Here at Manchester Libraries we’re working as hard as ever to keep our wonderful book loving borrowers happy and fulfilled. We know how popular author sessions are so we’ve racked our brains about how we can maintain these virtually.

Welcome to the next edition of ‘Library Locals’. An occasional chat with our favourite Manchester based authors about their writing process, which books they have turned to during lockdown and what they love about Manchester!

We were very lucky to have a chat with Joseph Knox the best selling author and creator of the brilliantly dark and gritty Detective Aidan Waits novels. But, don’t take our word for it. Check out these reviews below –

‘Great read. A powerful piece of Manchester noir, brutal, poignant and dark as tar’ Cath Staincliffe

‘Sirens is a powerhouse of noir. Joseph Knox owns Manchester and paints it in all its grimy colours’ Val McDermid

‘Gritty as hell. I loved it. A great urban cop thriller’ Ian Rankin

‘Simply Stunning’ Mark Billingham

‘Razor sharp urban noir. Very special indeed’ Lee Child

Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively. His debut novel Sirens was a bestseller and has been translated into eighteen languages. The Sleepwalker is the third book in the Aidan Waits series.

Hi Joseph, thanks for chatting to us today. How was lockdown for you?

I feel like I was very fortunate to be barrelling my way through the writing of a new book when lockdown struck. It meant that I was distracted from current events for 15 hours a day, and that my girlfriend got to see me actually doing some work. 

How has Manchester influenced your writing?

Manchester was the first place I ever had my heart broken, and the first place I ever had my nose broken too. Romance and violence are the absolute bedrock of my writing, and Manchester’s where I got my crash course in both.

What are you reading during lockdown….any recommendations?

Strangely enough I’m reading a lot of books about Hollywood. Screenwriters are famously the lowest of the low in Hollywood, which is why their books are always so much fun. Recently I’ve been reading Joe Esterhas’s Hollywood Animal. He wrote Basic Instinct, amongst other things, and it’s essentially just story after story of madcap encounters with producers, stars and valley girls. These books are so far away from my experience that they’re just pure escapism. I’d REALLY recommend the classic screenwriter tome, Adventures in the Screentrade by William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride. 

What do libraries mean to you?

I very much doubt I’d be a writer without one. I grew up in Stoke on Trent and not only did I get some of my formative reads there but I also loved looking at more grown up books as a kid, and have a few that I spent YEARS wondering about before I was old enough to read them. I think that’s great imaginative muscle for a kid to be using. 

Manchester Central library really saved my arse when I was in my early twenties. I used to sit in there reading all day when I was working in bars at night, but there was also a great range of DVDs and CDs which were like a lifeline to a broke and culturally starved kid. The first time I ever heard Tom Waits was from a CD I took from Manchester Central library, and I believe I also watched a production of Waiting for Godot in the basement theatre (pre-refit). Well, books, music, films and plays are basically everything to me, so you can imagine what the place meant. 

What can our readers look forward to from you?

I’ve just finished a new novel that I hope will be released in 2021. It’s set in Manchester, mainly in the student village in Owens Park, and is written as though it’s a true crime book about a young woman who went missing from there. 

Preference – ebook or paperback?

I love that ebooks are convenient for so many, but when I went travelling for four months last year, I’m afraid I took a MASSIVE stack of books with me. Backbreaking but the only way I enjoy reading. 

Any pearls of lockdown wisdom to share with our borrowers?

Log out of twitter immediately. Read as little news as possible. You’ll add ten years to your life expectancy

Most importantly! Lockdown hair!  Are you growing, colouring or cropping?

Growing – I’ve got a glorious redneck mullet coming in, and I’ve grown a moustache for the amusement of my friends in zoom conversations. Just hoping no one screen grabs a picture and destroys my miserable cynic image.

Thanks so much Joseph for taking the time to be interviewed and supporting Manchester Libraries!

If this interview has tempted you to read more of Joseph’s novels, you can click and collect them here from your library or reserve the e-book for free.