Name Joe Lawrence
Where are you from
I’ve always lived in or around East London, so I am proud to call myself a Londoner. Dad’s family were originally from Bermondsey and Mums were from East Ham. I was born in Barking, which is on the borders of Essex and East London. I left school at 16 and became a Butcher. I had my own shop before I was 20 and after that worked at Smithfield Market for a while. I’ve also been a Postman, a Cleaner, a Financial Advisor and up until recently ran my own Courier Company in central London. Now my life has turned full circle. I’m once again a Butcher.
And, for three weeks when I was 21, I screwed the tops onto Thermos Flasks!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m a proud Dad. My son Tom is doing well in his business, and my daughter is an English teacher at a local primary school. My youngest step daughter is getting married next year and my eldest step daughter is going to make me a Grandad next year. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always liked to write. I started writing short stories in around 1997 but I suppose I started seriously in 2011.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t. I may write, but I’m no writer!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book I wrote I’ve never published. I called it “Missing Years” and it still sits on my laptop. For years I’d had this story in my head that just wouldn’t go away. I’d always been fascinated by people who go missing then turn up years later. My idea was that an ordinary man goes out for a jog early one morning and never returns. Well, he does, but 25 years later. He has no memory of where he’s been during that time and he hasn’t aged! It’s a mystery and also a voyage of discovery as he tries to find out where he’s been. But it’s also about the relationships with the people he left behind. His daughter is now the same age as he is. His wife is 25 years older and remarried. His father is an old man. It’s a bit dark and I was never really satisfied with the outcome. Maybe one day I’ll go back and re-write it. But it was a great experience and it made me want to try again. So I started a true story. My own. And that’s how I began to write “The East End Butcher Boy”.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to write in a style that I enjoy reading. It’s been described as sharp and snappy. A friend of mine said it reminded him of Bill Naughton who wrote “Alfie”. I take that as a huge compliment!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I didn’t. My wife Jill did. The original title was “Butcher Boy”, but I soon realized that there are other books out there with the same title. Jill suggested adding “East End” so that was it “The East End Butcher Boy” came into existence.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. It’s a coming of age story that includes, loyalty and friendship, but also lies and betrayal.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of it is real and the experiences are true. I had to change certain names and places for legal reasons. The story is set in the mid to late nineteen seventies. It includes me but it’s really about my boss Roy and how his life and activities affected and influenced my own.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I know I shouldn’t really admit to this, but I don’t read many books. Maybe two or three a year. I like anything by John le Carre and I’m a big fan of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child ( especially the early ones)..
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
It’s difficult to mention new authors because I don’t read many new books. But Jack O’Donnell,s book Lily Poole is outstanding and demanded to be published. My favourite author is Charles Bukowski. Factotum is a real outstanding read for me. It’s so raw and honest that it makes you sit up and take notice. He’s a hero of mine. Now there’s a man that could write, drink and be obnoxious all at the same time!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
ABCtales. I started writing on the site in 2011 and became hooked. It’s a free writing site and it’s really helped me improve my writing. I’m now an Editor on the site and try to help and encourage other writers as much as I can.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
No way. I love writing but you have to be REALLY good at it to make any money out of it. I was approached 2 years ago about making “The East End Butcher Boy” into a film. We had two meetings and I’m still waiting but not holding my breath…
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. It’s out there and that’s it.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always been a strong dreamer. I enjoy the stories that seem to come out of my dreams. Sometimes I’ll wake up with a big smile on my face having really enjoyed the dream. So I have to write it down before it escapes.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m hoping to finish my new book “Who is Jack Winter” by the end of this year. It’s at around 45,000 words and is about an alcoholic, womanizing, drug addict that also happens to be a prominent Politician! You’ll like him.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Time. Writing takes time and time is precious. There is always something taking you away from it.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. But I always manage to mention a place I know in a story.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I found an old photo of the dome at Smithfield Market from the 1970’s. It seemed appropriate so that became the cover.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Knowing when it was finished. I kept adding bits and taking bits out. I edited it over and over again. I re-wrote whole chapters and was never really satisfied. But there comes a time when you have to say enough! Just get it out there.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Don’t give up. When you think you can’t do it anymore, take a break and come back to it.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
The lead role is Roy (my boss), he would have to played by Luke Evans, the welsh actor. The likeness is uncanny! Me? Maybe Plan B ( Ben Drew).
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy the read. If you do…then please give feedback. It really does help.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
My View From The Corner by Angelo Dundee.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was a gift from out next door neighbor. I was only five years old and had just learnt to read. Mr Russ gave me the book and it was a thing of beauty. It took me a while but I loved the story. After that I read Treasure Island.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Silly films make me laugh. I can’t watch “Airplane” or any of the “Naked Gun” films without laughing every few seconds even though I know what’s coming next. Anything to do with animals especially dogs in distress makes me cry like a baby. When the TV programme “Supervets” comes on, I’m crying within minutes…
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d loved to have spent a day with Charles Bukowski. I’m not sure if I’d have survived but wow what a day that would have been. I can imagine beer being drunk, blood being spilled, songs being sung and maybe, just maybe a cuddle at the end. Fabulous…
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
No headstone. Just sprinkle my ashes somewhere along the Thames.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I’m a West Ham supporter and go to every home match so I love Football. But also Horse racing and boxing. I HATE cricket! And music. I couldn’t live without music.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Sopranos and Breaking Bad were right up my street.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Meat. Blue. Jazz/Funk/Soul.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Play a musical instrument really, really well. I play piano ( badly), But the Saxophone is my absolute favourite. I tried for years to play a Tenor Sax. I was useless.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Three that are important.