Back in the Star cafe in Soho with author Gordon Williams. It’s in the heart of his old stamping ground which he wrote about so vividly in Big Morning Blues, an account of Soho in the late sixties. It’s hard to believe the Star can have changed much since then. Big Morning Blues was the book he wrote after Straw Dogs (originally The Siege of Trenchers Farm). It’s also the one Reinkarnation publishes. I’d like to say it’s a much better book; but I can’t – I have never read Straw Dogs. It turns out neither has Gordon.
‘There wasn’t time’, he says. Back in those days Mayflower Books was offering £300 per manuscript – and it was a route Gordon had used before to earn some quick money. So he typed fast.
‘I wrote the book in nine and a half days’ he says.
There was a local delivery van ( Williams lived in an isolated farmhouse, not unlike the setting for Straw Dogs) and he knew the driver well enough to ask him to drop his manuscript off at the village Post Office.
‘He had an afternoon delivery. I finished typing and started wrapping up the parcel – and then I remembered I’d forgotten about the cat’.
An unresolved plot point that Williams resolved by unwrapping the parcel, typing an extra last sentence and then hastily rewrapping everything in time to get it on the van.
‘And I think there is still a guy stuck up a drainpipe somewhere.’ But if it was a problem it wasn’t enough to worry his agent George Greenfield who got Secker and Warburg to buy it.
And now the remake of Straw Dogs is out in 3 months. Set in America this time. Ample payback for the quickest book he ever wrote?
‘It wasn’t the quickest’, says Williams. ‘I did one in three days’.