Stoke Newington Literary Festival

The upper room the White Hart pub was full, with standing at the back for the event at Stoke Newington Literary Festival.  Joe Duggan, the brilliant Irish poet, kicked off with poems from West Belfast, describing how it felt to live in a community gripped by fear. Then I had an hour long Q&A session with with ex-con Shaun Attwood. Shaun, dressed all in black like his hero Johnny Cash, was imprisoned in Arizona for 6 years for dealing ecstasy and graphically demonstrated the horrific acts of gang violence he witnessed inside. His book is called HARD TIME.  The London section of HOOD RAT was set not far from Stokey, in Hackney, which was in the headlines recently when a 15 year old hitman shot dead a mother for £200. This mirrors the HOOD RAT character Troll who I met – a 14 year old Somali enforcer who is constantly pressured by older boys to carry out violent acts of revenge.

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