Fleeing an abusive father in Ireland, peasant-girl, May Sharpe chases her dream of a new glamorous life.
Arriving penniless in 1919’s America, beautiful May is charmed by successful con-man, Eddie. With her new lover’s guidance, teenage May becomes the city’s ‘Queen of Crooks’.
Joe, a tenacious local cop, has fallen for the beautiful, feisty May and is determined to save her from herself. In the midst of her glitzy life, he urges May to make a decision; a decision which would threaten, not only her new-found fame and fortune, but, her young life…
Inspired by a true story
When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in my study the morning. When I wrote for deadlines for television, I would write all day and sometimes at night, but I think the creative process only has so many hours before it loses focus. However, I keep a notebook by my bed and, often in the middle of the night, I jot down notes about the next day’s writing.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
Luckily, where I live is very peaceful, which is perfect for me for writing.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Too many authors to choose from really. From the past, W.M. Thackeray. My heroine in CHICAGO MAY has many of the same qualities as his protagonist, Becky Sharp, in VANITY FAIR.
From today, Ben Elton early novels are so varied and move along quickly, which is what I prefer [probably having written so much television drama, which has to move along to hold the audience.]
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Good and bad, which always makes for more interesting characters.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
Maybe Emma Thompson. She is a superb actress, and also an excellent screenwriter. I think she would be wonderful to talk about writing characters.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
I have a large comfortable armchair, which looks out at the fields outside our house.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Probably doing publicity for our local social club. I am the voluntary publicity person. I design posters/leaflets, and write short articles about our programme of events for the local newspaper and magazines.
At the moment I am organising a Book Fair at the club, for authors in the Warwickshire area.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Relief! It’s taken me 30 years to write my latest one, ISLAND OF DREAMS.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
My first novel was simple. CHICAGO MAY was the name my real-life inspiration came up with for herself, after she had pulled a jewel heist in Chicago.
My teenage novel was also easy. It’s called BIRTH OF THE MALL RATS, because it’s the story of how a teenage group came together, when trying to survive in a world where all the adults had died because of the virus!
ISLAND OF DREAMS is because all the characters have their own dreams, while living in Cuba in the years leading up to Castro’s revolution.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I was trained in art, so I generally have an idea of the image I want. Then, I give it to a friend of mine who is a graphic artist, and he works his magic.
Thank you, Harry Duffin and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
I am an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s EASTENDERS, and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for CORONATION STREET. I was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner. I was co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘THE TRIBE’, which ran for five series.
I have written two novels, CHICAGO MAY and BIRTH OF THE MALL RATS [an intro to the TV series THE TRIBE].
CHICAGO MAY is the first book of a two-part series.