the same throughout. Itís a strange way of working, but it works for me. Indeed, I always tell people that thereís no way to write, only ways.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly?

 

Well as I type this itís only been out for 5 days but in all honesty the lockdown has worked to my advantage because people are diving into it as soon as it drops on the mat. The response from my readers so far has been genuinely better than I could have asked for and itís generating a bit of a buzz on social media largely because I encouraged people to post pictures of it on their doormat so letís hope it continues! Critical reaction is something else entirely because generally speaking, I donít get any. If youíre not a big name or new (female) author writing about finding love on holiday in the South of France or having a tough time after being dumped, the critics rarely give you a second glance these days. But thatís an entire debate in its own right.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 


Iím currently writing my first military thriller which is based on a script I wrote a few years ago which is hopefully heading for the big screen. On top of that, Iím developing a thriller for a studio in Hollywood. Oddly, that stems from something I pitched to them a few years ago. They really loved the central character, but the concept wasnít for them so after a gap of about four years, theyíve come back to me and asked me to come up with another plot based around that same character. Itís very exciting.

 

What got you into writing in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I know some people will hate me for this, but I got into writing purely to make money. My brother and I knew the idea for Everywhere We Go was solid and we knew that if we could find someone to publish it ahead of EURO 96, then weíd also have the perfect timing. As it happened, we did and it was. The book was an instant smash and continues to sell 24 years later. However, not knowing any other writers at all, we thought that a big selling book would set us up for life - but of course it doesnít work like that. So we just carried on milking it for as long as we could. 25 years later, Iím still getting away with it!

 

As for training, God no. It was years before I actually started to meet other writers and by then Iíd already sold more than most of them and had a Hollywood feature under my belt so I was pretty confident that whatever I was doing was working. Why change a winning formula?

 


What can you tell us about your books prior to In the Know: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Quickly?

 

In The Know is actually my 16th book, and theyíre split pretty much equally between non-fiction and fiction. Of the fictional stuff, four are comedies, and then there are the three thrillers in this trilogy. The first of these, The Crew, stems from the meeting with Lynda La Plante as I previously mentioned, whilst the second, Top Dog, was another born out of an idea I had for an ending. Or rather, two ideas for two endings which I wrapped together. I actually adapted Top Dog for the screen a few years ago and it did really well.

 

Eventually, you also branched out into screenwriting - so how did that happen, and what can you tell us about your filmwork?

 

Like most things, it happened by chance. I had a message from someone who told me about a woman from the US who was posting messages on hooligan forums talking about an idea for a movie and asking for people to contact her. So I made contact using a fake name and checked her out. Once I was happy she was on the level, I put her in touch with the real me and fairly soon, we were talking about an idea for a script which eventually became Green Street. Whilst I was doing that, I had a call from a guy called Jon S Baird asking me to write a short movie about hooliganism for him. That ended up being called Itís A Casual Life, and is probably my favourite film to date, albeit only 12 minutes long. Jon S Baird actually went on to direct the Irvine Welsh movie Filth as well as the BAFTA nominated Laurel and Hardy biopic, Stan & Ollie, so he didnít do too bad for himself either!

 


What do you actually enjoy more, writing prose or scripting movies, and how do the two compare?

 

I only ever work on stuff I enjoym which is why I have such a varied backlist of work. If a project appeals enough to get me actually working on it, Iíll carry on until it either reaches a conclusion or stops being fun, at which point Iíll walk away and leave it. Lifeís far too short to not have fun when youíre working and at my age, itís even shorter!

 

It should be obvious that books and scripts are very different beasts to develop and both have their pros and cons. What I will say is that when it comes to screenplays, the pros tend to be greater and the cons much more devastating! The key difference from a creative perspective is that whereas with a book Iím in total control of the entire process, a script is very much a collaboration. From the second you start writing right through to when the director yells Ďwrapí, every single word and every single scene is open to change. Indeed, I always say that scrips should be written in pencil rather than ink because everything is at risk of being rubbed out. As a writer, that means that you canít afford to get precious about a script, and unless there are specific things that youíre prepared to fight for, then you have to go with the flow. That can be great when it improves things, but when you sense that itís damaging, as often happens, it can be gut wrenching. The other thing is that with a script, if the finished movie looks great on screen, the writer rarely gets the praise, but if itís awful, itís always the writers fault.

 

How would you describe yourself as a writer?

 


My mate once told me that I was the most famous writer no one had ever heard of and that sums it up pretty nicely I think.

 

Writers, screenwriters, whoever else who inspire you?

 

I have to cite Lynda La Plante because she inspired me to move into fiction. Aside from her however, the only thing that inspires me are my readers. Thatís a trite thing to say, I know, but itís a fact.

 

Books you couldn't live without?

 

Lord of the Rings. Iíve lost count of the number of times Iíve read it but it still excites me every single time. Itís pretty much the perfect story. Iím also addicted to book called Vulcan 607. Itís about the Vulcan bomber raids on the Falklands during the 1982 war and the reason I love it so much is because I was in the Royal Air Force at the time and was stationed on Ascension Island whilst the raids were taking place.

 

And since this is first and foremost a film page, your favourite movies, and those you absolutely deplore?

 

Iím a huge fan of Ealing comedies and old British movies. Indeed, if I were to write a top 10, The Cruel Sea, Yield to the Night, The League of Gentlemen and School for Scoundrels would certainly feature. However, my favourite all time movie, and this will shock a few people, is the classic musical Singing In The Rain. I never, ever get tired of watching it, itís the perfect escapism. If I had to state a genre that leaves me cold, it would have to be slasher/horror stuff. I just donít get it at all.

 

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Your/your book's website, social media, whatever else?

 

My website is: www.dougiebrimson.com

Twitter: @dougiebrimson

Facebook: dougie.brimson

Instagram: dougiebrimson

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I donít think so. The only thing Iíd add is that if anyone is thinking about writing anything, then stop thinking about it and do it. If I can, anyone can!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Special thanks to Richard S Barnett, founder of IIWYK!!!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD