Crafty Confessions of An Author – Matteo Sedazzari
‘All authors have secrets, here are mine!’
When I was first approached by Paul Hallam to write a story for his publishing company about being a Mod in the suburbs, which turned out to be my debut novel A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of A Teenage Mod, I accepted the offer straight away, as via my website ZANI I have been writing for several years, which I do enjoy. My articles, then and now, are well received so I didn’t and still don’t lack the confidence, ability, or discipline, yet what concerned me was the deliverance. I didn’t want to be an old Mod reminiscing about one’s salad days, which I believed would be tiresome, and lack any entertainment value. Nor did I want to tell the accurate account of my early days as a Mod, as again, I thought that would be rather dull, just like a man in the pub telling anyone that will listen about how many fights he has supposedly won.
I turned to Alan Bleasdale’s Scully, a lively story about a working-class teenager in Liverpool, Terry Taylor’s Baron’s Court, All Change, a factual account of the underground jazz scene in 1950s London, even Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, about the plight of a man in St Petersburg in the 19th Century. All these books are written in the first person, as I wanted my novel to be in the first person. Yet it was Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the escapades of two young teenagers on the Mississippi River in the late 19th Century, narrated in the moment in their dialect and their age. That was precisely what I wanted for my book as if a kid is telling the story, so I worked hard to make the writing authentic.
I was slightly tempted to entitle the novel, When You’re Young, after the song by The Jam or The Who’s The Kids are Alright. Yet, in true mod sensibilities, I wanted a unique title that gave the book identity of rebellion and youth. The first thing that came to my head was having a cigarette with my school friends, who weren’t Mods, on a school field, away from the teachers. We smoked to be one of the lads, and it was anti-establishment. Therefore, we were disobedient without anyone knowing, and if you got caught, so what? It was only a Crafty Cigarette.
So, I had the title and the narrative. I outlined the main plot, the principal, the key characters and 12 chapters in an evening after dinner. Then I created a schedule and a deadline, which have never been a problem.
Once the logistics were in place, the creativity was magical. The writing took me on a trip down memory lane, as I recalled the excitement I experienced when I first heard The Jam, the burning desire I had to be a Mod, the yearning to being smartly dressed, the aspiration to be different, not to be put down by teachers and other peers. At an early age, like many others, I had found a voice and a purpose. Furthermore, creating a fictional world loosely, and I emphasize loosely, based on my friends and me, really did fire my imagination. I became a teenager again, in the comfort of my own home.
As I was writing, I sent chapters to close family and friends for genuine feedback, not reassurance, and they all loved it. Once I had completed the final draft, I telephoned John Cooper Clarke, who I had become friends with after interviewing him for ZANI, and I asked him politely and confidently if he would like to do the foreword. John asked to see the book before he agreed. A month or so later he called and gave me a mind-blowing foreword; I was in Mod heaven.
Once Paul McEvoy (the designer) and I agreed on a simple yet effective front cover, off to market it went. Within six months, sales were picking up, which made me decide to publish A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod under the banner of my website ZANI. For the record, it was a professional not a personal decision to depart from Paul Hallam, and we are still talking to this day. Fast forward to the present, A Crafty Cigarette is still going well, with a good percentage of favourable reviews from the independent press and public alike. I received and still do, messages from readers telling me how much they love the novel, always touching. The book has received endorsements from Irvine Welsh and actor Phil Davis. There are photographs of Paul Weller, Rick Buckler, Terence Stamp, Mark Wingett, and Nick Moran with ‘A Crafty Cigarette’, as I always had a copy at hand in my rucksack.
The seeds for me to be an author/someone are sown, for I have now written and published two more novels; a ZANI Tales trilogy, The Magnificent Six in Tales of Aggro, with a foreword by The Style Council and Paul Weller’s former drummer, Steve White, an anthology about six casuals and their families in White City, Shepherds Bush, influenced by classic TV shows like Minder, Only Fools and Horses and a few more. This year, I published my first fantasy novel, Tales from The Foxes of Foxham, with illustrations by Andy Catling, a magical adventure story packed with colourful characters and exciting situations in a battle of good versus evil. Set in 1950’s Naples and Norfolk. Inspired by the books of my childhood, The Wind in Willows, 101 Dalmatians, The Enchanted Wood, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many more.
Aside from my work, ZANI has proudly published A.G. R’s 7PS and 7PS II’ an exciting plot-twisting thriller. Paolo Sedazzari’s Feltham Made Me, with a foreword by Mark Savage AKA Gripper from Grange Hill, which is a story about three teenagers growing up in Feltham during the 1970s and 1980s. Dean Cavanagh’s witty, brutal, poignant, and philosophical novel, The Secret Life of The Novel and Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh’s Performers, staged at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017 about the cult film from the 1960s, Performance. I have found marketing these books a great learning curve and frustrating, as the world of publishing is quite a closed shop. But I believe instead of pressing your nose on the cold glass door of a shop with a closed sign, you build your own shop next door, DIY culture at its finest. From writing to marketing, all the above made me rediscover the essence of being a Mod, be it looking sharp, thinking smart, and writing my rule book, with Eddie and the Hot Rods, classic song Do Anything You Wanna Do, spurring me on…..
Editor and Author – www.zani.co.uk
ZANI Ezine – Online Optimism