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Baker's Dozen

The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music: Benjamin Myers’ Favourite Music
The Quietus , September 29th, 2021 09:41

Music journalist-turned-novelist Benjamin Myers shares the music that made him a writer from The Slits to Slipknot – and why almost all of it is impossible to write to…

Photo by Richard Saker

Benjamin Myers’ rise from music journalist to bestselling author has been a rare tale that gives great hope to people of tQ’s profession the world over. Starting out on the Melody Maker in the late 90s, Myers graduated to knocking out books on the likes of Muse and Green Day, before moving to the Calder Valley and embarking on a career as a fiction writer. Pig Iron and Beastings displayed a canny ability to capture a kind of Northern gothic, both in people and landscape, that felt fresh and contemporary despite at times unrelenting bleakness (unrelenting bleakness is, of course, always artistically welcome around these parts).

The Gallows Pole, his 2017 breakthrough, managed to consolidate the themes of men governed by brutality – be that the time in which they lived, the weather, exploitation, fate, class, even the steep-sided confines of Yorkshire’s Calder Valley. It’s no surprise that the BBC have seen fit to commission a telly adaptation by Shane Meadows, currently being filmed on location in Hebden Bridge. Myers’ follow-up The Offing was quite a change in direction – a moving account of friendship across the generations and beyond the prejudices of nationalism, set in the years after the Second World War – it currently dominates the German bestseller lists.

This year, he published short story collection Male Tears, which has this week been announced on the longlist for the Portico Literary Prize, a celebration of Northern writing. And if that’s not keeping him busy, he’s recently launched publishing imprint Ration Books, while his next book The Perfect Golden Circle is a novel about two outcasts making crop circles. Here, Myers guides us through a Baker’s Dozen that explores 70s England, a defence of The Doors, becoming a writer, and the joys of watching a Fat White Family “blasted on DMT”.

Ben Myers' new short story collection Male Tears is out now via Blomsbury. To begin reading his Baker's Dozen, click the image of him below