INTERVIEW: Liverpool author Lee Walker

LEE WALKER is best known for his fortnightly slot on Billy Butler’s show on BBC Radio Merseyside which showcases stories from his acclaimed book Dead of Night. Shaun McCoy caught up with him and asked him about his book, his Tales From the Lids fanzine, and what inspired him as a writer.

How long have you been a writer and what were your early influences to become a writer?
I’ve been reading and writing from an early age. I started writing stories and plays at school when I was very young. I was reading Tolkien when I was 6 years old. I later got into reading stories by Edgar Alan Poe and Ray Bradbury. I am big fan of Charles Dickens – I think he is a genius. I love A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations. As I got a bit older I read the written equivalent of the video nasty – The Pan Book of Horror and Richard Cavendish’s The History of Black Magic. I don’t want to be typecast as just a supernatural author because I also write poetry, lyrics and melodies for my band – the Lids, and I also edit and produce a fanzine called Tales From the LidsMerseyside Culture, Football, Music and other Life Affirming Wonders.

You’re probably best known to people as the author of Dead of Night – what sorts of feedback have you had about the book?
Appearing on the Billy Butler Show on Radio Merseyside has been a big plus. Interest in the book has picked up in the last three months because of the exposure Dead of Night has had on Billy’s show. There’s been a lot of great feedback on Amazon – lots of positive five star reviews from people who have read the book.

Did you have any difficulties getting the book published?
The only difficulties I had were getting retailers to stock it in their shops. It’s the old cliché/catch 22 they don’t like stocking work by unknown authors. They also thought it was too big and were also put off by the cover. I didn’t have difficulties getting it published. Dead of Night, was originally a magazine, so I sent it to CFZ (Centre for Fortean Zoology) who print stories about the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, Beast of Bodmin, etc. They wanted me to do a book and they would publish it. But I’ve had to promote it myself by going on Billy Butler and Pete Price’s radio shows. Halton Lea Library has said it’s their most popular book. Please don’t be put off by the cover because it’s not indicative of what’s in the book.

What was your motivation to write Dead of Night?
Some of the book is autobiographical recounting stories and experiences from my childhood. I absolutely love writing. I didn’t just want to write the archetypal supernatural book. There are three types of supernatural styles of book. 1. The ones that preach, saying ghosts are real, etc and they’ve been proven beyond all doubt. 2. The overtly science fiction type with all the pseudo sci-fi jargon trying to prove the reality of the supernatural and how to investigate it. They are sceptical of the old camp fire ghost stories. 3. The totally sceptical – everything is disproved and explained with a rational solution and the state of mind people were in at the time.

Is there going to be a follow up to Dead of Night?
Yes, it’s nearly finished. It’s a part two called Glimpses in the Twilight. Its going to be more affordable, half the size and feature all aspects of the supernatural. I want it to be a book for other people who aren’t just interested in the paranormal or supernatural.

Tell us about Tales From the Lids – what sort of subjects do cover in this publication?
Since the demise of the iconic fanzine The End, there hasn’t really been a fanzine dealing with Merseyside culture. Not just about football, one also writing about the local music scene, social and political issues, going out, etc. The new issue of Tales From the Lids is going to be out very soon and it’s going to available at HMV in Liverpool and Birkenhead.

Which tales from Dead of Night standout for you as the most alarming?
The rabbit eating Goblin my sister thought she saw when she was about 8 or 9. The guy who mysteriously fell into a large vat of acid at the Tan Yard (British Leather Co) in Birkenhead. The Prenton Doll’s House, where there was a large doll in a little house that was a memorial to dead child.

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