I know many authors get somewhat offhand about seeing their name in the acknowledgements of other writers’ books. However, whatever form it takes, under no circumstances do I get blasé about seeing my name in print. Never.
Possibly this is because according to some of my teachers at school, the only thing I was going to do was spend my life on the dole. I find it hard to forget I am a working class oik who was too poor and too intimidated to take up a scholarship to Oxford. I might have been a clever bastard, but I did not fit in, did not play the game. I have always been too leftfield for my own good. Far too gauche. Yet despite the fact I am not much more than an Essex barrow boy, I have somehow managed to end up selling books on three continents and half a dozen languages. I cannot ever get nonchalant about that fact or the nods of other authors who kindly recognise me in their work.
Part of the reason I ended up being able to get into print was because as a teenager I discovered the spirit of punk. It gave me the idea that anyone could transcend their origins, break through the barriers of class and money that people like to pretend do not exist. Punk taught me that if you had ideas, had energy and were not lazy then there was a chance you could find an audience for what you had to say on your own terms.
Whilst the ethos of punk might not throw up heroes as such, it has provided me with various teachers and role models across the years. John Lydon, T.V. Smith, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins and even Malcolm McLaren have produced work that has given me hints on everything from self-reliance to spin-doctoring.
One of my unsung punk teachers has been Andrew Collins. When I was 18, this eccentric writer and former lead singer of The Disease - who had knocked around with Tony Parsons, Shane McGowan and other scenesters on from the early days of Sex Pistols - showed me you really could apply punk principals to publishing. Here was a totally leftfield Essex boy who had not gone to university and was selling 10,000 copies of his self-published work The Black Alchemist.
These days Mr. Collins is writing books on astroarchaeology and our Neolithic ancestors for mainstream publishers, being lauded by the likes of Jeremy Narby and still reminding me that an Essex boy can beat the odds and get published. Therefore, when I find my name in the acknowledgements of his latest work – The Cygnus Mystery – being thanked for ‘inspirational insights’, I promise you, I am not blasé.