WHEN IT comes to the Northern Ireland literary scene, Paul Charles – who comes to Flowerfield on August 13 at 8pm to read from his new novel The Last Dance – is something quite unique.
In addition to carving an enviable reputation for his crime fiction, Paul has been one of the key players in the international music scene for many years, as a key partner in the music promotion company Asgard.
It all started from humble beginnings, though, says Paul: “I managed my first group, The Blues by Five, when I was fifteen years old and my business card listed the number of the local telephone box in Magherafelt. I moved to London when I was seventeen years old and studied to be a civil engineer, but the music business was my real distraction.”
Paul’s real education began when he took on the multiple roles of manager, lyricist, roadie, sound-engineer and agent for the Belfast band Fruupp, who signed to Dawn Records and worked around the UK and Europe for several years in the early seventies.
Although Fruupp eventually spilt, Paul had met Paul Fenn and the pair went on to form Asgard who became a touring agency for a wide range of quality music acts including: Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, John Lee Hooker, Rory Gallagher, Ry Cooder, Tom Waits, Van Morrison and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Paul has also programmed the acoustic stage at Glastonbury Festival for the last 17 years.
“But as well as all of that,” says Paul, “I’m also a committed book reader—and collector—particularly British Detective fiction. So in 1996, inspired by Colin Dexter (the creator of Inspector Morse), I attempted my first Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy Mystery, I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass, which was published the following year.”
Nine further Christy Kennedy titles followed, in addition to a number of other novels based on other detective characters, and a couple of non-fiction titles. For Paul’s latest novel, The Last Dance, (published by New Island, May 2012) the author called upon memories from his days with Blues by Five.
“It is the story of the Playboys Showband from Castlemartin, up on the Lough Neagh shore in Country Derry, and in particular the their lead singer Martin Dean. Unlike the majority of the books,” says Paul, “it’s not a crime story but there is a bit of mystery: If the Playboys were, as they claimed, nudging the ranks of the top 10 showbands in Ireland in the early 1960s, what did they do to have their name pretty much removed from all the history books?”
Flowerfield is presenting this evening in partnership with No Alibis bookstore in Belfast. Some refreshments will be served and admission is free. Call the reception staff on (028) 7083 1400 for more information and to let us know you’ll be attending.