year we talked to David about his Red
Riding Quartet novels which were centred around the police
investigations into the Yorkshire Ripper. Although David lives in
Japan we managed to catch up with him while he was over here promoting
his extraordinary new novel.
time we talked to you you said the 1984-85 Miners strike left its
mark on you. Why do you think that was? The Miners Strike was
one of the two events which towered above all else, growing up as
and when I did in West Yorkshire - the other being the hunt for
the Ripper. But while the Ripper terrified me, the strike eventually
bored me. That guilt, that failure at 17 and 18 to understand the
enormity and importance of events on my own doorstep, in my own
county, that guilt was what drove me to write GB84.
you think the strike could be described as a civil war? Unfortunately
not. Had the TUC given the NUM the support that they had promised,
then perhaps civil war might have come a step closer. However, given
the lengths, tricks and expense that the Thatcher government went
to in order to crush just the NUM - it would have been a very short
do you think the strike changed lives and mining communities in
West Yorkshire? It wasn't the strike that changed lives and
communities, it was the government policy and the forces they brought
to bear upon pits and communities in order to close pits that changed
lives. I think it's hard for people in 2004, especially younger
people, to understand the levels of sacrifice that people underwent
in mining communities during 1984/85; the loss of, on average, 9000
pounds per miner, 11,000 arrested, 7000 injured, two men dead -
that men and their families did this in order to defend not only
their own jobs and communities, but also those of other men in other
pits and communities. Those pits and communities are gone, organised
labour is gone, socialism is gone and with it the heritage and culture
that held people and places together. That government and their
policies changed everybody's lives, not only the ones that had the
courage to at least stand and fight.
describe your novel as an 'occult history.' It's a history because
it based on real events and experiences but what do you mean by
occult? I use the word 'occult' to mean hidden - but also as
a play on the more grotesque aspects of the word.
63. No f****** end in sight. Folk have gone through their savings
now. Them that had any. Holidays cancelled. Stuff taken back
to the shops - Nothing from social. Nothing from union - Lot
David Peace's GB84
like the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper and the Miners Strike have
add an impact on many people's lives. How far is it the novelist's
job to reinterpret such events?
Anybody who writes anything - fact or fiction - about real events
has a responsibility to the people who lived through them. In writing
about the strike, my main motive and responsibility was to stop
people forgetting what happened. Especially younger people.
novels have been described as 'brutal' and you have often been compared
to James Ellroy. How far do you think this is the case? Both
Ellroy and myself have written about people and places from our
pasts; the people we grew up with and the places we lived in. It's
hard to write honestly about the Ripper and the Strike and for it
not to be brutal.
also use the testimony of people involved in the strike. Do you
feel the novelist's voice is not enough? As I say, any writing,
fact or fiction, is through the voice of the writer - the material
they chose and the material they don't, which bit goes here, which
bit there etc, but I wanted the testimony of the people who actually
lived through the strike to be as raw and honest as possible. I
met with people and also used the oral accounts from the books listed
at the back of GB84 - and the things I heard and the things I read
needed no fictionalising; they were powerful enough.
important do you think music is in recreating the period? Do you
have your own soundtrack for the novel/strike? For me, music
is a way of recreating the backdrop to a period; lost associations
re-surface, images and words that have fallen out of useage come
back. It also insulates me against the present. With GB84, as with
the other books, I listened to as much of the music from the time
as I could. Some of the albums are listed in the back of the book.
Soundtrack of '84
Goes to Hollywood's Welcome to the Pleasuredome, The Redskins' Neither
Washington Or Moscow and Mighty Wah's A Word to the Wise Guy are
among the sources listed by David Peace at the end of GB84)
Your next book is about Brian Clough's 44 days at Leeds United.
This seems like a radical departure? I actually worry it won't
be any departure at all; 1974, Leeds - sounds very familiar.
have also said you are going to write another book about the Yorkshire
Ripper so presumably you think there is still more to be said on
the subject? Unfortunately, yes. I don't think I will ever forget
that voice on that tape and the effect it had on me and everyone
in West Yorkshire at that time. And, until the police reverse their
present policy of not investigating the hoaxer, the case will always
Are there any other big issues you want to investigate in the
future? The strange plots to destabilise the Wilson government
and the odd alliances that propelled Thatcher to power. Also, finally,
the rise of Tokyo, 1946 -1964.