Meet Ben Gaunt When the publisher first met Ben Gaunt, and they talked about a short biography for the book, he was told this story:
'Born a stone's throw from where, one day, the Brixton riots were doomed to start, Ben Gaunt spent most of the nine months on remand in Brixton prison studying the works of Shakespeare because that was the name of the road in which he had spent his early life, grazed his knees, broken his nose and embraced 'street culture' long before sociologists gave it a name. Schooled on a fish stall in Brixton market Ben saw the small plaice fillet give way to the red snapper, a half ounce of Old Holborn puff in to home-grown ganja and slums become nearly a million pounds worth of prime south London property ideal for Members of Parliament and other poseurs.
As Ben says ...'easy money shouts loudest from a street corner when you're unemployed, bored and really badly want to have it off with the girl in the real Donna Karan tee-shirt. So it's easy to take the money to store a package. Ask no questions. Make no assumptions. The African guy drives a new Merc. but his shoes need heeling and he doesn't wear socks. When the package is passports destined for Lagos, Nigeria, and you're found in possession ignorance is no defence. Except it was enough in the hands of a good Legal Aid barrister to get me off with just time spent on remand. And H.M. Prisons do their best if you keep your nose clean.'
Other than the complete works of Shakespeare Brixton prison taught Ben a lot about DTP, gave him time to read Elmore Leonard and learn to write in a Return to Basic Skills class. What it could not do was teach him to deal with rejection slips from publishers which he used for wall paper in what passed as his lavatory. Deep down Ben knew that they did not care about real life and crime time in south London. And then he heard of LondonCrimeWorks and LondonCrimeworks heard of him, and it worked.
Read it … South of the River : Running on Empty ... it's a bit special ...as is Ben Gaunt'