I picture you hanging out with beautiful actresses all day. True?
Did Ricky Gervais's EXTRAS accurately sum up that underappreciated profession?
Some of it is spot on and extras are often overlooked or worse ignored. Of course they're not called extras anymore because the term is considered derogatory - these days they are supporting artists, but it's the same old shit. Scenes in Ricky Gervais extras that I thought are very true to life - are the pecking order at dinner time, artists go first, then the crew and then the extras but most of the Gervais stuff is exaggerated. But I think all supporting artists do have secret ambitions to make it as proper actors and why not? I've seen actors who are utter crap and I know that most of the supporting cast could do better. But at the same time there are some superb actors and all we can do is stand in awe and watch them create magic.
Maybe the funniest story I have of being an extra is when we were standing around on the set of Doctor Who and there was a DALEK next to me. All of a sudden the guy in the DALEK lost control of the eye stalk and it whipped me across the face. A voice came from the DALEK - "Sorry Mate." That made me smile despite the pain.
You're also a cabbie. What has been your most unusual or worst experience?
Well there's never a dull moment that's for sure - I've owned my cab for maybe ten years now and during that time I've gone from working every hour in the day to a thirty to forty hour week. The weekends are the crazy times. I work the graveyard shift largely because that's where the money is. It's also when the nuts are out - over the years I've had my nose broken, been robbed (twice), had a guy die in my car and pretty much seen just about everything. There have been many great times too, mind - you pick up some interesting people and have some wild experiences but I don't really want to dwell on all that. These days I only work to supplement my income and thankfully I can pretty much take it or leave it. Still there's something appealing about driving a group of half dressed young ladies about on a weekend.
What did he die from and how did you handle that?
He was a regular customer, an old guy and he had a heart attack. I thought he'd nodded off as he did that from time to time but when I stopped outside his house and tried to wake him I found he'd passed on. How did I handle it? Well it shook me up at first but other than that I was fine.
Why does The Ripper continue to captivate?
|From The Illustrated London News, 13 October 1888|
I have always been fascinated by the case - I do not swallow the official line that there were only five killings, nor do I believe there was a Jack the Ripper as such. My meaning here is one man, a maniac, stalking the streets in search of prey. That was largely an invention of the press at the time. These were in a sense the first tabloid killings and the Ripper, over the years, has entered folklore.
In A Policeman's Lot the reader knows early on who the killer is but not the reason why, nor what the connection to the Ripper killings are. I am very excited about this - the book really does have a truly new and unique theory as to what was happening back in 1888 and although this is a work of fiction, I do believe that it brings something new to Ripper lore and could open a new avenue of investigation. I repeat I am very excited about the book's potential and am over the moon with my publisher Solstice who are fully behind the project and are very forward looking. I plan to continue the adventures of Inspector Frank Parade over a series of novels but when he solves the Ripper mystery in the very first book - well, where do you go from there?
You have been a success in westerns and now are taking a stab at crime fiction. What's next?
I've just completed another western, The Ballad of Delta Rose and I'd like to alternate between each genre, but saying that I've ideas for future projects that are in neither genre. Mind you I'll never go too far from westerns as it's my first love and even A Policeman's Lot with the inclusion of Buffalo Bill and his circus has elements of the western. Well, in the words of the song, my heroes have always been cowboys.
USA or UK?
I'm a spiritual American but England's first game in the upcoming World Cup (which is huge over here, football being more important than life) is against the USA. So I'll be shouting - "Come on England." Mind you I love all you guys across the pond too.