Runaway

Peter May's Runaway out in UK January 15th 2015

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“The book is beautifully written, funny and poignant, and very different from any I have previously read by the versatile Peter May”
Literary Review

The decision of five teenage boys to leave their homes in Glasgow in 1965 and head for London is led by Jack Mackay when he is expelled from school. His friends need little incentive to run away from abusive families and dead end jobs to pursue fame and fortune as a band.  However, the boys find the reality to be devastatingly different from their dreams, and within less than eight weeks of their departure, just three of them return home, their lives irrevocably damaged.

Fifty years later, in 2015, a brutal murder takes place in London and the three men, who are now in their sixties, are forced to return to the city to confront the demons which have haunted them and blighted their lives for five decades.

Runaway is a gripping crime novel spanning two cities and half a century. This extraordinary work by Peter May explores how aspirations and expectations shape us, and the pivotal yet changeable role that friendships play in our lives.

 

Here is the “story behind the story” and how the inspiration for RUNAWAY came from his own experiences…

Penn&MayForty-five years ago my best friend, Stephen, and I ran away to London. We had just turned 17. I had been expelled from school and taken an awful job at the DNS calculating interest in bank books. One early spring morning I couldn’t stand it any more and walked out.

I used to have to work out the interest in books just like this - ten an hour!

I used to have to work out the interest in books just like this – ten an hour!

I got a train up to my old school and found Stephen in the art department. I told him what I’d done and said I was going to run off to London. “Not without me,” he said. We were playing in a band at the time and when we told the other two in the group they decided to come with us. So we loaded up the group van with our equipment, left notes for our parents and drove off into the night.

We headed off in a van just like this.

We headed off in a van just like this.

We spent a week sleeping in the van in parks and backstreets, trying during the day to get an agency to take us on. Without luck. The only money we made was from busking. Of course, we ended up arguing and Stephen and I split from the other two and found ourselves sleeping on the floor of Euston Station.

We were wearing the same clothes we had run away in. I have a memory of people giving us a wide berth. In the end, filthy and starving, we made a reverse charge call to Stephen’s uncle in London. He came and picked us up and we were able to have a bath and put on clean clothes and get a decent meal. The uncle put us on a train to Glasgow where we were met by our respective fathers at Central Station. (It all came back to me very vividly last year when I had an unscheduled overnight in Glasgow and wandered around the city at first light on the Sunday morning, ending up in Central Station, which seemed still haunted by the memory.) Our fathers must have been wondering how to deal with the situation. In the event, they shook our hands and said, “Well done boys, we’re glad you had the courage to come back.”

Central Station, Glasgow

Central Station, Glasgow

This momentous event in our lives has been recorded for posterity in a song we have written and recorded for our album of the same name, “Runaway”, released for download this weekend. It is also providing the inspiration for the new book which I am currently writing. I have already clocked up 45,000 words as I blog this. And what is the working title of the book? Well, “Runaway” of course!

You can download the album here.

For the album cover, Stephen and I tried to replicate a photograph that was taken of us in a photobooth in Euston Station during that fateful trip. We spent our last half crown on it (never dreaming then, that it would end up all over something called the internet nearly half a century later). It’s an interesting comparison.MAYPENN origmaypenn new

Stephen has designed the album cover that comes as a digital booklet with the downloading of the album. It has all the original photographs, plus the treated versions that we did for the cover. And here you can also catch a glimpse of Stephen and I with Jo, who did much of the backing singing and vocal harmony on the album, lending a touch of professionalism to the creaky voices of the old boys – we are not so much a Boy Band as an Old Boy Band.withJo

And just for a bit of fun, here is one of the out-takes from our attempt to replicate the original photograph. I don’t know how many dozen pictures we took, but we almost invariably broke down in floods of laughter. How we ever managed to get one with straight faces I will never know.maypenn corpsing

And here is the video Stephen made for the title track from the album – Runaway:

8 Responses to Runaway

  1. Pingback: Crime Thriller Book Log: McBride, Kernick, May & Whitney | Crime Thriller Fella

  2. ben0610 says:

    I have just finished reading Runaway (having previously read The Lewis Trilogy and Entry Island). It was strange to read a book with links so close to home. I now live in the flats above The Derby Cafe and my back window looks down towards the sheltered housing where Jack stays in the book.
    Also my son owns Church on the Hill at Battlefield Monument which is mentioned as Jack walks up the hill from the Victoria Hospital.
    Being a similar vintage to Jack and the author I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the flashbacks to the 60s when music was “proper music” as I continually remind my sons.
    Excellent stuff. Thanks

    • Delighted you enjoyed the book. My sister used to frequent the Derby Café, and my mother spent the last couple of years of her life in the sheltered housing behind you – she also died in the Victoria Infirmary. Must try the Church on the Hill next time I am in Glasgow! 🙂

  3. Gunnel Asp says:

    Both my husband and I have recently read Runaway and earlier your Lewis trilogy. It’s quite marvellous to read your books, which are really thrilling and so well composed. How the threads lead to the past and the present and how everything is connected to each other. As we are Swedes it is also a pleasure to read in English even if we don’t understand every single word, but there are dictionaries though … We look forward in taking part of your planned book for the next year.

  4. Corille says:

    Oh my goodness! What a lot of memories that brings back. I never ran away but I grew up in Clarkston , went to Eastwood Secondary School, Mr Tolmie was my English/history teacher ante ice cream and mushy peas at the tallies’ at Clarkston Toll (Tomasso’s in my day); my best freind, Parma lived in Stamperland. After a few years in the Home Counties and two years in Holland I emigrated nearly fifty years ago with my family to Canberra,Australia. Parma also went to Eastwood, was later my bridesmaid and also became an Aussie. She now lives in Brisbane and we see each other from time to time. I have told her about Runaway. It’ll maybe give her a good greet like it did me. Thank you for a great book as well as Auld Lang Syne. Corille Fraser

    • Delighted to bring back happy memories, Corille. Of course, Frank Tolmie was also my English teacher, Norman Shed taught me history, and Jack Peacock and Jack Vernal taught me art. In fact it was Tolmie and Peacock who pleaded my case with Johnnie Anderson when he expelled me. Writing Runaway was a trip down memory lane for me, although it is only semi-autobiographical! My sister was in the café in Clarkston when the son of the owners had his face slashed. She later had to give evidence in the court case against the culprit. I was in Australia earlier this year on a book tour, taking in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. I loved it, and had I been 25 years younger might have thought about emigrating there!

  5. John Whitchurch says:

    Just finished Runaway and wondered if there was a sequel to it after the bodies of Dr Robert and Maurie were found? Could it be that Enzo type forensic skills were used to identify Maurie and then trace the others when the bodies were found days or weeks later.

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