Albert Clack

is creating Short Stories




per month

About Albert Clack

Hi! I'm going to be publishing short stories here on Patreon. This will be an exciting new creative field for me. I'm not aiming at any particular genre. We'll just have to see what pops out. The first one, which I've already written, is comedy science fiction.

I'm an author and an actor. I've published two crime novels, 'Murder at the Theatre Royal' and 'Murder of a British Patriot' and I'm writing a third. I've also edited and published my late father's memoir of his life as a PoW in WWII, 'My Underground War'.

I'm British, live in a small town 40 miles north of London with my wife Fazilet and our two cats, Midnight & Moxie, take acting jobs when there are any, mainly on stage, and write when there aren't, which is most of the time. Oh, and I play poker twice weekly.

It's my intention eventually to offer each patron a free Kindle copy of one of my full-length books as a thank-you; but at the moment the Amazon UK website doesn't have the 'GIve as a Gift' button like the US one does; so we'll have to wait. Watch this space!

For anyone who would like to know more about me, here's an interview I gave recently:

Let's get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

My name is Albert Clack and I’m 71.

Where are you from?

I was born and grew up in Brighton, on the south coast of England. I now live in Letchworth Garden City, 40 miles north of London. In between, I’ve lived in lots of places, including Slovakia, France, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Cuba and Dubai.

A little about your education, family life, etc.

I had a joyful childhood. I grew up on a council estate where there were lots of other post-war baby-boom kids. It was an age when few people had cars, so we could play outside safely. In summer, little gangs of us trooped off unsupervised for the day to the beach or the Sussex Downs. There were no mobile phones to keep tabs on us, and no gigantic cars to ferry us around in, insulated from the world. We had far fewer material possessions than kids today, my parents didn’t buy a TV set until I was ten, and of course there were no computers to bury our heads in. So we learned to read at a young age, played board games in each other’s houses on rainy days, and as we approached our teens we joined youth clubs and learned to play things like snooker and ping-pong. I went everywhere on foot, by bike, or on the bus, as my Dad didn’t get a car until I was about 17. I went to Varndean Grammar School in Brighton, then gained a BA in French & Russian at Bradford University, and an MA in International Relations at Sussex University. I’m now married to a wonderful lady called Fazilet Hadi, who is a senior executive in a big charity. I have a son called Duncan from my first marriage, and a grandson called Heath.

Tell us your latest news.

As an author, I’m currently writing ‘Murder of a Professor’, the third in the series of my Inspector Warren Mysteries. As an actor, I’ve just been recording additional audio for my role as a ‘shock-jock’ phone-in host in ‘Radio London’, a film noir about the War on Terror, which has been entered for this year’s Cannes Film Festival. As a poker player, I’m the same old rubbish.

When and why did you begin writing?

During my 38 years as an international journalist I started several novels, and given that I rubbed shoulders with communist and fascist politicians, diplomats and spies while living in Buenos Aires, Belgrade and Havana, it’s no surprise that those attempts were in the Cold War intrigue genre. The trouble was, I was always so busy reporting on the real thing for the world’s media that I never finished any of the books.

What inspired you to write your first book?

After retiring from journalism in 2006, I launched into a ‘third life’ career as an actor. In 2013 I played Polonius in Hamlet in London, then went on tour around England in The Pickwick Papers. Meanwhile I had become an avid reader of crime novels. And so it came about that, while I was sitting in a dressing-room in the Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke, the idea came to me: why not write my own crime novel, using my knowledge of the theatrical world? I thought of poor old Polonius, whom Hamlet mistakenly kills with a sword through a curtain, then drags his body out on to the stage. What if the actor playing Polonius had really been murdered behind the curtain, and the actor playing Hamlet found himself dragging a real corpse into full view of 600 people in the audience? And that was how ‘Murder at the Theatre Royal’ was born.

How did you come up with the title?

I toyed with titles based on quotes from Hamlet, but decided that would look as if I was trying to look clever. I wanted to write a series, so I went for the obvious choice: titles starting with the word ‘Murder’. The second one, already published, is ‘Murder of a British Patriot’, in which the victim is the leader of a far-right political party who is shot dead while campaigning during the 2016 Brexit referendum. Was the killer a Muslim terrorist? Was it a political assassination? Or was the motive non-political? Is it connected with the drugs gang warfare going on at the same time? And what could possibly connect the victim with the 1984 miners’ strike?

Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

My writing is driven by plot and dialogue. I want to entertain readers by getting them so involved with ‘whodunit’ that they forget to turn off the bedside lamp. I write in scenes rather than chapters, and drive the story along by jumping between the main plot and sub-plots. I’m economical with descriptions of people and places, giving just enough to allow the reader’s imagination to fill in the rest. I like to build perceptions of characters through what they say and do. My cops are real people with personal lives, but this aspect is also dealt with economically.

How much of the book is realistic
and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Given that my plots and sub-plots are mostly about murder, violence, robbery, drug-dealing and general skulduggery, you may be pleased to learn that not a lot is based on my own experience. However, a friend who was part of a cocaine gang for ten years helped me with information about gang warfare for ‘Murder of a British Patriot’. Scenes from the 1984 miners’ strike in Yorkshire are based accurately on what I was told in interviews with some of the Fleet Street printers who stood with the miners on their picket lines, one of whom was my next-door neighbour in London. The boarding kennels where a key scene takes place in ‘Murder at the Theatre Royal’ is based on one owned by one of my poker-playing friends.

To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

It’s the other way around. My books are set in London, and I incorporate places I’ve been to, such as when I’ve been traipsing around as an actor looking for rehearsal rooms or filming locations in obscure places. When I’ve got time, I sometimes go off-piste in some of the poorer parts to soak up atmosphere on housing estates and in industrial areas. I’ve lived in various parts of London, so our great capital city is hardly unknown territory. Inspector Warren’s wife is from Argentina, where I lived for a total of four years, so I’m tempted to come up with a future story that involves him in going there to investigate; as an excuse for me to go back for a month or so. Needless to say, if I ever do that, it’ll be during their summer, which is our winter!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Definitely not. My sole purpose is to entertain. Some of my characters express political opinions, but they differ widely. Take, for example, the two main cops: Detective Inspector Warren grew up in a rather posh Oxford academic family, holds liberal views, and opposes Brexit. His sidekick, Detective Sergeant Philippa Myers, comes from a self-made, working-class family in east London, holds conservative views, and supports Brexit. DC Georgina Stanbridge is a vociferous feminist, and it comes out at briefing meetings when she objects to sexist remarks. But those are the opposing views of my characters, not mine. There is no authorial ‘message’.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

I’ll just mention a few books that I’ve particularly enjoyed in recent years: A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks, Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd, Headlong by Michael Frayn, Absolute Friends by John le Carré, and in Spanish, El Verdugo de Dios by Toti Martínez de Lezea. Favourite author: Graham Greene, because of his universal empathy, broad horizons, and willingness to share his existential angst.

Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

Yes. What a patient woman my wife is. Seriously, though, every line of research, especially when it involves meeting up with people who inhabit worlds of which I know little or nothing, is a valuable and enjoyable learning experience. For the book I am writing now, ‘Murder of a Professor’, I am exploring the impact of so-called political correctness on university campuses, as well as academic corruption, and the risks that an anthropologist runs in Africa. I have read up on the Nigerian Civil War and the Rwandan Genocide, and interviewed a university anthropology lecturer, the son of the late Biafran Ambassador to the UK, and an ambulance paramedic on exactly what happens when a patient is rushed to hospital with an acute kidney stone

Any advice for other writers?

Make sure you’ve got plenty of biscuits and tea-bags in the house before you sit down.

Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

Not one, but a small group: the anonymous Russian soldiers who liberated my father from captivity in Germany in 1945. Why? Simply to hug them, thank them, and crack a bottle of vodka. (Dad’s true PoW story, which I edited and published, is called ‘My Underground War’).

Do you have any hobbies?

I play in pub poker leagues, go to lots of plays with my wife, and we both enjoy travel and country walks. I fight an annual losing battle against brambles and weeds in our garden.

Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Carry on acting, and maybe set up an R&B band with other elderly rockers; at which point my wife would probably have me certified as insane.

Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

Recent posts by Albert Clack

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