Archive for the Books Category

Author interview – Calvin Wade

Posted in Authors, Books, FA Cup, Family life, Football with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

I first came across author Clavin Wade after reading his very enjoyable ‘Another Saturday & Sweet F.A’, where he follows a team from the very start of the FA Cup right through to the FA Cup final. He has since  written two more books covering the FA Trophy and FA Vase. If that wasn’t enough he has also written a series of fiction books! You can find out more about his books on his Amazon page.


What inspired you to start writing and how did you manage to get your writing noticed

From the age of about 17 or 18, I was always writing things that I never finished and then one day, in 2006 (by which time I was 35) I was listening to Radio 5 Live and they were wanting listeners to write 5 minute monologues with a World Cup theme for Johnny Vegas, Sheridan Smith or Kwame Kwei-Armah from Casualty. I thought I could write a pretty funny one for Johnny Vegas so I wrote it flat out in about fifteen minutes and sent it off. Luckily the BBC liked it and it was the first entry to air with Johnny Vegas performing it. It was played on the first day of the World Cup and then again on a Christmas Day special. It was called ‘I Hate Football’ and it was about Johnny Vegas’ character hating football but then falling in love with a football mad lady who had a life sized poster of Wayne Rooney above their bed and every night he had to lift her up so she could kiss his fourth metatarsal better.

From that very small taste of success, I thought I could write a book so spent about three years writing a very long novel called ‘Forever Is Over‘. Initially, I just badgered friends and friends of friends to buy it and then word of mouth led to the Irish novelist Cathy Kelly hearing about it and she put me in touch with the directors of a London literacy agency called Curtis Brown. They ended up dropping me fairly quickly (as they were dealing with proper literary stars like Jojo Moyes) but they passed on some invaluable advice including to get my book on to Kindle as soon as possible and that’s when the hundreds of sales became tens of thousands of sales (unfortunately it never became hundreds of thousands or millions)!

Who would you say are authors you admire and why?

I have always liked writers who can tell a great tale without necessarily having to confuse me with long words. When I was in my twenties I loved John Irving’s books (I still do) and then writers like Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons came along when I was in my thirties and I found their stuff very readable. More recently I’ve really enjoyed Matthew Quick’s ‘The Silver Linings Play Book’.

You have written a number of fiction books. Which do you find easier to write, non-fiction or fiction?

I find non-fiction a million times easier to write than fiction! As a child I always kept a diary which was probably quite unusual for a boy. My non-fiction is probably just an extension of that. Grown up diary writing with a footballing theme. With fiction, I really need to be in the mood to write it and have to think hard about what direction I want things to go in and who would say what and why. With non-fiction, everyone else creates the events for me and I just write about them. I think I have probably overdone the footballing books now though and if I write another non-fiction book it will be horse racing or cricket.

How did  you meet up with Alan Oliver?

It was pure fate. I had decided to go to every round of the FA Cup and after the draw was made decided to start at West Didsbury & Chorlton v Abbey Hey. There were two reasons for this, firstly because I used to live in both West Didsbury & Chorlton as a student and secondly, because the winners were due to play Burscough, a team I had briefly played for. Alan had also decided to do every round that season and as a Mancunian had also decided to start at West Didsbury & Chorlton. 24 hours before the game, I read something on WD&C’s website about Alan so contacted him, we met up at the first game and have been mates since. Alan is a proper ‘groundhopper’ whilst I am just a football fan.


Your books are very open about your personal life….

It’s very natural for me to be candid and I think the hardest bit is to hold back a little to avoid upsetting other people who may not be as candid as me. My wife, for example, is always telling me off for letting everyone know our business good or bad! My wife is, in many ways, a lot more private than I am, so I have to bear that in mind.

Highs and lows of Everton’s current season…

The highs from a general perspective has been Koeman turning around the gradual depressing slide under Roberto Martinez and returning to being a Top 7 side. Hopefully (even if Lukaku and Barkley go) we can build further on it next season. Seamus Coleman was having a great season which was a high but then his broken leg on international duty was the real low.

Who would  you like Everton to sign?

He has his critics but I think Joe Hart is a far better keeper than any of the four keepers on Merseyside at the moment so if we could afford him, I would like Hart. I would also like us to further strengthen the spine of the side, we will need a centre back (as Jags can’t go on forever), a central defensive midfielder (as the same applies to Gareth Barry) and a centre forward (as Lukaku wants to move on and I think there will be a bid to tempt him this summer).

Do you think non-League is undergoing a resurgence?

Non-League crowds remain healthy helped by a lot of people being priced out of Premier League fixtures. Personally I found the FA Trophy campaign just as enjoyable as the FA Cup and enjoy going to watch the likes of Southport, Chorley or North Ferriby United almost as much as watching Everton. In the North West though, it has been disappointing to see Southport, Burscough and Skelmersdale United all going through very difficult times.

Other Footy Stuff...

My eldest son is now an under 18 at Rochdale so I enjoy watching him (and my other son) play most of all. Tomorrow (I’m writing this on Friday 21st April) I am off down to Shrewsbury to watch Shrewsbury v Rochdale (u18s) which will be great. Whilst mentioning Rochdale, I’ve probably seen their first team six or seven times this season and enjoy the family feel they still manage to retain there. They also manage to punch above their weight so I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing them surprise a number of sides at Spotland. I am excited about next season as it will be my son’s last season in the Academy and I am hoping he can push on and earn himself a professional contract.

Book Links

Grant signs and Frank Soo book

Posted in Books, Football, football transfers, Stoke City FC, The Premiership with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Stoke have signed goalkeeper Lee Grant from Derby County on a permanent contract following a loan spell since last August. He has joined on a two and half year contract for a few of £1.3m.

We have three players at the African Cup of Nations this month – Bony, Diouf and Sobhi.Bony had been the subject of a possible move to China but he seems to be staying out to see his season long loan out and get back into the starting XI.

Not much else transfer wise bar the possibility of Peter Crouch and Ibrahim Afellay both being offered new deals as their current ones finish this summer. Quite a few players are out of contract this summer including Glen Johnson, Stephen Ireland, Charlie Adam, Phil Bardsley and Shay Given. Plus we’ve still got Dionatan Teixeira on our books until June!!!

Recently published is a biography of Stoke player Frank Soo called ‘The Wanderer’ by Susan Gardiner. You can see more here at


The Rock N Roll Oatcake Facebook page

Posted in Books, Mix tape, Music for 2016, News, Stoke City FC, theatre on March 23, 2016 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

I may have been doing this blog for eight years this month now but haven’t had a companion Facebook page…until now 🙂 You can like the page here

Thank you

Hot Air Literary Festival 2016

Posted in Authors, Books, News, Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival with tags , , , , , on February 22, 2016 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

A true celebration of outstanding writing and brilliant books, the UK’s only “festival in a factory” Hot Air Literary Festival 2016 returns to the creative surroundings of the Emma Bridgewater Factory in Stoke-on-Trent from 9-11 June and will welcome the very best writers, novelists, poets and playwrights to the city to inspire and foster a love of books and reading.

The Festival opens on Thursday 9 June with one of Britain’s finest novelists Nick Hornby, leading international ceramicist Edmund de Waal, acclaimed Roman historian Mary Beard and Emma Bridgewater herself in conversation at the factory that makes her iconic ceramics to discuss celebrating thirty years of design inspirations.

Joining the line up on Friday 10 June will be one of Channel 4’s most popular presenters Kirstie Allsopp talking about the universal need to make, award winning novelist Meg Rosoff discussing her first book for adults and former England cricketer Graeme Fowler in conversation about his starkly revelatory autobiography. The Festival also marks the upcoming centenary of the Russian Revolution with historian Orlando Figes and Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt considers the ten cities that made the British Empire

HotAir 2016’s Saturday programme is packed with fun for younger book lovers kicking off with Cressida Cowell, author of the phenomenally successful How to Train Your Dragon series which have now been turned into two hit movies. Cressida will share top tips on becoming an author or illustrator, behind-the-scenes details about how the books became films and promises to help youngsters to learn some Dragonese!

As the stage version of David Walliam’s brilliant book Gangsta Granny hits Stoke’s Regent Theatre the same week as the Festival, kids aged 7 to 11 can get involved in a creative, making workshop based on the show with its designer Jackie Trousdale.

Also on Saturday 11 June, historian Juliet Nicolson takes us through five generations of inspiring women in her family and inspiring gardener, cook and former doctor Sarah Raven shares her new cannon of healthy recipes and Simon Jenkins assesses England’s one thousand greatest houses.

Hot Air 2016 also celebrates local writing talent and the Festival is delighted to welcome Burslem born author Lisa Blower in conversation with Staffordshire University academic Dr Catherine Burgass. We will also be considering Poetic Reflections on Stoke-on-Trent with poets from and inspired by North Staffordshire.

The Festival aims to be a platform for aspiring writers and will showcase young writing talent with Writing West Midlands and hear from London literary agent Juliet Mushens, published local writer Misha Urwin and new author Caroline Lea in a special session about How to Get Published.

Adapting written work for the stage is the topic for discussion with the New Vic Theatre’s Theresa Heskins and writer Geraldine McCaughrean and Around the Footlights with Mick Escott considers the North Staffs theatre’s contribution in the context of the national stage scene.

This year’s festival finale, hosted by Emma Bridgewater, celebrates the phenomenon of the BBC2’s Great British Pottery Throw Down with renowned potter and judge Keith Brymer-Jones, plus finalists from the programme to discuss the spotlight the show has shone on The Potteries.

“The Festival is now firmly established as an annual, cultural highlight for Stoke-on-Trent and the support shown by audiences to make it a success is real triumph,” says Festival Trustee Matthew Rice. “We are absolutely delighted with the superb line up of top name authors coming to Stoke this summer and look forward to welcoming book lovers from far and wide to the Factory in June.”

Tickets for the Hot Air Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival are on sale from 10am on Monday 22 February 2016. For more information and to book visit or contact the New Vic Theatre on tel: 01782 313313 or at the theatre box office.

Pennant on the move again & Ben Smith’s book

Posted in Books, Football, Stoke City, Stoke City FC with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2016 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Jermaine Pennant has signed for Singapore side Tampines Rovers. With Matthew Etherington at Stoke they formed a formidable partnership, however since then Pennant has never really shone.

Currently reading Ben Smith’s ‘Journeyman’, an interesting read about a journeyman footballer who started off in Arsenal’s youth set-up before drifting into lower/non-league football. Honestly written and a fascinating insight to the daily workings of a football club and their footballers, on and off the field. He ended up playing for amongst others Reading, Yeovil Town, Shrewsbury Town and Crawley Town.

Hot Air Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival 2015 12th-13th June

Posted in Authors, Books, News, Stoke City, Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival with tags , , , , , on June 7, 2015 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Another strong line-up for the second Stoke literary festival including Michael Palin’s first visit to Stoke!


The first Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival took place in June 2014 and was the first of its kind in the area, giving local people the opportunity to find out more about the art and craft of writing and the joys of reading.

The festival in the factory, also known as Hot Air giving a nod to Stoke-on-Trent’s historic background, is held at the Emma Bridgewater Factory on Lichfield Street in Stoke-on-Trent.

The Festival returns on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th June 2015 featuring a programme of 15 authors, film makers and performers discussing reading, writing, the creative process and their latest releases, giving festival goers the opportunity to debate with and meet some of the country’s leading writers.

Visiting the Hot Air Literary Festival this year are former Labour party chief spokesman and strategist Alastair Campbell, actor, adventurer and Python Michael Palin and former Home Secretary and much admired author Alan Johnson, author and biographer Dame Margaret Drabble, journalist, political biographer Charles Moore, historian and broadcaster William Dalrymple and award winning writer Sathnam Sanghera.

Celebrating Stoke on Trent’s contribution to the creative arts more widely, this year’s festival includes poetry, performance and the event’s first film screening with a special showing of triple BAFTA TV nominated “Marvellous”, the Neil (Nello) Baldwin story, including an audience with Neil Baldwin and director Peter Bowker as Saturday evening’s finale. There will also be a special debate chaired by Matthew Rice to debate the city’s cultural contribution.

Other events include a discussion with local literature specialist Catherine Burgass and filmmaker Ray Johnson about the work of Stoke poet Arthur Berry, Staffordshire author Joss Musgrove Knibb brings to life the First World War experiences of four Staffordshire regiment soldiers and Lucy Cufflin hosts a baking demonstration using the kitchen cafe Aga.

Supporting literacy is a very important element of the Hot Air Festival and ahead of the event a series of special poetry and illustration workshops will be taking place in city schools. With our media partner The Sentinel, the “Too Write” creative writing competition also makes a welcome return with winners being announced at the festival by patron Andy McNabb.

The 2014 event was a great success and we look forward to welcoming back many of you who came last year and new visitors too. Tickets for all events will be available to book from Saturday 11 April.

Interview with author Robert Shore

Posted in Authors, Books, Heavy metal with tags , , , , , , on June 12, 2014 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Robert Shore is the author of the rather good book on the Midlands ‘Bang In The Middle’ published by the Friday Project/Harper Collins. A must read for fellow Midlanders that’s for sure…

1. What sparked the idea to write the book on the glory of the Midlands that is represented in ‘Bang In The Middle’?

In part it was reading a travel feature entitled ‘Places That Suck’ and finding the East Midlands prominently positioned at the head of the list. ‘How dare they? I love the East Midlands!’ I thought to myself, but it made me realize that the clichés relating to the region are generally fairly negative. Not like the North (a theme in the book).

And in part it was a question from my five-year-old son. His teacher had asked him to find out about where his parents were from. His mother is a Parisian and, as a Midlander, I wanted to be able to offer him a cultural inheritance on my side to match all those cool French philosophers and Nouvelle Vague filmmakers. And that’s basically the challenge I set myself: to explore what it means to be a Midlander and to write about what wonders the Midlands has given the wider world. The answer (I wasn’t entirely expecting it, I confess) turned out to be: pretty much everything, from balti, Stilton and crisps to evolution, gravity and parliamentary democracy.

2. Why is it do you think that the Midlands gets overlooked so much apart from say Midlands Today on BBC1?

It’s a national conspiracy, obviously. I’m joking, of course, but I do sort of mean it too. I think there are two main reasons for the general neglect of the Midlands: in the first place, a lack of regional identity among Midlanders (Northerners are much more likely to identify themselves as such, which helps a lot when you’re trying to persuade other people that there’s really such a thing as ‘Northernness’); and second, a lack of the means of production – there are very few publishers and independent radio and TV production companies in the Midlands. The North has a lot more – not to mention the new MediaCity in Salford – and consequently can make itself heard much more readily at a national level.

3. The book is a mixture of facts about famous Midlanders and key towns/cities which you visited as more of a travelogue. How did you decide which places to visit and was Stoke really as bad as your mum seemed to make out?

In terms of the tour itinerary, the idea was to head for the bigger cities, going in a clockwise direction from my home town of Mansfield – so to Nottingham, Leicester, Northampton, Coventry, Brum, Stoke – and taking in some of the prettier (and not-so-pretty) bits in between. That seemed to make sense because the history is concentrated in the more populous areas, and the book is supposed to offer something of a humorous history lesson.

On the subject of Stoke: it has an amazing heritage but I think it’s fair to say that its layout is a bit perplexing for the first-time visitor. I read somewhere that it has a notably low density of college grads but I swear you need a degree in geography just to find your way to the city centre! It’s true that my mother wasn’t very impressed initially but she changes her mind a lot and has since decided that it was actually very nice…

4. How has the book been received so far by critics and readers? Have you been on any book signings or related events?

The book garnered a bit of press, mostly on the basis of the challenge it throws down to the idea of the ‘North/South divide’. To hear the way most national news is reported you’d think there was nothing and nowhere in between the North and the South of England! We are completely dominated by the binary North/South model, as anyone who’s driven past Leicester on the M1 (it’s in ‘The NORTH’ apparently) will attest! Anyway, that line of argument got me onto the Today programme on Radio 4 and into The Sun, where they ran a ‘Quiz To See How Midlands You Are’. I was quite proud of that.

5. I notice on your blog you are reading books by Midlands authors and indeed some are mentioned in the book like Arnold Bennett (another blatant plug for Stoke!). Would a follow up book on the literary richness of the Midlands be a next step maybe?

I’m currently trying out a new reading practice – ‘Reading-as-a-Midlander’ – which basically involves systematically noting down references to the Midlands in any books and other publications I read. It’s very illuminating (and slightly comical): most references – and there aren’t that many, compared to the North and South of the country – are disparaging.

But yes, there ought to be a study of Midland literature because basically everything of any literary value was written in the Midlands. I’m exaggerating for effect when I say that but again I’m not entirely joking: the Beowulf poet, Shakespeare, D.H. Lawrence, Arnold Bennett (even though he did call himself a ‘Man of the North’ – grrr) – we have an incredibly rich literary heritage.

6. In the book there is a decent amount given over to music, most notably heavy metal. How did you first become a fan of rock and metal music?

What was the first album you bought and band you saw live? I have an older brother and he first introduced me to hard rock. Growing up in the Midlands made it a natural enough choice: after all, this was the birthplace of metal! First gig: AC/DC on the Back in Black tour. First album: Live and Dangerous by Thin Lizzy. Phil Lynott was my absolute idol. When he died I stopped listening to rock music for several years. It turns out – despite that Dublin accent he put on – that Phil was actually a Midlander, born in West Bromwich.

7. Despite now liking jazz you still proudly mention Motorhead. What do you think makes them so special as a live band? Have you ever met any of the band?

With the exception of Fats Waller (about whom Phil Lynott wrote a song, so there’s a distinct rock lineage there anyway), I mostly like really noisy jazz: I can’t imagine anyone who loves Metallica or Black Sabbath not enjoying Peter Brötzmann’s classic 1968 album Machine Gun, for instance. It’s one of the most pleasurable ways to give yourself a headache I know.

Alas, I have never met Lemmy or any of the other members of Motörhead. I did once interview Glenn Hughes, though, and I was very impressed that he named one of his recent bands in honour of his native West Midlands – Black Country Communion.

8. The NWOBHM saw a fair few bands emerge from the Midlands and are also mentioned in your book. Which bands did you like and do you still listen to any of them nowadays?

I came to musical consciousness as NWOBHM reached its peak, so those bands – Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon, Girlschool – defined my youth in many ways. My favourites, Diamond Head, were from the Midlands, naturally. Metallica nicked their moves (they were largely a Diamond Head covers band at the outset) and stole their crown. I still listen to a lot of rock music, although the production on most NWOBHM albums can make them hard going now. You had to be there.

9. What made you want to take up writing and any advice for budding writers and those keen to write a book?

I wanted to be a journalist when I was a child (not sure where the idea came from – that’s not at all what my parents did) so that’s the path I followed after school. Interviewing people – because they do a certain kind of work, have had particular kinds of experience, etc – can be a great source of knowledge and inspiration, and mobile phones provide you with most of the technology you need to record and archive the results. I’ve always found it a great way to start or enrich a project. In terms of getting published: don’t give up at the first (or thirtieth) rejection; think laterally.

10. Anything else to add…

Up the Midlands!